It’s incredibly hard to win the GJW Direct Bloody Mary, let alone get alone get close twice in a row. After finishing runner-up last year, Sam Pascoe defied the light winds at this year’s 185-boat pursuit race to win yet another event of this season’s Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series...
Sam Pascoe went one better than last year to take the winner’s gun in his Musto Skiff ahead of 185 boats at the GJW Direct Bloody Mary. After finishing runner-up in 2023, matching the feat of his dad in a 2.4m keelboat more than 15 years earlier, Pascoe continued his winning streak in one of the most dominant performances ever seen in the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series.
The light winds weren’t looking particularly good for the trapeze boats including the singlehanded Musto Skiff, but as Pascoe said after getting ashore: “We seem to do OK provided we can trapeze upwind and there was just enough for us to do that.”
See more of YachtsandYachting.com’s Mark Jardine’s interview with the winner here...
The Bloody Mary is one of the pinnacles of dinghy racing across the whole year, and 185 boats from 52 classes representing 84 sailing clubs is proof that this race continues to matter. Youth numbers in the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series are up this year, and of the 280 sailors at Queen Mary, a quarter of them were of youth age.
There were numerous national and world champions and even some Olympic medallists including Ian Walker, winner of the Bloody Mary in a Mirror back in the late 80s but this time racing an RS400 crewed by Anna Warren.
The biggest entry came from the RS200 fleet with 19 boats, followed by the ILCA 6 with 13 entries and Toppers with 12.
With the slowest boats set to start at midday, a dry and cold north-westerly Force 2 to 3 wind greeted the sailors, with the sun poking holes in the clouds during the race. Bearing in mind all the recent stormy weather in the UK, competitors had no complaints about the conditions.
Topper sailor Tabitha Blackman Northwood (Hunts SC), led for the first 85 minutes, before being overhauled by Megan Pascoe’s 2.4mR (Frensham Pond SC, and sister of Sam) in front of the club, who held onto the lead for the next 20 minutes. Next up, the Firefly of Alex Davey and Amy Bowden (Royal Harwich YC), the 2017 Winners, who held on for the next 25 minutes, before 2014 winner Graham Camm sailing with Anya Camm (National 12, Burghfield SC), slipped into the lead and managed to pull away from the Firefly.
With 18 minutes to go to the 2.30pm finish time, a hard charging Sam Pascoe took the lead near the clubhouse and held onto the finish in the eastern end of the reservoir. Behind Sam, the multiple dinghy champions and former Series winners Tom Gillard and Rachael Gray (Staunton Harold SC) had managed to get into a commanding second place.
Third podium spot went to Jack Holden and Rob Henderson in an RS400. The RS400s were the only class with a general recall, meaning they finally started two minutes after their scheduled time. But for the recall, Holden and Henderson could well have finished second, and other RS400s might have finished further up the order too.
Pascoe was delighted and relieved to have won this big event after many years: "It's a great feeling, I've chased it for quite a long time, brilliant to win it. I got a second last year, matching my Dad's result in a 2.4 from 17 years ago, so a good one to tick off the list!"
Martin Pue, race director, said: "The 48th GJW Direct Bloody Mary was an extremely competitive race leading to prizes being awarded to the top ten boats across six different classes. A huge success overall with a great turnout, it was impressive to see nearly over 20 youth helms, and 38 Grand Masters.
"The race was well organised and a huge thanks must go to the volunteers, the race management team, safety teams and staff who worked tirelessly throughout the day. We would like to thank our title sponsors GJW Direct and also the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series."
Despite light winds, the SailRacer GPS trackers managed to record some good sustained speeds, particularly across some of the long reaches...
Peter Bromley and Cameron Tweedle, Int 14 10.16 kts
James Curtis and Harry Phelps, RS800 9.49 kts
Jack Holden and Robert Henderson, RS400 9.26 kts
Jack Holden and Robert Henderson, RS400 9.26 kts
Matt Reid and Libby Watkins, RS400 1304 8.79 kts
Lila Edwards and Erin Pank, 29er 2924 8.98 kts
Overall Standings in the Series after five events
The first discard has now kicked in, so quite a few changes in the overall rankings. In total, 387 boats have now gained ranking points, already 10% more than across all events last winter, and still three events to go. With four wins from the first five events, Sam Pascoe (Musto Skiff - Castle Cove SC), jumps back to the top spot after the discard. The Musto Skiff class now has three boats in the top ten, with Sam Barker and Dan Vincent both making big gains.
NEXT EVENT: THE KING GEORGE GALLOP
Next up is the King George Gallop on 20 January. To sign up for this and the other events in the Series...
The following events are in the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series 2023/24:
Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
18 & 19 November 2023
Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
9 & 10 December 2023
Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club
27 December 2023
Gill Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
30 December 2023
GJW Direct Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club
6 January 2024
King George Gallop, King George Sailing Club
20 January 2024
John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
3 & 4 February 2024
Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club
17 February 2024
Prizegiving at RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show, Farnborough
24 February 2024
Previous winners of the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series
2022/23 Peter Gray & Geoff Edwards (Osprey)
2021/22 Roger Gilbert & Ben McGrane (505)
2020/21 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge/ Natalie Johnson (2000)
2019/20 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge (2000)
2018/19 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge (2000)
2017/18 Alistair Goodwin (Laser)
2016/17 Matt Mee & Emma Norris (RS200)
2015/16 Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliffe (GP14)
2014/15 Nick Craig & various crews (Merlin Rocket)
2012/13 Tom Gillard & Simon Potts (Fireball)
2011/12 Peter Gray & Rachael Rhodes (Scorpion)
2010/11 Andy Peake (Musto Skiff)
2009/10 Olly Turner & Richard Whitworth (Merlin Rocket)
SailJuice.com is the ‘how to sail and race faster’ website, with hundreds of articles and exclusive interviews with National, World and Olympic Champions. Professional sailing journalist and editor of SailJuice.com, Andy Rice, came up with the concept of the SailJuice Winter Series (originally known as the SailJuice Global Warm-Up) as a way of increasing participation levels in dinghy racing during the off-season in the UK.
SailRacer manages event websites and processes online entry for major National, International, Youth and training events, providing online scoring, analysis and advanced sports presentation including GPS tracking and live video.
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