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Bembridge Illusion Bill's Barrel 2019

by Mike Samuelson 20 Jan 22:45 GMT 19-20 January 2019

It was great to see 18 Illusions out on Saturday for the first day of this season's Bill's Barrel which was again generously sponsored by Bill Daniels with support from Goddards Brewery. As usual Bill had written up some special rules for the Regatta; these included all races counting and Rule 9 - 'There is no rule 9!'

With the wind direction forecasted as 'cyclonic' and the swell from yesterday's F5 SE'erly making conditions outside the harbour a bit bumpy, the course was set up in the harbour. As tends to be the case when the F2-3 breeze is predominantly from the South, this invariably means that the course is quite constrained and it was no different on Saturday!

Given the fickle breeze, the start of the first race was a cracker for most. Bruce Huber was first to reach the windward marks, tucked in the lee of the houseboats. Next round was Raymond Simonds with Mike Toogood, Julia Bailey & David Russell-Jones close behind. On the second round Raymond benefited from a huge windshift and took over the lead from Bruce who was able to keep well ahead of Julia, David & Mike.

There was another good start for the second race albeit with David R-J, who took quite a long time to extract himself and return, over cooking it and finding himself OCS.

Bill meanwhile found his own breeze and probably even surprised himself by rounding the windward marks with a substantial lead on Raymond, Bruce & Mark Downer. Despite their best efforts they were unable to reel him in and with the Race Officers deciding that a win by the sponsor would be entirely appropriate, the race finished after only two rounds with Bill still ahead.

Despite Flag U being displayed for the second start of the third race, it took two General Recalls and the Black Flag to get it started.

Mark found himself at last in the lead at the windward marks, however Julia overtook him on the first run only to then find him re-taking pole position at the start of the second beat. Third and fourth were very close with Bruce & Raymond finishing less than a boat length apart. Seventh & eighth was as close with Hugh Doherty just doing enough to come in inches ahead of Bill.

With just enough tide left for a two round fourth & final race of the day, the fleet got away to a clean (Black Flag) start. Simon Cooper followed by Julia, Mark & Raymond lead the fleet back down the course but with Jo Downer & Bruce catching them up by the time they reached the leeward gate, mark rounding was 'interesting'! Mark came out best and had established a substantial lead by the time they reached the finishing line. Bruce was second and Julia was third. Sixth to ninth were close with probably only a couple of boat lengths separating David R-J, Bill, David Peerless (whose injured arm still restricts his sail control) & Simon.

Fickle and at times frustrating conditions; fingers crossed for Day 2!

Although a bit colder, with the F3 breeze backing over night to the NNEast and stabilizing, the course for Sunday morning's racing was able to be considerably longer and more enjoyable (particularly towards the end when the sun came out) for the 16 helms racing. As time was critical (the plan being to run the team racing finals that had been aborted in early December immediately after the final Bill's Barrel race), the first race was started under the Black flag. Mind you not that you would have been any the wiser if you had been a spectator!

The fleet quickly split tacks with those who followed Mark towards the St Helens side of the harbour doing best. Mark was first round the windward marks with Bill & Julia not far behind. Bruce lead the next group but despite the race running for three rounds, there was no change at the top end in the finishing order. Lower down the fleet, David Peerless & Mike Toogood tied for 10th place.

The start of the second race was again under the Black flag and was again was pretty spot on - amazing skill given that getting it wrong and being the wrong side of the line in the final minute means instant disqualification.

Sadly for new comer Owen Pay his mast fell down just before the sequence started when his genoa parted company with its furler and after the start he had to be towed back to the Club. In the meantime, it was Julia's pink spinnaker that was the first to fly and despite pressure from Simon, her husband Graham who was racing for the first time this season and Mark, she kept her nerve and finished after three rounds well ahead. Sixth (Philip Russell), seventh (Bill) and eighth (Bruce) finished inches apart.

The Black flag worked again perfectly for the final race that was finished at the windward mark after two and a half rounds. Although he was unable to hold onto second, it was good to see Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore close behind the leader, Mark, for most of the first round. Mind you with Bruce, Graham and Simon not far behind, it was always going to be hard work! A nice way to finish two morning's of close racing

After seven races and with no discard, the winner of this year's Bill's Barrel was Bruce with 24 points; Mark was the runner up with 26 points and Julia was third with 28 points.

Again huge thanks to Bill for sponsoring the Regatta (and for his tie breaking Brexit quiz!) and to Goddards Brewery for their support. As Bill reminded us, Bembridge SC is the nearest Sailing club to the brewery; this minimises the distance and the time taken to deliver the Ale to the club which is good for the environment! (NB: although Brading Haven YC is situated is nearer to the brewery, it is a Yacht club so that is different!).

No racing next weekend; it's the Valentine Trophy the following one (2nd & 3rd February) and the Match Racing Championships the one after (9th & 10th February).

In addition to the gallery at the top of this page, more photos can be seen at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1Bruce Huber101233248224
2Mark Downer1641441114126
3Julia Bailey1573623311028
4Raymond Simonds165124585833
5Simon Cooper856106952442
6Bill Daniels681118727945
7David Peerless140125581012557
8Jonathan Nainby‑Luxmoore1581012111379668
9Jo Downer166871046RTDDNS77
10Mike Toogood14259151510121278
11Philip Russell153131112141361180
12Robin Ebsworth12714141015141387
13Hugh Doherty124171671112131490
14David Russell‑Jones155417136DNSDNSDNS103
15Olly Laughton‑Scott80915912DNSDNSDNS108
16Alastair Speare‑Cole135DNSDNSDNSDNS9107110
17Graham Bailey132DNSDNSDNSDNSDNS33111
18Mike Issiais1521581816DNSDNSDNS120
19Owen Pay11818161714DNSDNS125
20Monty Irwin14716131718DNSDNSDNS127

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