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Final Weekend of the 2021 Bembridge Keelboat Season

by Mike Samuelson 28 Sep 11:47 BST 25-26 September 2021

At one stage earlier in the day on Saturday it looked as if the lack of a breeze was going to stymie the penultimate day's racing of the 2021 keelboat season, however by lunchtime things began to look more promising (SSE F2) for the six Redwings and six One-Designs keen to race.

Having negotiated with the BHYC RO what inshore buoys they were planning on using, the start line for the first of two races was set up off Footprint; there was then a short beat to Garland, a run to Janson and a beat to the finish at Under Tyne. The Redwings got away to a clean start with Lara Crisp helming Blue Jay trying a port tack flyer at the pin end of the line. Mark Downer in Enigma (crewed by Illusion sailor Bill Daniels) went about as soon as he was clear of the Committee Boat and even though it was not far away was able to round Garland with a substantial lead. Indeed one that he was able to build on on the run to Janson and beat back to Under Tyne to finish just over three minutes ahead of Joe & Annie Robertson in Red Gauntlet II. Serena Gosling in Gosling (crewed by Digby Morrison) was third six seconds later.

Start of the 1st Redwing race

With the breeze backing to the ESE, the second race got under way pretty quickly. The windward mark was Cochrane which, as always in light airs, proved to be quite a challenge which split the fleet with some going in close to the Lifeboat Offshore Boathouse and others staying off shore. Joe in Red Gauntlett II went for the middle route which paid off as the fickle breeze punished those who opted for the extremities. Second to round Cochrane was Redwing helmed by Nick Woolgar. Progress was painfully slow on the long run to Drum, however the beat back to Footprint proved to be another interesting challenge that saw Joe extend his lead to finish nearly five minutes ahead of Serena with Nick half a minute later.

Start of the 2nd Redwing Race

The One-Designs (rigged with their genoas) meanwhile had the same course as the Redwings for their first race and a shorter course for the second. Charles Perry with Dominic Powell crewing in No 8 seemed a bit surprised to be called OCS at the start of the first race, but the video shows he was perhaps being a bit optimistic!

Start of the 1st One-Design race

Russ Fowler with Rob Mathieson in No 1, reached Garland first and over the next two legs to the finish at Under Tyne extended his lead to finish three minutes ahead of Charles Evans and Hugh Doherty in No 11. Charles Perry in No 8 was third three minutes later. And Susie Beart in No 5 was fourth 3 minutes later!

With Cochrane a step too far for the One-Designs, their windward marks for the second rave was Tata. Although not a perfect beat and not very far, it was still an interesting challenge. Charles in No 8 was again pushing his luck as he sailed up the line at the start but this time he was given the benefit of doubt and not called back!

Start of the 2nd One-Design race

No 1, helmed by Rob was first around Tara and led the fleet to Drum; indeed was still in front as the front group neared Nainby, however things did not work out quite as hoped and Charles in No 8 managed to overtake the front three boats as they rounded Nainby and was able to hold onto the lead on the close reach to the finish at Pepe. No 11 helmed by Hugh Doherty was second, just under half a minute behind. There was very little in it between Rob in No 1 and Susie in No 5 with the former finishing half a boat length in front.

Conditions on Sunday afternoon could best be described as 'champagne' with a F4 SW'erly and a smooth sea. Rather a pity therefore that there were only six Redwings and four One-Designs out for the last race of the season. With the start line at Footprint and the inflatable laid as the windward mark not far from Pepe, the first beat was spot on and the Redwing fleet split tacks; then it was a long run to Ruthven which Olav Cole in Redwing rounded first ahead of Joe Robertson in Red Gauntlet II and Mark Downer in Enigma. Serena Gosling in Gosling tacked on rounding and came inshore leaving the remainder to go the outer route towards Priory Bay. Most tacked before they reached the Fort, although Enigma did go on but then overstood the mark which in the event paid off and put them into second place behind Redwing. Places remained unchanged on the second shorter round to Janson and back to the finish at the inflatable. Lots of split tacking but in the end Olav finished two and a half minutes ahead of Mark with Joe over a minute ahead of Joe. Serena was fourth.

The four One-Designs had the same windward inflatable mark but then had Janson as their leeward mark. No 1 helmed by Russ Fowler made a good start to windward but they were all close as they rounded the windward mark for the first time. On the second beat No 1 and No 9, helmed by Penny Stanley went north of the Fort before tacking in, however it was No 8, helmed by Charles Perry that established what looked like an unbeatable lead. Although on the final beat to the finish he rather overstood and Russ in No 1 nearly managed to catch him, in the end Charles crossed the line twenty seconds ahead. D Orange in No 12 was third and Penny in No 9 was fourth.

Very satisfying final races of what has certainly been an 'interesting & challenging' season. The Illusions start their winter season in a fortnight's time and we look forward to seeing everyone back enjoying the close and friendly racing.

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