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Bembridge Illusion Christmas Cracker

by Mike Samuelson 24 Dec 2018 06:38 GMT 22-23 December 2018

Earlier in the week it was looking as if the annual pre-Christmas Illusion Regatta at Bembridge was going to be 'crackered'; however Saturday turned out to be a lot nicer than expected with sunshine and a reasonably warm F3 westerly breeze & even though there was no sunshine on Sunday, it was still quite warm and the breeze remained a F3 from the West. Although there were fifteen boats racing over the two days, it was a bit disappointing that there were only nine boats on Saturday.

The first race eventually got away half an hour later than originally scheduled following access problems to the changing rooms and locating all the supporting equipment. Although it was a clean start, there was a bit of bumping when some of the back markers found themselves entangled as they headed towards the line.

Start of Race 1

The beat up to the windward marks off Bembridge Outboards was almost perfect and although he was subsequently unable to hang onto the narrow lead it was good to see Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore out in front as the fleet ran down to the leeward gate. It was not long though before the Class Captain, Mark Downer, took over in front and left Jonathan and Simon Cooper to battle it out for the other two podium places. Although there was little to separate them Jonathan just managed to hold on to finish second. Justin Biddle was a close fourth.

The start of the second race was pretty impressive, particularly as the bright sunshine made it hard to 'spot the pin'.

Start of Race 2

It was not long before Mark was out in front again and despite best efforts by the chasing fleet led by Simon, he never looked under serious pressure. It was good to see Andy Christie holding his own in third place ahead of Justin.

Another good start for the third race with most remaining on starboard until they ran out of water by the houseboats. Mark was again too consistent for the rest and gave little away.

Start of Race 3

Although initially close to the leaders of the chasing fleet, Justin and Jonathan, Simon ground to a halt and began heading back along the track he had just been following; transpired that he was looking for an 'HOB' or hat overboard! Sadly it sank before he or James Row in the safety RIB could locate it but by the time he got racing again he was so far in arrears that he retired. Hugh Doherty and Mike Issaias had a very close race for fourth and fifth, with only inches between them as they crossed the line.

In view of the favourable conditions, it was decided to go for a fourth slightly longer race of three rounds. The start was delayed a bit as the breeze had moved to the right slightly so the windward marks needed tweaking; as with the previous races it was not long before Mark was out in front.

Start of Race 4

Simon and Justin played cat & mouse and were never far apart; it could have gone either way but at the finish Simon was just ahead. As is so often the case, there was also some close racing lower down the fleet with Robin Ebsworth just managing to pip Mike Issaias having rounded different buoys at the leeward gate. An excellent couple of hours racing, much enjoyed by everyone, including a new member of the fleet Tim Haslam in his very smart new lime green Illusion 'Milly Mint'.

Fourteen boats raced on Sunday; with a similar breeze to the previous day, the course configuration was much the same. Mike Toogood pushed his luck at the start of the first race and had to return to the pre-start side of the course.

Start of Race 5

Although the majority remained on starboard tack for as long as they could, quite a few headed out to the right of the course in the hopes of benefiting from the incoming spring tide. Predictably the first two spinnakers to appear on the run were Mark and Bruce Huber (who had not been able to race the previous day); not far behind were Serena Gosling who was clearly enjoying her first outing for a few weeks, Justin and Andy Christie. At the leeward gate Mark selected what turned out to be the favoured mark and was then able to protect his lead for the remainder of the two round race. Mid-fleet, Hugh, Simon and Mike T had a close race with little separating them at the finish.

After an excellent start to the second race of the day, cries of 'water to tack' echoed around the harbour as the bulk of the fleet reached the Selwyn pontoons. Bruce was first round the windward marks and despite having Simon & Mark breathing down his neck, he successfully held them off to win reasonably comfortably; Mike T was fourth and Mike I was fifth. Justin found himself off the pace slightly but had a very close finish inches ahead of Robin.

Start of Race 6

The third race of the day saw yet another battle of wits between Mark & Bruce with Justin and Simon ready to pounce if they made a mistake.

Start of Race 7

On the second round, Mark worked his way into an unassailable lead having picked up a favourable wind shift. A bit further back, Mike T & Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore also finished inches apart.

The start of the final race had an interesting twist; Mark at the pin end over cooked it and was called OCS. However it was some time before he realised that the X Flag was flying for him, so by the time he returned, the leaders, Bruce, Justin & Simon, were not far off rounding the windward marks. Similar to the previous day, the Race Officers had already decided on a three round race, so the challenge, certainly for the back markers was to try to avoid Mark overtaking them! At the front, Bruce established a healthy lead ahead of Justin, Simon and Mike T. Behind them, Serena & Andy had a close race with less than a second separating them.

An excellent couple of days racing; congratulations to Mark who ended as the easy winner; Justin was second and Simon was third.

There is a non-serious race on Boxing Day in conjunction with BHYC; starts at 12:30 (at BHYC) and afterwards at BSC for mulled wine & mince pies.

The next Regatta is for the oldest Illusion trophy, the Icebreaker, and is on Thursday 27th & Friday 28th December at 13:30 & 14:00 respectively.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas.

More Christmas Cracker photos at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1Mark Downer1641111131109
2Justin Biddle1314423463222
3Simon Cooper8532R2824324
4Jonathan N‑Luxmoore15828351286941
5Hugh Doherty124554471110843
6Andy Christie14983885911647
7Robin Ebsworth1277666791248
8Mike Issaias1526657105121351
9Bruce Huber101SSSS212154
10Mike Toogood142SSSS945470
11Serena Gosling122SSSS3108574
12Tim Haslam1679979SSSS82
13Rosie Gosling130SSSS11127785
14Monty Irwin147SSSS1313131198
15Owen Pay105SSSS14RSS110

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