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Illusion Spring Plate at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 5 Mar 09:38 GMT 3-4 March 2018

The decision to cancel Illusion racing over the weekend was made on Friday following the news that Bembridge Sailing Club was going to be closed until Monday in the aftermath of the "Beast from the East". However, although the milder weather kicked in too late for Saturday morning's racing to go ahead, the opportunity to get some racing in on Sunday morning for the Spring Plate was enthusiastically welcomed by eleven Illusionists.

And what a difference 48 hours makes! The Illusion Park was clear of ice and snow, the wind had veered to the SSE and reduced to a Force 3 with occasional gust of 15 knots and even the sun nearly came out! With the light breeze outside the harbour offering more stable conditions and only a gentle swell, it was decided to set the course off Silver Beach. After a 15 minute postponement to allow all eleven boats to reach the start line, the first start was pretty spot on with no one pushing their luck and being called OCS. Justin Biddle was first round the windward mark but Mark Downer had the better run down the middle of the course to the leeward gate and took over the lead which he extended during the second round. Young Alex Downer had an excellent race and was able to keep ahead of his mother Jo who was also overtaken by Julia Bailey on the second beat. With Mark well ahead and the possibility of fitting in at least five races if each race was kept to around 15 minutes, the race was finished after 2 rounds.

At the start of the second race, Mark was very close to being called OCS and being in the middle of the line would have had some difficulty returning, however the Gods were with him and he just managed to be on the right side when the hooter sounded. Predictably he was first round the windward mark with Graham Bailey, George Downer & Justin Biddle in hot pursuit. As the race progressed Mark & Graham traded tacks and were neck & neck on the second run with Mark crossing the finish line less than a boat length ahead. Racing mid-fleet was also tight with Alex Downer finishing inches ahead of Justin Biddle.

Another clean start for the third race and this time the lead was initially taken up by Graham and although Mark clawed it back on the second beat, Graham chose the better leeward gate and crossed the line at the end of the second round just ahead. There was little to separate Justin & Julia as they battled for third and fourth places. At the bottom end of the fleet there were only inches separating Hugh Doherty and Mike Issaias.

Alex Downer was OCS at the pin end of the line at the start of the fourth race and although initially at the back of the fleet, he took a punt and made a long port tack to take him over to the right hand side of the course; a move that certainly paid off and put him into third place round the windward mark behind Graham and his father Mark. Although by the end of the second round he had dropped to fourth with Julia taking third, it was nevertheless another display of excellent racing by the youngest member of the fleet. Justin and Mike Toogood finished inches apart as did Hugh and Robin.

Although the swell had begun to build, the breeze remained pretty steady and well within the Illusion's capability. It was a Downer one/two with Mark ahead of George at the end of the first round of race five. There were no surprises during the second round and at one stage it looked as if it was going to be a Downer one, two and three, however both Graham and Justin managed to get ahead of Jo who ended up in fifth place inches behind Justin. Hugh and Alex also finished very close.

The sixth and final race of the day saw Mark put the Spring Plate out of reach almost from the outset and was well ahead at the finish at the windward mark after two and a half rounds. Julia was second and Graham narrowly beat Justin for third place. No quarter was given lower down the fleet with Robin, Mike and Alex finishing with less than a boat length between them.

Having looked at one stage that the Spring Plate was not going to be raced for this year, all credit to the competitors who were able to make it at quite short notice today and to the Race Officers who managed to get all six races completed. Congratulations to Mark who takes the trophy back home again after missing out last year by a couple of points. Also to Graham & Julia Bailey who were second & third.

No racing next weekend as the tides are wrong. The following weekend (17th & 18th March) we have the Illusion 2018 National Championship.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Mark Downer1241121115
2Graham Bailey13262123311
3Julia Bailey15734336215
4Justin Biddle13156454422
5George Downer16373682523
6Alex Downer12325549925
7Jo Downer16648875630
8Mike Toogood14299967839
9Robin Ebsworth1210771011741
10Hugh Doherty12481110981146
11Mike Issaias15211101111101052


Start of Race 1

Start of Race 3

Start of Race 4

Start of Race 6

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