Bloody Mary 2020 – Tom Gillard & Rachael Rhodes do the Scorpions Proud!

The annual mass fleet handicap race hosted by Queen Mary Sailing Club is widely regarded as a tough challenge at the best of times and one of the ‘Top 5 Must Do’ UK sailing events. This year’s race was held on Saturday 10 January in blustery conditions under a slate grey sky, with an average wind speed of 24-25 knots and recorded gusts in excess of 33 knots; brutal to say the least and more so when factoring in the 2½ hour race duration! The south-westerly wind direction and steep-sided slipways at the reservoir made for difficult launching and recovery sequences which were accentuated by the record turnout of 285 dinghies. Our Scorpion fleet was represented by 2019 National Champions Tom Gillard and Rachael Rhodes sailing the 2013 ‘Barely Illegal’ to a very respectful 20th place overall (that equates to Top 7% incidentally). Another notable finisher was 2019 Llandudno Silver Fleet winner Isaac Marsh back in his new Fireball with crew Oli Davenport out on the wire most of the time to finish in 13th place. Pete Gray and Rich Pepperdine were spotted in a GP14 (small spinnaker guys!) instead of their more familiar Scorpion 2039, finishing in a respectable 55th place. Former Scorpion stalwart Oli Wells was also rumoured to be in the mix sailing an RS400 but your esteemed correspondent didn’t manage to spot him on this occasion! Well done to all competitors who braved those grueling conditions and especially to Queen Mary Sailing Club for their seamless race management, shore-side logistics and overall great hospitality.

Photo credits: Main photo ©Tim Olin 2020; all other photos courtesy of Malcolm James

Malcolm James

South Cerney SC Gloucester GL7 5TH. Scorpions 2001 and 2011.