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Wye Island Regatta in Maryland

Trip Overview

Wye Island Regatta 2006

12.4 mile race around Wye Island

Starring: The Bloody Mary, Blue Mountain Outfitters Clipper Mariner

Supporting Cast:

  • C2g as the phlegm-hawking bowman
  • Canoeswithduckheads as the man in wet black fleece
  • Brian Sill as the quiet one
  • Tyler McCrea as the Incredible Starboard Hulk
  • Mike McCrea as Chief Broken Coccyx
  • Paris Hale as Dorian Grays younger sister
  • Theresa Alexander as Granny
  • Topher Reynolds as Captain Weirdbeard
  • Sailor Jerry as official motivational beverage

2006 marks the Bloody Marys third triumph at Wye Island. In 2004 nobody had more fun: and in 2005 the Bloody Mary began her proud history of racing victories:

2006 also marks the crew surpassing the 7-hour mark in training time, provided the cumulative training log include the 2+ hours in the 2004 race, the 2:24:28 last year and the record 2:17:46 in this years race.

Training? Duckheads dont need no steenkin training.

This years Wye Island Race also saw the Bloody Mary receiving well deserved recognition; in just two years the Bloody Mary has become the Wye Island equivalent of Norm in Cheers everybody knows her name and everyone greets her with some salutation, comment or question.

Beginning with warm greetings from the race officials at registration and continuing throughout the race and post-paddling potlatch the Bloody Mary drew a crowd of friends old and new.

And drew her first big-canoe competition, as Chip Walsh and the crew of the Wontonnah, a 20 foot Maine Freighter, put up a good fight until we showed her our wake in the final leg.

This years Duckhead Racing Association was also joined by Martin Elliot and Bob Shakeshaft competing in single rec kayak. Wait a minute, "Shakeshaft"?, I sense another nom de paddler.

After the usual start time delays, allowing for additional motivational libations and pirate costumerie, the Bloody Mary was hand launched, a struggle reminiscent of the Bogart and Hepburns African Queen in the Ulanga marshes. Granny Alexander remarked, "I never dreamed the mere physical act of launching a canoe could be so stimulating." This was probably due as much to Tophers uplifted kilt as anything else.

Paddling out to the start line the crews intentions became clear, as we pushed the Bloody Mary over the 6 MPH mark, eliciting concern about burning out before even getting started.

Crossing the start we settled into a steady 5.2 mph pace. So steady in fact that we seemingly maintained 5.2 MPH throughout the race. Captain Tophers mileage and speed calls - 3.5 miles, average speed 5.2...6.8 miles, average speed miles, average speed 5.1, no wait, back up to 5.2 led us to believe that his GPS was malfunctioning.

Approaching the Wye Island Bridge and styling sharp cadence for our race photo we began to slowly reel in the Wontonnahs quarter mile head start. The operative word being slowly.

Actually we reeled the Wontonnah in fairly easily, but passing her proved another matter, we closed to within 50 yards and held that position plus or minus 20 yards for most of the race.

I believe that the sight of the Bloody Mary nipping at her heels helped spur the Wontonnahs crew to press on, as they passed numerous sandy beaches that appeared perfect for a mid-race picnic stop.

While chasing the Wontonnah (an Algonquian word meaning "Crowded boat") we caught and passed more than a few serious racers, including an outrigger or two and even Bill Hahn and Charlie Thorntons Wenonah. With something like 120 years of combined paddling experience, I was surprised that Bill and Charlie havent gotten the knack of it by now.

Entering the final quarter of the race we finally reeled in the Wontonnah, and without that disturbing visage holding us back began to extend our lead. Despite challenging conditions, including a phlegmy bowman, occasional course deviations due to Sailor Jerrys inopportune interference, occasional deluges of rain, a headwind throughout the days circumnavigation (not fair!) and all too frequent boat wakes we were on a pace to break the 2:20 mark when the glorious sight of the orange finish line buoy at last hove into sight.

Bearing down over the last quarter mile, spurred on by Captain Tophers elapsed time calls, we crossed in a Bloody Mary record of 2:17.46, besting last years time by nearly 7 minutes. It did not escape notice that we now have an even faster time to beat next year, but for now we will bask in the glory of our record finish and our complete and utter humiliation of the Wontonnah.

Captain Weirdbeard allowed us the usual victory grog, and we reveled in being the only race boat to cross the finish line ballasted with a celebratory case of beer and bottle (ok, two) of rum aboard, although, again, the Wontonnah gave us a run for our money in finish line libations.

Back ashore the Bloody Mary drew the usual admirers, as did Tophers MSR Pavilion. I want a big racing canoe of my own, but dammit, now I want a Pavilion as well. That is the best thought out tarp, and probably the easiest to erect; its about time someone put some real thought into wing design. Compliments to the folks at MSR, I think they nailed it with this one

The post-race confab went on well into the afternoon as usual and the Duckhead Racing Association was visited by friends old and new.

Bill Hahn stopped by, having finished in a respectable 2:46:10. It only took Bill 14 years to figure out that his previous partner was a lilydipper at heart, something we recognized in the first 14 minutes.

Bills visit was followed by a German racer, who regaled us with tales of helping rescue some hapless solo canoeist during the hurricane race of 04, mentioning that all of this overmatched paddlers implausible excuses started with the phrase No, you dont understand. I miss the tradition of beating Paddler01 at Wye every year.

Donning our commemorative 1st place tee shirts and distributing hard-won race medals and other swag we were again among the last to depart, heading for the traditional carbo-load at Hollys and plotting next years strategy.

Semi-official Duckhead race results:
Bloody Mary 2:17:46 (1st 8-man canoe)
Wontonnah 2:22:38 (1st 5 man canoe)
Martin Elliot 3:37:55 (2nd mens rec kayak Masters 60)
Bob Shakeshaft 3:37:35 (2nd mens rec kayaks Masters 50)

Despite Martins comment after the race: "Well, thats an experience I can cross off my list and never do again" Ill bet that once the Ibuprofen kicks in and the aches and pains go away hell start thinking about breaking the 3:30 mark next year.

Thanks to:

  • The group of kayakers who trusted me to take their group photograph you did want everyone just from the knees down, right?
  • The Annapolis Rowing club and everyone who helped make the 2006 regatta one of the best ever.
  • Linda Hall for what Im sure will be another extraordinary photo of the Bloody Mary and her motley crew.
  • Phlegmy bowman c2g, for a steady cadence in sickness and in health. I join CWDH, Brian, Tyler and Squatters young and old in saying Nuh uh, I aint paddlin bow.
  • Captain Weirdbeard for transportation, trailerage, commemorative CDs and much more. Much. More.
  • And, most especially, thanks to Blue Mountain Outfitters for their trust and generosity, and for another gloriously memorable adventure in the Bloody Mary.

Toms photos of the day:

The crew of the Bloody Mary:


Landing ramp, port-a-johns.


Entry fee for the Regatta race, otherwise no.


To Wye Landing from the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay:

Take 50 East over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Follow Rte. 50 E to Rte. 213 S (14 miles east of the Bay Bridge and 5 miles east of Rte. 50/301 split.)

Turn right on Rte 213 S and proceed 1 mile to Wye Mills.

Stay straight past old church. Rte becomes 662 S.

At Wye Landing Lane (c. 2 miles from Wye Mills; look for Regatta sign.) turn right and stay on Wye Landing Lane 2.0 miles to dead-end at Wye Landing.


Wye Island Regatta info and details:

Laminated course map distributed by race officials. Or just paddle around the island and remember to keep it always on your left if going counterclockwise...

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip