Andy Rice and Nick Murphy won the Bloody Mary which took place at Queen Mary SC today

Despite the unfavourable weather forecasts of a fresh northerly breeze and freezing conditions, a total of 255 entries turned up to compete in the 30th Bloody Mary pursuit race at Queen Mary Sailing Club this morning.

Sponsored by Thames Water for the fourth year running, this event is one of the premier one-off dinghy/small keelboat regattas on the winter, dinghy racing calendar and never fails to attract a high calibre fleet. This year was no exception with 100 different classes ranging from Topper through to the 18ft Skiff taking part.

This 150-minute pursuit race is set over a course which takes in the entire race area at Queen Mary Sailing Club and, as usual, a massive crowd of spectators lined the shore around the clubhouse to watch the fleet battle with the elements.

Having worked hard to overtake at least 20 fleets including the likes of the Laser 4.7s Comet Duos Bosuns, Signets and Laser Picos, the Miracle superbly sailed by the Royal Naval SA duo, Sam Mettam and Geoff Phillips, continued to extend her lead well in to the second half of the race. The only real disruption for the Miracle boys at this stage was the 18ft Skiff team from Datchet Water SC who seemed to have problems bearing off in the gusty conditions, one lap behind. Fortunately for the Miracle, the Skiff was never going to be a threat at this stage in the race. However, in a freshening northerly breeze, the more immediate concern for Mettam and Phillips was the pursuing Cherub sailed by Gavin Sims and Simon Goodwin. Not surprisingly the Cherub stormed through to the front of the fleet and looked in a reasonably comfortable position from then on.

Even with five minutes to go, the Cherub still seemed to have race sewn up but the wind increased which allowed the ever-threatening 49er sailed by Andy Rice and Nick Murphy the perfect opportunity to throttle up and challenge for poll position. Sadly for the Cherub boys, the 49er increased her speed through some superb sailing from the experienced skiff duo, managing to overtake just seconds before the finish guns were fired. One of the ‘luckiest’ competitors of day was RS800 sailors Barrie Edgington and Chips Howarth who, lying in third place at the finish, managed to capsize just as the crossed the line, forcing Dave Evans and Rick Peacock in to fourth place overall.

Speaking to Andy Rice, the winning helmsman, as he came ashore in the freezing conditions he commented: “It was worth getting out of bed for! This morning before I left home, the car was covered in snow and I really did not want to make the effort. But when I arrived here at the club, there was a great breeze and the sun was shining. It was a really exciting race and my crew Nick Murphy, who’s more used to crewing 29ers, was great.

Overall Results

1st 49er, Andy Rice and Nick Murphy

2nd Cherub, Gavin Sims and Simon Goodwin

3rd RS800, Barrie Edgington and Chips Howarth

4th 29er, David Evans and Rick Peacock

5th International 14, Jeremy Sibthorp

6th RS800, Neil Ashby and Jeremy Davis