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Vernon's Easter Egg Cup for Illusions at Bembridge

by Mike Samuelson 21 Apr 22:03 BST 20-21 April 2019

Easter 2019 Illusion racing for Vernon's Easter Egg Cup will be remembered for the blissfully warm spring like weather. Although we could have done with a few more knots of breeze, it was difficult to find fault with the wall to wall sunshine!

With the harbour filling up with moored boats and initially a light North Easterly breeze forecast for Saturday, the decision was made for the sixteen Illusions to head out of the harbour and race off Silver Beach. Probably the right decision although being close to the channel, it became quite bumpy with the wash from all the boats entering and leaving the harbour.

After a twenty minute postponement, probably too much chatting on the Quay and a paucity of wind to get through the harbour entrance, the first race was started under Flag U so as to minimise the risk of further delays with General Recalls! Mark Downer nearly over-cooked it at the pin end and had to duck down below the line and circle round onto port tack to avoid picking up a disqualification.

First to round the windward mark was Philip Russell with his sister Jo Downer and David Russell-Jones not far behind. There was little movement in the order on the slow run down to the leeward gate and with the windward marks brought closer for the second round, it was very much a matter of the lead boats holding their nerve as Mark Downer applied the pressure from mid-fleet. In the end, he had to make do with fourth. Bill Daniels, who had been very late starting did well to work his way up to eleventh.

With Mark & Jo returning to the harbour as they had to meet their eldest son who was coming over to the Island for Easter, the score sheet looked promising for the rest of the fleet! Race 2, again started under Flag U, was very nearly the end of the road for David R-J who was so close to being OCS (and thus disqualified) that the video had to be reviewed and account taken that it was taken on the course side of the line.

Meanwhile unperturbed he rounded the windward mark in the lead and despite best efforts by Bill Daniel & John Raymond, he remained in front for the rest of the two round race. Mike Toogood was fourth.

Except that David kept well clear of the line, the final race of the day saw a similar pattern emerge.

After split tacks on the initial beat to the windward mark, David was again first to head back down the course towards the leeward gate with Bill and Philip in hot pursuit. On the second run, what little breeze there was disappeared, so at the last minute it was decided to finish the race at the leeward gate using the RIB. This resulted in some very close finishes with only inches separating Philip and Mike for third & fourth; and John Raymond and Jamie Scrimgeour for seventh & eighth.

Commitments on Easter Day inevitably saw a reduced number of boats getting ready to race on a beautifully warm sunny morning. With reports of minimal wind outside the harbour, a strong incoming spring tide and glimpses of the occasional puff of wind in the centre of the harbour, the decision was made to set the course up inside.

Although progress was certainly not very fast, the first race got away to a clean start and with most boats just managing to make headway, it did not in fact take David Russell-Jones that long to reach the windward marks.

What was quite surprising was the extent of his lead ahead of Mike Toogood, Julia Bailey (who was certainly going better having, unlike the day before, brought the right sails) and John Raymond. With the back of the fleet struggling to make progress, and the order looking fairly set, it was decided to finish after only one round so as to get one race 'in the bag'. Although David held his lead, Julia caught up a lot on the final beat to the line when the light breeze backed a good 10 degrees in her favour. Mike was third and John was 4th just ahead of Owen Pay.

The breeze increased slightly for the start of the second race; everyone got away cleanly and there was little doubt that staying on starboard and heading towards the St Helens shore paid off.

Bill Daniels was first to the windward marks with Julia not far behind and then a considerable gap to the rest of the fleet. With enough breeze for two rounds it was then a bit disappointing when it veered to the South/South East so the beat and the run became reaches. The leaders, Bill and Julia initially tried to fly spinnakers but soon realised that broad reaching with genoas was considerably faster; indeed on the way down to the leeward gate, Philip Russell having not worried about trying to fly his spinnaker, overtook Julia and moved into second place.

Having re-set the course and the breeze looking to have settled for a bit, the start of the third and final race of the day saw Julia just over cooking it and being called OCS. Although she managed to extract herself quite quickly and swing back to re-start, it still put her at the back of the fleet.

In the meantime, Bill got it all right and was soon well ahead of Mike Toogood and David R-J. Although the breeze dropped off a bit during the second round, it soon picked up again so it was decided to finish off the season with a three round race. Bill took his second first of the day and Mike managed to get comfortably ahead of David. The next three places had only inches separating them with Mike Issaias sneaking through to take fourth ahead of John and Julia.

Congratulations to David whose consistency over two tricky days of racing meant that he won the final trophy of the 2018-2019 season pretty convincingly. Indeed even if the 'VAR' decision at the start of Saturday's second race was wrong, he would still have won! Bill was second and Philip, on a count back with Mike T was third.

It has certainly been a great season with record fleets. Indeed there can't be many classes that have enjoyed such close racing and camaraderie over the last six months. Undeterred by the strong winds, particularly over the Team Racing, Match Racing and the Nationals weekends, and the light airs this weekend, we look forward to welcoming old and new faces to Bembridge in early October for the start of the 2019-2020 season.

Additional photos from this weekend:

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1David Russell‑Jones1553111439
2Bill Daniels68112271113
3Philip Russell15316362718
4Mike Toogood14254438218
5John Raymond15163745523
6Julia Bailey157159523625
7Mike Issaias152751189433
8Owen Pay11310956838
9Jamie Scrimgeour50188810101044
10Olly Laughton‑Scott801076SSS59
11Robin Ebsworth12SSS97961
12Archie Hinde101161110SSS73
13Jo Downer1662SSSSS74
14Mark Downer1644SSSSS76
15Joss Laughton‑Scott281212RSSS78
17Andrew Eddy271413RSSS81

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