I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to sail with Stuart Hydon in his Lark in the 44th Bloody Mary Race held at Queen Mary Sailing Club on Saturday 7th January. Queen Mary Sailing Club has over 700 acres of water and this event is the largest inland dinghy race held in the UK. It is open to all dinghy classes with a PY number equal to or lower than the International Topper (sorry, no Mirrors allowed). It is a two-and-a-half hour Pursuit Race with the slowest boat going at 12.00 noon. Over 288 boats entered the race on-line with 244 competing on the day. I am sure the weather forecast of 5 to 6 mph wind put the rest off.
Once there and on the water it was great being one of the 244 boats participating. There was a gentle breeze at first which was great for the slower boats with the earlier start times. Unfortunately at about 25 minutes in the wind started to drop. Setting off at 31 minutes after the start gun along with the RS Aero 7, we were the only Lark on the water. The RS200 and National 12 following a minute behind. Heading for the upwind mark we managed to keep the RS 200 and National 12 behind. The wind dropped even more and I was struggling to keep the spinnaker flying on the first few reaches.
The reservoir being so large meant that we only managed to do one and quarter laps of the race before the finish gun went off but managed to overtake 84 boats on the way! It was difficult catching the early starters who had more wind initially hence the Solos and Enterprises stayed near the front with a Firefly winning the race. We were pleased with our 36th place.
It was a great experience. The whole event was really well organised and would recommend anyone who has never sailed the Bloody Mary to give it a go next year. Thank you to Stuart for this great opportunity – and frequently reminding me to keep the boat flat as we raced along!