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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Bembridge Illusion 40th Anniversary Regatta

by Mike Samuelson 12 Dec 2022 06:17 GMT 10-11 December 2022

With the Illusions first starting to race at Bembridge over the winter of 1982-83, it was too good an opportunity not to include to include a 40th Anniversary Regatta in this winter's programme.

Once they had scraped the ice off their boats, twenty one 'Illusionists' made their way out of the harbour on Saturday morning in the hopes that the variable W/WNW breeze would be more stable than remaining in the harbour. Although this turned out to probably be the case, it was still a bit hit and miss.

After a lengthy postponement (too much nattering before launching and not a lot of breeze), the first race surprisingly got away to a clean start given that the pin was smack into the sun!

Start of Race 1 Saturday:

Although the majority stayed on a long starboard tack, a few took a gamble to tacked onto port soon after the start. David Peerless was first round the windward mark and looked to be so far ahead of Ed Peel and Mark Downer that a win was assured, however by the time he crossed the line to finish the first round, Ed and Mark had reeled him in. With the breeze veering over 20 degrees, the course was adjusted as the race progressed to provide better racing. As they went into the third round, the front three were well ahead of the chasing fleet, lead by Rory Morrison, Justin Biddle and Jo Downer. Despite Ed's best efforts to hold him off, Mark found the better breeze towards the end of the race and finished twenty seconds or so ahead.

After a further re-set of the course as the breeze veered even further to the NW, the start of the second race was a bit touch and go as to whether it was a General Recall. In the event it was decided to stick with X-Flag with at least four boats having to extract themselves from the melee and return to the pre-start side of the line.

Start of Race 2 Saturday:

David Russell-Jones, Raymond Simonds, Rory and Mark were the first to round the windward marks but by the time they had reached the leeward gate, Raymond had pulled out in front leaving Rory and Mark to battle it out for second and third. With the breeze becoming increasing fickle, it was decided to finish the race after just two rounds; indeed the second half of the fleet were finished as they drifted through the line on the run.

Although the breeze re-appeared briefly, the decision was made to use it to get boats back into the harbour rather than struggling with a third race. A good decision and although setting up a new course in the harbour was considered, it was soon dismissed as boats headed back to the cranes!

Saturday evening's Anniversary dinner at Bembridge SC provided the ideal opportunity to find out more about the 'birth' of the Illusion class from designer and Olympic bronze medallist Jo Richards and one of the first owners, John Cleave.

Out of the window went any direct connection to the boat being a 12 foot scaled version of the British 12 Metre Class yacht 'Lionheart' that would offer match racing practice for the crew of the America's Cup challenger in the early 1980's. In truth, Jo said it was more about designing an upscaled model yacht and that the production timing was purely coincidental (albeit it turned out to be good for sales) with the America's Cup challenges. Well there you go!

Not quite so many for Sunday morning's racing in what turned out to be quite challenging cold and wet conditions. Initially it was hoped to race in the harbour, however, there really wasn't enough wind so it was decided to head back out of the harbour to see if the E/NE breeze would offer reasonable racing. Certainly the right decision even if it got a bit lumpy at times and the breeze varied in both strength and direction!

After a competitive start to the first race (sorry no video) that saw Ed Peel having to circle back at the pin end, the leaders at the windward mark were Owen Pay, Raymond Simonds, David Peerless, Oliver Morgan, Justin Biddle and Olly Laughton-Scott. By the start of the second round, Raymond had moved into the lead ahead of Owen and Olly. In fourth and fifth, Ed and Mark were separated by inches.

Jo Downer and David P were both well over at the start of the fourth race and took a bit of time to extract themselves and return to the pre-start side of the line.

Start of Race 4 on Sunday:

Ed established an early lead but with Justin, Mike Toogood, Oliver and Raymond not too far behind, it was by no means a walk over. After another mediocre start, Mark was in catch up mode but as so often happens, by the end of the second run, he had moved up into second ahead of Oliver.

Although still cold, at least it had stopped raining by the start of the fifth race. Starting under Flag U worked well and kept everyone back from the line; that said it was by only inches in some cases!

Start of Race 5 on Sunday:

Ed's grey spinnaker was the first to fly on the run to the leeward gate; but with Justin, Mark, Raymond, David and Oliver keeping the pressure up, it was certainly not a procession. Indeed on the second round Mark and Raymond moved into the lead leaving Ed to come third ahead of Justin.

Although most were feeling on the chilly side (not least the Race Officers and RIB driver), the remaining seventeen helms hung on for a fourth and final race of the day. Started again under Flag U, Mark was inch perfect at the pin and was soon out in front; initially it looked as if it was going to be another Mark and Raymond 'match race' but Justin and Ed put a spanner in the works to finish second and third. As usual some very close finishes lower down in the fleet.

Start of Race 6 on Sunday:

A one-off Regatta so although at the moment there are no plans to repeat for at least another five, possibly ten years, it was a fitting tribute to Jo Richard's brilliant design. The top three (Mark, Raymond and Ed) took home more glassware but as a new initiative Oliver was also awarded a glass as the most improved helm.

No racing next weekend as the tides are wrong; the next Regatta (Christmas Cracker) is on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th December. Hope you can make it!

Finally, a plug for teams for the Team Racing weekend (7th & 8th January 2023). Please contact Raymond as soon as possible to book in.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Mark Downer1641352118
2Raymond Simonds165131142412
3Ed Peel16127413313
4Justin Biddle8565774224
5David Peerless140317695528
6Owen Pay1601162128431
7Oliver Morgan169898361334
8Olly Laughton‑Scott8014123149745
9Robin Ebsworth1218816512950
10Matt Solan106710131714650
11Mike Toogood1421713116101050
12Rosie Gosling130121115871250
13Andy Christie1491516101115859
14Monty Irwin147915121013R59
15John Birchenough3719141416161171
16Mike Issaias15216201815111474
17Rory Morrison12042SSSS78
18Jo Downer1665199RSS81
19David Russell‑Jones155104SSSS86
20Ashley McLucas144SS1918171593
21Will Lowe150SS2019181697
22Crispin Kenyon1252018SSSS110
23Nick Rowton‑Lee732121SSSS114

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