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Bembridge Sailing Club keelboat racing on the hottest weekend of the year so far

by Mike Samuelson 19 Jul 11:53 BST 16-18 July 2021

Late tides again so the programme offered races at 17:30 on Friday evening for the 'Friday Night Challenge' as an incentive to position boats at Under Tyne for the weekend.

In the event, three Redwings and two One-Designs joined the Race Officers off Janson under a cloudless sky and gentle SE'erly breeze. Unusually the One-Designs were started first as there was a bit of confusion over whether a fourth Redwing was planning on racing. No 1 helmed by Russ Fowler tacked quite soon after the start and took the in-shore route to Tara, while No 4 helmed single handed by John Suffield remained on starboard. The latter route paid off in spades and John rounded Tara well ahead; a lead he held onto for the slow run to Britten and initially the close reach to the finish at E (after the breeze had veered to the right); however as he closed on E and the breeze backed, it looked as though Russ was going to overtake him, but in the final tack John just remained in front and finished a couple of seconds ahead.

The three Redwings had Derrick as their leeward mark and prior to rounding were all quite close with Mark Downer in Enigma marginally ahead of Andrew Eddy in Plover and Olav Cole in Redwing. However Mark's decision not to head too far inshore towards Priory Bay paid off and put him well ahead at the finish. Plover and Redwing meanwhile had a close race with the latter crossing the finish a couple of seconds ahead.

On Saturday afternoon eleven Redwings and two One-Designs enjoyed another afternoon of a cloudless sky and a gentle (F2-3) SSE'erly breeze. With all the Redwings ready to go ahead of the programmed start time, the decision to start five minutes early was welcomed. After a clean start off the line at Janson, the fleet quickly split on the beat to Tara.

Start of Race 1 Saturday

The boats remaining on starboard offshore had to do a bit of dodging to avoid the single-handed Round the Island race that were coming down under spinnakers from Bembridge Ledge, but there were not that many so it was not a problem. First round was Toucan, helmed by Colin Samuelson with Avocet helmed by Jessica Spear-Cole close behind. There was then a gap to Snow Goose, Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore, Enigma, Mark Downer and Redwing, Nick Woolgar. On the slow run to Derrick, the fleet split both sides of the track in the hopes of finding the better tide and breeze. After an interesting beat back to the line where the race was shortened, Colin extended his lead slightly and finished a minute ahead of Jessica; Jonathan was third two minutes later with Mark fourth half a minute later.

The start of the second race was tighter than the first with Meri Benham in Paroquet given the benefit of doubt!

Start of Race 2 Saturday

With the breeze veering slightly, the windward mark had been changed to E which made for slightly different tactics. First to reach the buoy was Redwing, helmed by Olav Cole who immediately went about and found himself trying to cross most of the rest of the fleet on the port lay line which certainly made for some interesting video even if no protests!

Windward Mark Race 2 Saturday

Olav held onto his lead on the run to Britten but after the challenging beat back to E, it was Joe Robinson in Red Gauntlet II who popped out ahead and crossed the line twenty seconds ahead of Jonathan in Snow Goose with Olav third just over half a minute later. Lower down the fleet there were some very close finishes, in particular Avocet & Harlequin and Enigma & Paroquet who were a second apart.

There were only two One-Designs; Simon Allocca & Peter Summerhays in No 1 and William Bland & Helen Mathieson in No 12. Clean starts in both races and No 1 got away on the first beats to finish well ahead in both races. The first race was shortened after the beat to Tara and the run back to Janson, the second (E - B - E) ran its full course with No 4, helmed by Peter, finishing over 10 minutes ahead of No 12, helmed by Helen.

Another hot (no complaints!) afternoon on Sunday and although Chimet was registering a F3 SSW breeze, it was still a SSE F2-3 off Bembridge. This meant similar courses to the previous day for the one race programmed. With the line at Janson, ten Redwings made a clean start and had a good beat to Tara, however as they approached the leeward mark (K), the breeze died off and the race almost re-starting. Four boats rounded the buoy and then went about and headed offshore, while the remainder headed inshore towards Priory Bay. Although most thought of kedging to wait for the breeze to fill in, in the event none did. Mark Downer, in Enigma, was the first to pick it up offshore and finished at Under Tyne (E) five minutes before Avocet, helmed by Jessica Spear-Cole. Third was the first of the inshore fleet, Snow Goose helmed by Jonathan Nainby- Luxmoore two minutes later. On a count back between Avocet & Snow Goose, the former emerged the winner of the weekend's Mackinnon Trophy.

There were four One-Designs racing and they faired little better than the Redwings did when the breeze dropped despite using Britten for their leeward mark. Although taking a penalty after getting hooked up on Britten, Sarah Marshall in No 7, crossed the finish line five minutes ahead of Peter Summerhayes in No 1 having taken the inshore route to Under Tyne (E). There was a similar gap to third, Tim Cottrell in No 11; No 5 retired. Two firsts and a second over the weekend meant that No 1 won the Oppenheim Trophy that was up for grabs having been postponed from its traditional Easter slot.

Next Saturday morning is the Village Regatta, and Sunday is the 'Edwardian Race' which the Race Officers try to course set using only the buoys that were around pre-war. Edwardian dress is also encouraged!

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