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Weather at Sea by Simon Rowell
Weather at Sea by Simon Rowell

Bembridge Illusion Guy Fawkes Trophy & Picnic Hamper

by Mike Samuelson 7 Dec 2020 05:43 GMT 5-6 December 2020

Although the weekend was originally scheduled for the annual team racing championships, the uncertainty over lockdown saw these being postponed to late February and fleet racing programmed in lieu. Saturday for the Guy Fawkes Trophy and Sunday for the Picnic Hamper; both four races with a discard.

After a four week enforced break, it was great to see 23 boats being rigged up in the Illusion Park on Saturday late morning. Mind you there were a few doubts as to the wisdom with grey skies, waves breaking over the Duver Wall and gusts of 25 knots whistling down the harbour. However, as it was a SE'erly, conditions in the harbour were not in fact too bad. After a short postponement to allow everyone to reach the start area close to Fisherman's Pontoon, the first start was pretty impressive for most, particularly as it was gusting 20 knots!

Start of Race 1 Saturday

Mark Downer was soon in the lead but it was great to see Julia Bailey, racing for the first time this winter, not far behind. Rory Morrison and Bruce Huber lead the chasing group. Although Mark extended his lead on the second round, Julia held onto second and Bruce just pipped Rory by inches on the line to take third.

The start of the second race kept everyone on their toes and ended up with a general recall followed by the AP flag half way through the second sequence when the breeze backed to the east.

First Start of Race 2 Saturday

In trying to re-set the course the Committee Boat picked up a mooring chain however having set a tripping line was able to extract the anchor and re-set the line. And when they did eventually get away under the Flag U, the Committee Boat was holding position using her engine after she started drifting with a minute to go! The re-set course provided much longer legs and it was not long before Bruce established a substantial lead, however Mark caught up during the second round and they entered the leeward gate together. In the final short leg to the finish line it looked as if Mark was going to finish ahead, however Bruce ended up crossing the line inches ahead. Raymond Simonds was third and Colin Simmonds was fourth.

After further anchoring difficulties the third race, again under Flag U, got away smoothly.

Start of Race 3 Saturday

Although it was another Mark & Bruce dual at the front, there were a number of very close battles mid-fleet with David Russell-Jones just beating Jo Downer, Philip Russell just ahead of Bill Daniels and Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore just finishing in front of Olly Laughton-Scott.

The fourth and final race of the day, started again under Flag U, was a two and a half rounder with the finish at the windward mark close to the Illusion dock.

Start of Race 4 Saturday

Mark established a good lead ahead of Bruce with Colin, Rory and Bill vying for third. Fortunately Mark was far enough ahead on the second run to remain in front despite having a problem with his spinnaker and only using a goose winged genoa. As in the previous race, some close finishes mid-fleet.

A challenging afternoon's racing for competitors and race officers! Overall, Mark was first with 3 points; Bruce was second with 5 points and Julia third on a tie break with Colin and Jo.

What a difference 24 hours makes! Bright blue skies and a gentle Northerly breeze greeted the 24 entries for Sunday's four race Picnic Hamper. With so many entries and the need to maintain social distancing while launching, the start of the first race was over fifteeen minutes later than planned. Starting straight under under Flag U, it was not long before Mark and Bruce gained an unbeatable lead ahead of Alastair Speare-Cole and the Simond's brothers.

Start of Race 1 Sunday

With the breeze backing and constraints where the windward marks could be laid, it was decided that the simplest solution was for the Committee Boat to move a hundred meters or so to the east. After another good start, Mark dominated the second race with Bruce, Julia and Raymond fighting for second and third places. Mid-fleet again saw some excellent close racing with only seconds separating 12th to 15th places. Determined to finish without assistance after he had problems with his genoa furler, Owen Pay showed everyone that 'going for a swim' was one way of trying to sort it out!

Start of Race 2 Sunday

The third race got away to a clean start and even though he was close to the line at the pin end when the hooter sounded, Mark found himself mid-fleet at the windward marks and had to make do with 8th place. Meanwhile it was nip and tuck for the race leaders Julia, Raymond, Colin, Bruce and David Peerless; however after a number of place changes, Bruce took first with Raymond and Colin picking up second and third.

Start of Race 3 Sunday

At least ten boats breathed a sigh of relief when the start (under Flag U) of the fourth and final race went to a General Recall. Sadly for Mark & Colin, they were disqualified when they over cooked the second start under Black Flag rules!

Start of Race 4 Sunday

There was no holding back as far as Raymond was concerned and after the first (of three) rounds he was a long way ahead of Bruce; Jo picked up a well deserved third and well done to Caroline Simonds who came in fourth. Despite the slightly longer race, mere seconds separated 5th to 8th places.

Overall, this meant that Bruce retained the Picnic Hamper with a final total of 5 points; Raymond was second with 7 points and Mark was third with 10 points.

An excellent weekend's racing. It's the Christmas Cracker in a fortnight.

Additional photos at

Guy Fawkes Trophy Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4Pts
1Mark Downer16412113
2Bruce Huber10131225
3Julia Bailey1572106614
4Colin Simonds1381045514
5Jo Downer1665541814
6David Russell‑Jones155683917
7Bill Daniels68978318
8Rory Morrison12041115419
9Raymond Simonds165R39820
10Philip Russell15311671424
11Robin Ebsworth12813101129
12Jonathan Nainby‑L158151212731
13Serena Gosling122139181234
14Monty Irwin1471618111037
15David Peerless14071621R44
16Owen Pay11711162044
17Olly Laughton‑Scott801219132144
18Hugh Doherty1241814171344
19Mike Issaias1521915141645
20Andy Christie1491617191548
21John Birchenough372020201959
22Caroline Simonds38RR221762

Picnic Hamper Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4Pts
1Bruce Huber10122125
2Raymond Simonds16544217
3Mark Downer164118D10
4Colin Simonds138563D14
5Julia Bailey157635714
6Alastair Speare‑Cole13535141018
7Caroline Simonds3812117422
8David Peerless14010941123
9David Russell‑Jones15511761224
9Bill Daniels687129824
11Jo Downer16616815326
12Rory Morrison12091010928
13Serena Gosling122131512530
14Oliver Morgan186813201637
15Mike Issaias152171818641
16Olly Laughton‑Scott801516111742
17Simon Birchenough1362117131343
18Hugh Doherty1241914191548
19Owen Pay10514R231451
20Andy Christie1492021171956
21John Birchenough372323161857
22Robin Ebsworth121822212160
23Matt Solan1062219222061
24Chris Osborne144242024R68

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