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Illusion Valentines Trophy at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Rudy Jurg 15 Feb 2010 11:36 GMT 13-14 February 2010
Illusion Valentines Trophy (l to r) Bruce Huber, the Ilusion Class Commodore, Rudi Jorg (3rd), Heather Kruk, the Artist of the new Trophy and Graham Sunderland (the winner). Graham Bailey (2nd) not shown © Vernon Stratton

A historic weekend in the sailing world was made in Valencia by BMW-Oracle winning the America’s Cup for the Golden Gate Yacht Club - an awesome show of technology and sailing talent. The battle between sailing talents in Bembridge Harbour was however no less; in all 18 of some the best Solent sailors braved freezing air and water temperatures for the Illusion Valentines Trophy. The wind was from a northerly direction blowing between 10-14 knots and whilst rigging up many sailors already complained of frozen hands and cold bodies.

After a short delay racing got underway, the pin was favoured and Graham Sunderland and Piers Thomas nailed it and finished in that order. The course was relatively short which produced interesting situations around the top mark which such an evenly matched fleet. Class Commodore Bruce Huber, who is normally in front of the fleet, had missed a few weekends racing and was among this middle group struggling to break-away - there is no substitute for practice on the water...

Veteran Illusion sailor Philip Bown was consistent finishing 4th in first and second race, but lost it in the third race of the day. In race 3 Sue Thomas showed the boys perfect control of her 3rd place which she held all the way round in hot pursuit by Rudy Jurg and Graham Bailey. Well known marine author and professional sailor Graham Sunderland booked his 3rd first place on Saturday by being spot on in every start. Bruce Huber finally found some form in the last race and finished 2nd. 3 races were over in an hour and 40 minutes, which considering the cold weather was not a bad thing as some people started developing early signs of hypothermia. Luckily the club house was warm and allowed people the thaw out and go through the post race analysis.

On Sunday and after many people had their romantic Valentines dinners and morning breakfasts it was all smiles on the dock side as the sun was out, moderate 4-8 breeze and less cold. Talk on the dock was about the big match in Valencia and if we would get back on time to watch it! Some Illusionists added an Iphone or Blackberry to their inventory allowing people to keep abreast with developments in Valencia between races.

The race officer started on time, a short course which a favoured the pin end and pushed a few people over the line but Piers Thomas got it right at full speed and left over the horizon, this left Rudy Jurg, Graham Bailey and Graham Sunderland battling for the next few places and they opened a large gap between the rest of the fleet. However in the end it was Graham Sunderland who came second and Rudy Jurg 3rd very closely followed by Graham Bailey in 4th . For the second race the wind had shifted to the left so the marks were moved and the course lengthened. With the wind coming out of the North Westerly corner of the harbour it became very shifty and it was a game of snakes and ladders with lots of place changing. Raymond Simmonds went off on his own to the right of the course and build up a huge lead which won him the race. The battle behind him was fiercely fought and close but it was Jockey Wilson who came 2nd and Graham Sunderland 3rd. Further back Colin Simmonds (the brother of Raymond) finished 7th (again) and would also finish like that for the weekend overall, something he already predicted the previous day!

Before the last race it was clear that Graham Sunderland would take home the beautiful painting by Heather Kruk as the overall prize but there was still a battle between Graham Bailey, Rudy Jurg and Piers Thomas. Although Piers Thomas had a great start he lost a few places in the shifty conditions, Rudy Jurg too lost the plot on the first beat and had to fight back from mid fleet. After a close race with lots of place changing Graham Bailey finished 2nd and Rudy Jurg 3rd, this is also how they finished overall.

Everybody made it quickly back to the dock in the hope of seeing something of the Americas Cup, in the end that was much delayed and gave you ample time to put on a Sunday roast prior to this match started.

Overall Results:

1st Graham Sunderland, 6pts
2nd Graham Bailey, 16pts
3rd Rudy Jurg, 19pts
4th Piers Thomas, 25pts
5th Bruce Huber, 35pts

Next event is the Illusion Nationals, 27/28 February in which we will hopefully see 25+ boats.

Photos from the event are on Facebook.

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