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Illusion Trafalgar Trophy 2022 at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 16 Oct 2022 23:03 BST 15-16 October 2022

With the racing for this year's Trafalgar Trophy programmed for Saturday afternoon and a 35 knot squall hitting the harbour at about midday, the Race Officer thought that the chances of getting any racing were slim, however by about 13:30 the sky had cleared and with the SW'erly breeze settling down a bit, thirteen boats launched ready to see what the weather Gods would come up with.

After a short postponement to allow the last boats to join the rest in the middle of the harbour the first race got away to a clean start in gusts of just over 20 knots.

Video: Start of Race 1 (Authors/cameraman's note; had a senior moment towards the end of the start video when I said it was the first race for the Guy Fawkes Trophy!)

Although the first leg to the windward mark was not that far, Bruce Huber had already shown that he was out to win the Trophy again and rounded well ahead of Rory Morrison, David Peerless and Hugh Doherty. At the front of the fleet, spinnakers were flown; mid fleet it was about 50/50 and at the back, most decided to play safe - that is with the exception of Anna Row who was determined to show solidarity with Ukraine by flying her blue and yellow spinnaker come what may!

The wind speed dropped to around 12 knots mid-way through the second round to the evident relief of the less experienced. By the time he crossed the line to complete three rounds, Bruce had extended his lead and Rory increased the gap to third placed Hugh. The next group lead by Alastair Speare-Cole had some close racing with the order mostly resting on which leeward gate mark they rounded.

The second race started with a bit of bumping mid-line but little evidence of any penalties being taken!

Having kept clear of the mid-line blockage, it was Bruce's green boat that again rounded the windward mark well ahead of the rest; Hugh lead the next group which included Caroline Simonds, Rory and Oliver Morgan. The second and third rounds saw a couple of place changes and some close racing between the rest as the 20 knot gusts and 5+ degree windshifts played out. Although unable to close the gap on Bruce, Rory did widen the gap between himself and Oliver with Hugh coming fourth.

The third race saw the best start of the day and it came as no great surprise to see Bruce rounding the windward marks in the lead with Hugh and Rory vying for second and third.

Video: Start of Race 3

Having decided to let the race run for four rounds rather than trying to fit in a fourth race, ended up to David Peerless's disadvantage when his mainsail began to drop as he came to finish the third round and thinking the main halyard had broken (he subsequently found it had simply uncleated itself) he retired. Hugh meanwhile, having worked himself into second ahead of Rory, had a problem with his genoa furling and failed to notice a moored boat which put him back into third.

Coming down to the leeward gate for the final time, Bruce, who was well ahead at the time and looking certain to pick up his third win of the day, was caught by a 26 knot gust, broached and filled up close to the Committee Boat. Unfazed, he hastily got pumping and after a couple of minutes had enough buoyancy to continue racing, albeit having to make do with a seventh.

Sunday's forecast was for considerably less wind and sunny periods; in the event there was hardly a breath as sailors began rigging but then its always quite deceptive when its a SSE'erly breeze as the Sailing Club is well protected. The prospect of a workable breeze outside that harbour saw the Committee Boat heading out and a course set off Silver Beach.

Despite the 8 knot breeze varying 15 degrees at times, the first race of the day got away to an excellent start.

Video: Start of Race 4

But with Bruce Huber simply motoring away from the rest of the fleet, the scene was set by the time he reached the first windward mark; and by the end of the three round race he had extended his lead to 2 minutes. Second throughout was Alastair Speare-Cole who finished well ahead of Owen Pay. The next six or seven boats were very close and clearly had had an excellent race.

Bruce again lead off the start line in the penultimate race and although he had to give way to Rory as they crossed tacks as they started the second round, he was back in front again on the next tack and never looked back. Caroline Simonds and Alastair had a good battle for third and fourth with Caroline finishing less than a second ahead.

Video: Start of Race 5

After re-setting the Committee Boat after it was realised that it had dragged in the increasing swell, the start of the final race of the day saw the only General Recall of the weekend. The second start, under Flag U was clear but as evidenced by the video, it was a close run thing particularly at the pin end of the line! Perfect timing and great boat control.

Video: Re-Start of Race 6

Bruce, hunting for his third win of the day, did not disappoint and led almost from the first tack. But it was Mike Issaias's blue spinnaker flying in second place that was perhaps the surprise of day! Undaunted though, Mike kept the chasing fleet led by Rory at bay and with the drizzle and grey clouds building was delighted when the race was finished after only two rounds.

A great way to finish a challenging weekend's racing.

So Bruce with five wins retained the Trafalgar Trophy for another year; Rory was second and Alastair was third.

No racing next weekend as the tides are wrong; the following one (29th & 30th October) is for the Flying Dutchman Trophy with starts at 13:00 both days.

Overall Results:

PosnHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Bruce Huber1011171115
2Rory Morrison120221132310
3Alastair Speare‑Cole135411324518
4Oliver Morgan169735412827
5Jonathan Nainby‑Luxmoore15867668429
5Caroline Simonds381051053629
7Mike Issaias1528104157231
8David Peerless14056R791037
9Hugh Doherty124342SSS45
10Simon Birchenough13698914131251
11Andy Christie149129811111451
12Owen Pay160SSS35953
13Matt Solan106SSS96758
14John Birchenough371112118161658
15Olly Laughton‑Scott80SSS10101167
16Anna Row9113131217141769
17Ewan O’Keefe101RSSS16151683

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