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Bembridge Illusion Inter Club Team Racing 2018

by Mike Samuelson 10 Dec 2018 10:15 GMT 8-9 December 2018

Strong winds were forecast for the annual Illusion Team Racing Championships held at Bembridge over last weekend (8th & 9th December) and first thing on Saturday it looked very much as if they would have to be postponed, however there was a glimmer of hope in the Met Office forecast so it was decided to try to race so long as it was practical (and of course safe).

With conditions in the harbour looking distinctly unsailable, the race Committee headed out of the harbour to set up a course in the lee of St Helens Duver. Although one team, CCYC (Graham & Julia Bailey), decided to remain ashore, the other seven teams made it safely to the start area so that round robin series of matches could be started in the gusty but relatively smooth sea conditions off the Baywatch Café.

In the first flight, there were two slightly surprising results; the HSK Finland team of Rudy Jurg & Bill Daniels beating the EWCC team of Bruce Huber & Simon Cooper, and the ASA team of David Peerless & Tom Barker beating the SVYC team of Raymond Simonds & Alastair Speare-Cole after a successful protest just before the finish line.

In the second flight, the EWCC team just held off a late challenge from the BSC team of Hugh Doherty & Mike Toogood. HSK Finland 'got lucky' and just beat the RTYC team of Richard Ambler & Andy Christie, and ASA were successful if another protest just before finish against the RVYC team of Mark & Jo Downer.

In the third flight, BSC just beat RTYC; HSK Finland beat ASA after David Peerless injured his wrist and Tom Barker's pump broke and he had to nurse his loaner boat to the finish line. In the RVYC v SVYC match, the Downer's ended up comfortably ahead at the finish.

Although determined to carry on racing despite David being in considerable pain and Tom having to bucket excess water out, the ASA team lost their final three matches against BSC, EWCC & RTYC, however full marks to them both for their stoic perseverance under very tricky conditions. Meanwhile in the fourth flight, HSK Finland beat SVYC after a very close race and the latter having to take a penalty within yards of the finish line.

The fifth flight saw RVYC inflict the only defeat of the day on HSK Finland in some close racing; BSC also nearly upset things when they narrowly missed beating SVYC. With the strength of the gusts increasing (c25 knots), consideration was given by the race officers to abandon the last two flights, however as everyone appeared to enjoying themselves and there was plenty of safety cover, racing continued. In the sixth flight, the only close match was between EWCC & SVYC with the latter just managing to avoid being the last boat to finish.

The crunch match in the seventh and final flight was between EWCC & RVYC; as to be expected,no quarter was given by either team, however after some extremely close racing, the EWCC team took the first two places.

Although certainly not ideal conditions for team racing, everyone agreed that it had been the right decision to go ahead. Indeed although at times, it was 'survival conditions', there was still some excellent team racing going on. HSK Finland finished with 6 wins, RVYC & EWCC with 5 wins each, SVYC with 4 wins, BSC & ASA with 3 wins each and RTYC with 2 wins.

Saturday videos:

ASA v RVYC (finish)

EWCC v SVYC (finish)

SVYC v RTYC (start)

Sunday morning's forecast was a bit more promising and as conditions in the harbour were considerably calmer than the previous day, a slightly longer course was set up for the semi-finals & finals. The former were a best of three format with the main final being best of 5 races and the plate final best of three. In the first semi-final, the SVYC team took advantage of a slightly slower Rudy in his loaner boat and won both races reasonably easily; however in the second semi-final between EWCC & RVYC, the umpires had their work cut out. RVYC took the first match after they won a protest close to the finish line. Although RVYC won the next race, EWCC were awarded a 'Redress' and so the race was re-run. After very close boat on boat racing, RVYC won it by a whisker after all four boats finished within inches of each other. This meant that the final (best of 5 races) was between RVYC & SVYC and the Plate final between EWCC & HSK Finland.

In the first race of the final, Raymond was first round the leeward mark however unfortunately there was a collision when Mark approaching at right angles on starboard to round the mark having gone down the St Helens side of the course, hit his starboard quarter. Mark took a penalty and the race continued. At the finish, there was another 'interesting' scenario which tested the umpires who concluded that Jo had not sailed the correct course, which meant that SVYC won. Despite best efforts, sadly, it was not possible to effect a temporary repair to Raymond's boat so the final was abandoned and hopefully it will be re-run over the Match Racing weekend in early February. In the meantime, the EWCC team won the first two of the Plate final races to come third.

Although obviously disappointing not to have been able to complete the final, all in all an excellent two days racing in very challenging conditions. Enormous thanks to the Race Committee, the Umpires and of course the Competitors.

Sunday videos:

RVYC v EWCC (semi final Race 2)

RVYC v EWCC (semi-final Race 3)

RVYC v SVYC (final Race 1)

Additional photos on Flickr here.

No racing next weekend; the Christmas Cracker is on Saturday & Sunday 22nd/23rd December.

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