2.4m mini keelboats have domintated the top positions at this year's Bloody Mary pursuit race
The 29th Bloody Mary has seen some of the most difficult sailing conditions that competitors have encountered in the history of the race.
As the launching process got underway, the 293 entrants were faced with a navigation task rarely seen at dinghy events. A fog that reduced visibility to less than 10 metres enshrouded the race course on Queen Mary Reservoir.
Competitors have been forced to feel their way to the start line with only a limited number of collisions considering the number of boats and the level of visibility. The wind, which as best could be described as patchy, at worst non-existent, peaked at Force 2 meaning skill and tactics have played more of a role than sail area and boat size.
The annual race encompasses a wide variety of fleets ranging from the Olympic disabled class of the 2.4 through to the cruising designs of the GP14 and Wayfarer, to the out and out speed machine of the 49er.
The Bloody Mary Pursuit Race works on a system of a finish line being set near the lead boat after a period of elapsed time. The staggered start, according to handicap and class means that in conditions with light winds such as this, it is less likely that the asymmetric class boat will take line honours. A 2.4 metre boat, on paper the slowest in the race and first off the line has led the majority of the race with a Thames A-Rater using vastly superior sail area to its advantage in the light conditions to catch the leading 2.4 fleet. The A-Rater with a tall rig and shallow hull design that is suited to the relatively calm inland waters of the Thames means that the conditions today are well-suited to the class which made up on the 45-minute head-start given to the 2.4s.
The 293 entries have come from all over the UK including a boat from Largs in Scotland and international entrants from Dublin and Spain with the event very much seen at the national start to the new UK dinghy sailing calendar.
Overall Results (provisional)
1st 2.4m, George Barker (Oxford SC)
2nd 2.4m, Martin Pascoe (Weirwood SC)
3rd Thames A-Rater, Ossie Stewart, Steve Neil and Hywell Bowen-Perkins (Thames SC)
More results to follow later