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Bembridge Illusion Bill's Barrel 2022

by Mike Samuelson 24 Jan 13:14 GMT 22-23 January 2022

The Notice of Race for the annual Bill's Barrell sponsored by Bill Daniels with support from Goddards Brewery with its tongue in cheek mischievousness is always awaited with baited breath and this year's version was no exception!

The development of the post racing Quiz, for all competitors, with results used to decide any tied placings and potential to settle any other disagreements between the racers is unique and this year the ambiguous questions and multi-choice answers raised a number of hilarious protests all overruled by the committee using special regatta rule no. 9 in the bar after racing.

Otherwise the on water racing was as competitive as ever in light winter winds, with the added interest of the extra 4th race each day where the race committee have the option to set additional marks, marks to starboard or leeward courses etc. to make it memorable weekend. The prizes, for all competitors who make it from the dinghy park as far as the prize-giving in the clubhouse, supported by Goddards Brewery and Bill are also unusual but very welcome!

With quite neapy tides and a light NNW'erly breeze which delayed launching and meant getting out to the start area off Silver Beach took longer than normal resulted in a half hour postponement for the first race on Saturday. However, racing outside the harbour was definitely the right decision as it provided a reasonably long windward leg. The start to the first race was a cracker with the front echelon of the twenty boat fleet all within inches when the hooter sounded.

Start of Race 1

Raymond Simonds was first round the windward marks with Mark Downer, Graham Sunderland and Jo Downer leading the chasing Fleet. Raymond held his nerve in the 'flicky' conditions that saw 15 + degree wind shifts to finish inches ahead of Matk with Graham and Jo picking up third and fourth.

The start of the second race was not quite as picture perfect, however put the cat amongst the pigeons and it was Monty Irwin's black spinnaker that was the first to fly on the downwind leg.

Start of Race 2

Julia Bailey's white spinnaker was next and then it her 'astonishment' it was new to the fleet Anna Row's red and yellow one. Although sadly Anna was unable to hold off the chasing fleet on the second round, to be third through the leeward gate was still a great boost to her moral. As it was, Julia over took Monty on the second round and finished comfortably ahead. Ed Peel was third. A little lower down, Olly Laughton-Scott and Graham Sunderland tied for fourth.

Graham was perfectly position at the start of the third race and had established a safe lead ahead of Raymond, David Peerless and Oliver Morgan by the windward mark.

Start of Race 3

Despite the breeze veering 20+ degrees during the second round, Graham held onto his lead ahead of Raymond and Oliver. In a very close finish Julia and John Raymond tied in fourth place. Ed Peel retired after his spinnaker halyard came undone and his self-help solution was not very successful!

To ring the changes and in the spirit of the NoR, the course for the fourth and final race of the day was modified to one and a half rounds with the finish in the harbour just off the BSC pontoon. It was also started under Flag U! With the final minute counting down, Anna found herself having to cross the line well before the hooter, however fortunately got a 'get out jail free' card when a plethora of boats joined her in the last couple of seconds and a General Recall was called. Although the second start, also under Flag U, saw Anna just over, the rest of the fleet held back slightly and got away smoothly.

Re-Start of Race 4

Bill, Mark, John Raymond, Robin Ebsworth and John Birchenough were the front five after the first run but at the end of the day, the final finishing order came down to which side of the harbour entrance one took to get into the harbour. Raymond who was buried mid fleet as he rounded the windward marks for the second time, felt he had nothing to loose so stayed close to the Bembridge shore which, much to most people's surprise (especially Mark, Ed and John R) paid off in spades and he crossed the line a few boat lengths ahead of Olly who had followed similar tactics. Lower down Julia just pipped Philip Russell and Jo Downer in an exciting finish. Sadly for him, Graham had had to retire after the first round when his steering came adrift.

Sunday looked as if it was going to be pretty similar to the previous day; certainly there was a shortage of water and wind when eighteen Illusionists met in the Illusion Park at midday, however an hour and a quarter later, things had improved significantly and the standard course was set just outside the harbour to cater for the 10 knot ENE'erly breeze. The first start however was not a great success and resulted in a General Recall. The re-start under Flag U went better!

Start of Race 5 (Sunday)

Re-Start of Race 5 (Sunday)

Mark was well ahead by the windward mark and never look under too much pressure from the chasing fleet led by Raymond, Ed and Oliver. In the second round, Mark extended his lead and Ed overtook Raymond. Jo and Julia finished inches apart in sixth and seventh.

The second race saw another close start under Flag U. David Russell-Jones was first to round the windward marks and was still in front at the leeward gate, but Mark reeled him in on the second beat and took his second win of the day. Julia was third.

Start of Race 6 (Sunday)

There was a pause while the course was re-jigged slightly after the breeze veered more easterly. Started again under Flag U, Julia very nearly overcooked it but was given the benefit of doubt as the increasing swell began to move the line around a bit!

Start of Race 7 (Sunday)

Mark, Raymond and David R-J lead the first round but then from some way back, Philip Russell got the break and emerged as the leader at the start of the second run. Despite Mark and Raymond best efforts, Philip managed to hang on and finish comfortably ahead with Mark coming second but only by an inch or so.

With conditions getting lumpier and colder, the fourth and final race of the day was a beat to the windward marks, a run to the gate and then a challenging final leg to the finish off the BSC pontoon.

Start of Race 8 (Sunday)

Philip's yellow spinnaker was again the first to show after the spreader mark closely followed by Ed's pink spinnaker and Mike Toogood's red one. As they entered the harbour the breeze died on them and it became something of a lottery as to who was going to find the best zephyr to propel them over the line. In the event it was Ed, followed by Mike with Philip third. Mark meanwhile somehow pulled back from mid-fleet to finish fifth.

Eight races with no discard saw Raymond win Bill's Barrel by a single point; Mark was second and Ed, after a tie break with Julia was third. Although at the back, it was great to see Penny Stanley having another go in an Illusion; her smile at the end of each race suggests that she will be back!

No racing next weekend due to the tides; the next Regatta is in a fortnight (5th & 6th February) with the Valentine Trophy on the Saturday and Prince Philip Cup on the Sunday.

Additional photos at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1Raymond Simonds1651421363424
2Mark Downer1642563112525
3Ed Peel16153R4244146
4Julia Bailey15771477361146
5Jo Downer166491496781370
6Philip Russell1531313178891372
7Mike Toogood14291071291712278
8Owen Pay1051261114111111783
9David Peerless140141681610105685
10Oliver Morgan16981231141316S90
11Bill Daniels1351514101058141591
12Hugh Doherty124111591715513994
13Robin Ebsworth121819166121298100
14Mike Issiais1521918181516151010121
15John Birchenough37620161914181514122
16Olly Laughton‑Scott80o107122SSSS123
17Graham Sunderland21371RSSSS126
19David Russell‑Jones155SSSS132712126
19John Raymond151161145SSSS128
20Anna Row80a2017191817141716138
21Monty Irwin1471921313SSSS139
22Penny Stanley80pSSSS18161817161

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