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Illusion 2022 National Championship at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 7 Mar 07:04 GMT 5-6 March 2022

Mid-week the forecast was looking very promising for the weekend's 2022 National Championships, and although it was certainly not champagne conditions, the cold NNE F4-5 breeze on Saturday and ENE F4-5 breeze on Sunday actually provided some excellent racing in the harbour.

With the wind direction as it was, the across harbour course was inevitably quite short and all three of Saturday's races had four rounds. With 29 boats entered, the problem of needing a long start line but a shorter 'though the line' line was resolved by starting with a long line and then reducing it by nearly half for the rest of the race.

The first race got away to a clean start with both Mark Downer and Bruce Huber close to the pin and the rest of the fleet nicely spread out along the line.

Start of Race 1

Sadly Owen Pay retired with rudder issues before crossing the line and despite best efforts to get it sorted ended up back in the Illusion Park hoping for better fortune on Sunday. In the meantime, it was visitor Simon Childs from Middle Nene SC who was first to round the windward mark with the visiting 2021 Champion Jack Grogan and Ed Peel close behind. Although Mark and Bruce were not far behind, neither could initially get past the front three. However as the race unfolded, Mark moved up into second but could not close the gap on Jack who had established an unbeatable lead. Simon was third and Ed and Bruce were fourth and fifth. A bit lower down, Mike Toogood and David Russell-Jones tied in 8th place.

There were too many boats over the line at the start of the second race so it was back for a second start but this time under Flag U.

Start of Race 2 (General Recall)

Re-start of Race 2

Although it was a clean start, Mark found himself stuck at the Committee Boat after a slight altercation with David Peerless (who took a penalty) so was always in catch up mode. Jack lead the way with Ed, Simon and Bruce close behind. As the race unfolded, Ed whittled down Jack's lead and by the fourth round had moved to the front. It was good to see George (Downer) take third with Simon fourth. As always, some really close racing further down the fleet; of particular note were Raymond Simonds, Mike Troogood and Rosie Gosling who finished inches apart in sixth, seventh and eighth places. Sadly Jo (Downer) had to retire early on in the race when her genoa luff parted company.

During Race 2

Flag U was displayed again for the third and final race of the day that saw the wind strength vary between 13 & 21 knots. After a clean start and split tacks on the relatively short first beat, Simon's grey spinnaker was first to appear on the run to the leeward gate, with Jack's florescent green and Ed's pink spinnakers not far behind.

Start of Race 3

Jack moved up into the lead on the second round with Simon and Raymond exchanging places a number of times as the race unfolded. Although the former was able to hang onto second, Raymond dropped down the order after Jo, Mark and Bruce powered their way through into third, fourth and fifth places.

During Race 3

Finishing at the windward mark after four & a half rounds was a test of perseverance for some but overall it was a good way to finish an excellent day's racing.

Olly Laughton-Scott's special prize-giving at the end of a very successful dinner in the Library at BSC on Saturday evening brought the house down and finished off an excellent evening.

As forecast, Sunday's F4 - F5 breeze had veered to the ENE, which meant a slightly longer course was possible and by keeping clear of Fisherman's Pontoon mean that there was enough room inside the harbour for the Illusions and BHYC's Frostbite races.

Reverting back to Flag P for the first race of the day proved successful and although Anna Row overcooked it, the hooter was a bit late so she got away with it!

Start of Race 4

Although the majority remained on starboard all the way to the St Helens shore, there were a number who went the other way hoping to pick up the back eddy along the Redwing Quay. Jo and Simon were the early leaders with Bruce and Jack chasing hard. On the second round Jo lost the use of her spinnaker, which slowed her down a bit. In the second round, Bruce kept to the right and came out in front ahead of Simon and Jack, however on the third round Jack was able to move up into second. Mark was fourth and Ed was fifth.

During Race 4

Another clean start using Flag P saw a good clean start with the majority at the Committee boat end of the line. Mark was the first to round the windward marks ahead of Jo and Ed. As the race progressed Mark established a huge lead and Ed overtook Jo to secure a very safe second ahead of her. Bruce was fourth. Lower down there were three close finishes which showed yet again how competitive the Illusion fleet is.

Start Race 5

Just prior to the start sequence for the final race of the day, the breeze picked up to 22 knots before settling back down to a more manageable 15 knots. As the video shows, a number of boats were within inches when the hooter sounded.

Start Race 6

Lots of split tacking throughout the three and a half round race saw Bruce establish himself at the front of the fleet ahead of Simon, Ed, Nigel Grogan and Jo. Sadly for Simon his steering broke so he had to retire. By the final beat Mark had moved up into second with Jack in third. Jo and George were neck and neck at the final beat and only inches separating them as they finished on the windward mark.

During Race 6

Despite Bruce and Mark managing to keep Jack out of first place on Sunday, his consistency over the two days ensured that he retained the overall Trophy (and first visitor). Mark retained his place as the runner-up and Bruce, after a tie break with Ed was third again. Jo retained the Ladies Trophy; Raymond the Over 65 and Robin Ebsworth the Over 80 award.

A great weekend's racing, with a big thank you to all the Competitors (especially the visitors) and the Race Management team.

Additional photos at

No racing next weekend (12th & 13th March) and then its the Stratton Memorial Trophy the following one (19th & 20th March).

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Illusion nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6PtsNotes
1Jack Grogan8612125391st & 1st Visitor
2Mark Downer164294412132nd
3Bruce Huber101555141163rd
4Ed Peel16141752416Most Improved
5Simon Childs16334238R20 
6Jo Downer1666R363725ADY
7Raymond Simonds1657661465301st over 65
8George Downer2173997836 
9Nigel Grogan1681010879640 
10Rosie Gosling1301381623131262 
11Monty Irwin14716141313171167 
12Olly Laughton‑Scott8015191021141068 
13David Russell‑Jones1558152015181369 
14Jonathan Nainby‑Luxmoore1582421118151570 
15John Raymond15112111718161571 
16David Peerless14023241511111474 
17Oliver Morgan1692113R10122278 
18Robin Ebsworth12191718172221921st over 80
19Justin Biddle85SSS1210993 
20Alastair Speare‑Cole13514201220RS97 
21Rory Morrison120111214SSS99 
22Phil Aspinall6726R21191916101 
23John Birchenough372218R222020102 
24Mike Issaias15218RS162118104 
25Mike Toogood1087RSSS108 
26Anna Row80a282222242319110 
27Matt Solan106201619RSS117 
28Owen Pay105SSSSSS124 
29Richard Ambler15625RS2524R136 
30Andy Christie1492723RSSS143 

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