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The Crew's Pocketbook by Tim Davison
The Crew's Pocketbook by Tim Davison

Bembridge Illusion Vernon's Easter Egg Trophy

by Mike Samuelson 17 Apr 2017 07:21 BST 15-16 April 2017

Two excellent days of racing over the Easter Weekend for Vernon's Easter Egg Trophy - the second oldest trophy raced for by the Bembridge Illusions dating back to 1984. Although Saturday started a bit dull, the sun came out for the second and third races, and having decided to stay in the harbour to avoid the busy entrance channel and BHYC's racing, the fifteen Illusionists ended up with some challenging racing as the F 3-4 breeze flicked 20+ degrees at times.

After a short postponement, the start of the first race had three boats called OCS; all came back and it was not long before one of them, Bruce Huber, had made his way back up to the top end of the fleet. Mark Downer was first at the windward mark with David Peerless & Bruce not far behind. On the second round Mark extended his lead & Bruce took over as the chasing boat. The third round was something of a lottery as the breeze backed 20 degrees and the beat turned into a fetch. Although the gap was reduced between the leading two, Mark was still well ahead of Bruce as they crossed the finish line; David was third.

The start of the second race was somewhat delayed while the course was reset and there was an overenthusiastic attempt to start that required a General Recall. Rather than the usual Black Flag at this stage, the recently introduced U Flag was used. Although not everyone probably knew what the new penalty flag meant, it did the trick and there were no disqualifications. Indeed as can be seen in the video clip, it was an excellent start with the "experts" within a few inches of the line. With the beat to the windward mark extended, there was no right or wrong way to go so the fleet split with some keeping to the houseboat side of the course and others the trot mooring side. However, with the breeze gusting F 5 on occasions there was no stopping Mark who built up a considerable lead ahead of Bruce. There was a similar gap to the next group of half a dozen boats who enjoyed some close racing over the next two rounds. By the end, third place went to George Downer (who had missed the first race), who just pipped younger brother Alex; fifth to ninth all finished within a few seconds of each other.

Started again under the U Flag, the final race of the day saw the experts again demonstrating their boat handling skills by crossing the line within seconds of the hooter sounding. Given that he had dominated the previous two races, it was no great surprise to see Mark's pink spinnaker flying first on the downwind run to the leeward gate. For the first round there was little to separate Bruce & Bill, however as the race progressed the former moved into a comfortable second and Bill had to make do with third. Just after the lead boats started the final round, the breeze veered 20+ degrees so it became a bit of a procession.

Having checked their boats for any undiscovered eggs from the children's lunchtime Easter Day Egg hunt, and with the sun shining, fifteen Illusionists launched and headed out of the harbour for another three races. With the breeze forecast to increase later in the afternoon, a shortish course was set off Silver Beach. Despite reverting back to the P Flag, the fleet got away to clean start; most continued in towards the beach on starboard, however a few tacked onto port in the hopes of picking up the lift that often occurs as the breeze is funnelled out of the harbour entrance. Mark and Bruce were first round the windward mark with Andy Blundell and Jo Downer close behind. On the second round Mark extended his lead, while Andy & Bruce match raced to decide who was going to come second. Given the relatively short course, it was decided to let the race run for four rounds, so lots of opportunity for place changing. By the finish Bruce had gained the upper hand and Andy had to make do with third.

Despite gusts of 19 knots, the start of the second race of the day was another impressive example of the skill level of the fleet with all boats crossing the line within 5 seconds of the hooter. Mark was yet again first to round the windward mark and Andy & Bruce continued their match racing! Not far behind, young Alex Dower, Maddy Fenner & Bill Daniels were also in close quarter battle with Maddy just coming out ahead of Bill at the finish. Although mid-fleet, Jo Downer & her brother Philip Russell were so close that they were scored 7th =.

Another excellent start for the final race of the Regatta and the early lead was again Mark's with Bruce & Andy close behind; however his concentration wavered as they were negotiating the leeward gate and he ended up the wrong side of the buoy and had to re-round. Although this cost him the race, it made no difference to the overall placings and allowed Bruce & Andy to take well deserved first and second places with the former crossing the line less than half a boat length ahead. Alex just pipped Philip to take fourth.

Congratulations to Mark who took home yet another trophy; Bruce was the runner up and Andy was third.

No racing next weekend. The final weekend of the Illusion season is the 29th & 30th April with the St George's Day Trophy on the Saturday and the Woodford Long Distance Race on the Sunday.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Mark Downer1241111135
2Bruce Huber1012222219
3Andrew Blundell888117433219
4Bill Daniels68653S5726
5Alex Downer123134756426
6George Downer163S35127532
7David Peerless140366991233
8Jo Downer12388947633
9Mike Toogood1425138810839
10Maddie Fenner2691211641040
11Philip Russell1534141011121148
12Robin Ebsworth12141514711955
13Richard Ambler1561011131314R61
14David Russell‑Jones1557912SSS64
15Andrew Christie1491210SSSS76
16Rosie Gosling122SSS1013R77
17Rob Lee8SSS15151379


Start of Race 2 on Saturday

Re-Start of Race 2 on Saturday

Start of Race 3 on Saturday

Start of Race 5 on Sunday

Start of Race 6 on Sunday

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