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Illusion Team Racing at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 22 Nov 2021 06:15 GMT 20-21 November 2021

Although it was a full house of eight teams of two Illusions per team for this year's inter Club Team Racing, the field arguably lacked some of the previous winners; that said there was some very close racing in the light airs on Saturday and Sunday's racing was certainly quite challenging with the occasional gust of 22 knots!

Indeed Saturday's forecast was for such little wind that initially it looked as if racing was not going to be viable. However, an hour later than scheduled and after moving the course from in the harbour to just outside as the beginnings of a northerly sailable breeze began to kick in. The first flight of four races started off reasonably, but the races became inter-mixed as the breeze dropped off again.

Despite the fluky conditions, most of the finishes were very close with BSC 1 (Mike Toogood & Olly Laughton-Scott) taking first and third to beat RTYC (Andy Christie & Richard Ambler); BSC 2 (Jo & Mark Downer) had similar success against SVYC 1 (Owen Pay & David Russell-Jones); CCCA (Alastair Speare-Cole & Colin Simonds) took first and second against SVYC 2 (Matt Solan & John Birchenough), and ASA (David Peerless & Andy Snell) beat RORC (Monty Irwin & Hugh Doherty) with a first and a third.

Flight 2 started well but towards the end the breeze backed and the final beat was more of a close reach. All four races had very close finishes with SVYC 1, BSC 2, ASA and RTYC coming out on top. After a short delay while the course was reset, Flight 3 saw ASA scoring an impressive win over BSC 2. Other winners were CCCA, RTYC and RORC.

ASA v BSC 2 at the leeward mark Flight 3

Flight 4 did not go ASA's way and after a couple of calls against them, BSC 1 chalked up a noteable victory in the last few boat lengths to the line. CCCA, RTYC and BSC 3 all won with firsts and seconds. Flight 5 almost saw BSC 2 being beaten by SVYC 2 but their greater experienced got them through. ASA, RTYC and BSC 1 all chalked up wins as well.

Mixed fortunes in the penultimate flight with BSC 1, ASA, BSC 2 and SVYC 2 coming out ahead. Had there been time, the ASA v CCCA race would probably have been re-run after Alastair Speare-Cole had a problem with his steering just prior to their start. But time was tight as the tide was dropping quickly, it was decided to go for the final flight instead. BSC 2 beat BSC 1 but it was by no means a walkover. SVYC 2, ASA and CCCA took firsts and seconds against SVYC 1, RTYC and RORC but again the scores do not reflect the close racing.

The day therefore finished with BSC 2 and ASA on top with 6 wins and BSC 1, RTYC and CCCA with 4 wins. All still therefore to race for on Sunday which is forecast to be windier and colder.

Bright sunshine and F4-5 Northerly greeted the twelve helms (Hugh Doherty, Monty Irwin, Richard Ambler & Olly Laughton-Scott had other commitments) as they got ready for a second round robin followed by the best of five finals and best of three race offs. With conditions outside the harbour clearly not suitable for Illusions, a north/south course was set up inside the harbour and the first of five flights got under way almost on time. David Russell-Jones found himself starting incorrectly and had to return to correct himself, however soon caught up and with Owen Pay was within inches of winning the first race against BSC 1. BSC 2 and ASA both won their first races without too much trouble.

Finish SVYC 1 v CCCA Sunday

Finish CCCA v ASA Sunday

Flight 2 saw two very close finishes with SVYC 2 gaining their first win of the weekend against CCCA by inches and SVYC 1 beating ASA after David Peerless picked up penalties at both the start and the finish. Flight 3 had BSC 2 against ASA however unlike the previous day, the Downers were able to establish an unbeatable lead. Flight 4 saw BSC 1 almost beat ASA but Mike Toogood was unable to hold off late challenges from David. The final flight became quite challenging as a 20+ knot squall came through; ASA against CCCA was close with the final positions being decided in the last 20 metres or so.

CCCA v SVYC 1 at leeward mark

SVYC 2 v BSC 1 finishing

By aggregating the two round robin results, the top two for the final were BSC 2 (Jo and Mark Downer with 11 wins) and ASA (David Peerless and Andy Snell with 8 wins); the race off for 3rd & 4th places came out as CCCA (Colin Simonds and Alastair Speare-Cole with 6 wins) against SVYC 1 (Owen Pay and David Russell-Jones with 6 wins) which left BSC 1 (Mike Toogood and Andy Christie) against SVYC 2 (John Birchebough and Matt Solan) to battle it out for 5th & 6th places.

In the first race in the best of five finals, Jo and Mark, revelling in the windier conditions, were just too strong for David and Andy and in fact David retired after taking a knock on the head from the boom. Despite their best efforts to knock the Downer's off their winning streak, both the second and third races saw Mark & Jo take first and second places to therefore retain the Inter Club Team racing trophy.

ASA v BSC 2 final race

Although close, in the sail off for 3rd & 4th, Owen and David won two straight races and in the 5th & 6th sail off, Mike & Andy finished in 5th place after John retired in their first race and headed back to the Illusion Quay.

CCCA v SVYC 1 finishing

An excellent couple of days of very competitive racing. None of which is possible of course without umpires and the team on the Committee boat so a big thank you to everyone who helped over the weekend.

Additional photos at

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