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Bembridge Illusion Christmas Cracker 2022

by Mike Samuelson 25 Dec 2022 07:12 GMT 23-24 December 2022

Strong SW'erly winds and rain were forecast for the first day (Friday) of this year's Christmas Cracker and indeed this was exactly what the weather God's delivered!

So, although the Race Officers and a hard core of five turned on Friday morning, it was decided to cancel racing and head to the bar for coffee!! Hopefully better conditions tomorrow which will allow us to get four races in.

Saturday morning was grey and overcast and rather than too much wind, initially there was nothing at all and certainly no sign of the 10-15 knot breeze that had been forecast. However, there was lots of enthusiasm to get launched in the hopes the breeze would kick in. After a short postponement, the first race got away to a clean start as the Southerly breeze began to settle at around 10 knots and the sun tried its hardest to break through the grey clouds.

Start of Race 1 Saturday

First, by a considerable margin, to reach the windward mark was Bruce Huber who then simply motored ahead of the rest of the rest of the fleet and was miles ahead by the end of the three round race. Second was Mark Downer who worked himself well ahead of Alastair Speare-Cole. It was good to see Will Toogood finishing sixth, inches ahead of Jo Downer. After an incident involving Mike Toogood in the early part of the race, David Peerless retired to avoid being protested.

With ten seconds to go to the start, it looked as if the second race it was going to require a General Recall, however with seconds to go everyone made it back to the pre-start side of the line (just!).

Start of Race 2 Saturday

Bruce was again first round the windward marks with Alastair and Mark not far behind, however as he did in the first race, he appeared to be going a knot faster than everyone else and was not going to be reeled in even by Mark who had moved into second. However, on the second run, no green spinnaker appeared and it began to look as if Mark might catch him; but during the next beat to the windward mark, Bruce managed to re-rig his spinnaker and hold onto his lead. Mid-fleet saw some very close racing with David, Rosie Gosling and Mike all finishing within inches of each other.

The third race saw Bruce, Mark and a couple of others at the pin end of the line called OCS and having to return; albeit being close to the pin end, they were able to double back relatively easily.

Start of Race 3 Saturday

Mike and David were the first round the windward marks with Bruce and Mark some way back. David was ahead as they crossed the line to complete the first round, but as the race progressed, Bruce stepped up the pressure and by the finish after three rounds was again well ahead of the rest. David managed to hold off Mark and Owen Pay picked up his second consecutive fourth place finishing just ahead of Jo Downer and Mike. Rosie and Will tied in ninth place.

With the bar beckoning, the fourth and final race of the day was started under Flag U. Mind you as you can see on the video, there were still a number of boats very close to the line at the start!

Start of Race 4 Saturday

Just to show that his previous three wins were down to tactics and boat speed and not luck, Bruce was yet again first round the windward marks; Owen was second ahead of Mark, Mike and Will. While they could do nothing to stop Bruce picking up his fourth win, there was some keen racing between Owen & Mark, and Will and his father Mike.

With four races allowing a discard, the overall winner of this year's Christmas Cracker was of course Bruce with Mark second and Owen third. Alastair was fourth and David fifth. John Birchenough was awarded a prize for tenacity and as thanks for all his efforts in making sure the loan Illusion 'Illustration', was always in good order.

Looking forward to seeing everyone next Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon for the last Regatta of 2022 - the Icebreaker.

Additional Photos at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4Pts
1Bruce Huber10111113
2Mark Downer16422326
3Owen Pay160544311
4Alastair Speare‑Cole135338612
5David Peerless140R52916
6Rosie Gosling130469818
8Will Toogood147699419
9Jo Downer166785719
10Olly Laughton‑Scott8081071025
11Andy Christie1491011111132
12John Birchenough371112121235
13Will Lowe150S13131339

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