Now in its second year, the Fast Mermaid Pursuit Race, held on Sunday, July 23, featured 54 boats in a race off Marblehead as part of a fundraiser event organized by friends, family and the Boston and Eastern Yacht Clubs for Lindsay Smith, a Marblehead sailor and domestic violence survivor.
Pursuit racing is a variant of racing where boats start in reverse order, with their start times pre-determined by their ratings and the course length. The diverse fleet of boats enabled many in the sailing community to come together to compete and show support for the Smith family, who are a multigenerational sailing family from Marblehead — including 10-time world champion and two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Jud Smith, Lindsay’s dad.
All net proceeds from the race registration to the food and dockside events went to the Fast Mermaid Fund, set up for Smith to help with medical costs her insurance doesn’t cover.
Smith nearly died when she was shot in the head in November of 2021 by her ex-boyfriend. She has been receiving physical therapy in Boston through Project Walk, and by all accounts her progress has been very good despite some earlier, debilitating setbacks.
“This event is near and dear to my heart because it is not only a tribute to Lindsay and all that she has been through. It is also a very nice and well-run regatta that the whole sailing community worked hard at making it a success,” said Annie Hogarty Kaull. “Lindsay is a very special person, a tough cookie. Today we are so lucky to have her here on earth and we are also able to appreciate each other even more.”
Months before the shooting, Lindsay was campaigning an all-women’s Etchells team called Fast Mermaid and Jud Smith had fashioned a pink spinnaker for the team. Now, the Fast Mermaid logo has become an emblem of support for Lindsay. Her former Etchells teammates have also remained inspired to compete at all major sailing events including the upcoming Etchells New England championship on Oct. 6-8 in Marblehead.
“We really feel this was the best turnout we have had in a long time on the racecourse with 54 boats racing on a Sunday afternoon off Marblehead,” said Robert “Bump” Wilcox of New Wave Yachts in Marblehead and co-owner with Jud Smith of the Tripp 41 AFRICA.
“What we like about pursuit racing is that for those that race a lot of weekends against the same people it is often hard to win. In a pursuit race, you have the hope of beating these fast-racing yachts as the smaller, slower boats start first. Also, it is a chance for smaller boats to be out on the line with some of these incredibly fast boats. Keeping the lanes clear and finding your way up the course is a great challenge. After doing it last year, everyone wanted to get out there again this year. We did do a lot of promotion and it is for a good cause.”
First place this year went to the Summit 40 “Escape Velocity II” owned by Ben Chigger of Manchester, with the Farr 30 Indra owned by Tom Linkas placing second overall. Third place went to a J/70 “Locomotion” owned by Daan Goedkoop. The pursuit race also had one design boat that started, in some cases as a fleet and in other cases quite close together including the Etchells, Rhodes 19, J/70 and Ensign.
“We were all here to show our community’s support for Lindsay at the first event last year,” said skipper of the Fast Mermaid Etchells team Casey Williams. “It is an amazing accomplishment, and we are so proud and humbled by how well she has done.”
For results and more information about the event go to theclubspot.com/regatta/V68MwaQsrG/results