Winner in 2005, Vlad the Impaler is well ahead of second-place boat

The five-man team aboard 38ft Vlad the Impaler, designed by PBO consultant editor, Andrew Simpson, looks set to win this year’s Powerbar Three Peaks Yacht Race.

Having just passed Oban over 50 miles ahead of the team aboard J/120 Nunatak, only serious gear failure could affect the race for first place.

The fleet of 26 starters (monohulls only) set sail from Barmouth on the Welsh coast on Saturday. Teams consist of three sailors and two runners attempting to sail 389 nautical miles, cycle 30 miles and walk or run 59 miles up the UK’s highest mountains.

Bound for Fort William in Scotland, via Caernarfon and Whitehaven, the runners will scale the summits of Snowdon (3560ft) Scafell Pike (3208ft) and Ben Nevis (4408ft).

Yachts may only use engines in harbour areas specified by the race committee, however rowing is allowed, as is kedging and using a tender for towing.

A perfectly timed passage through the Menai Straits this year after a good run up and down Snowdon, gained the team several hours on the rest of the fleet. Vlad the Impaler won the race in 2005 and finished second last year.

Conditions are reportedly quite severe on the mountains this year with strong winds and heavy rain, however variable weather has been reported at sea, with some yachts resorting to using the oars.

So far only three of the 26 starters have retired – a better record than last year, when more than half the fleet were forced to abandon racing because of a vicious gale.

Click here to follow the race in real time: