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Bembridge Illusion Fleet Racing in lieu of Team Racing

by Mike Samuelson 8 Jan 21:11 GMT 7-8 January 2023

Firstly of course, a very happy New Year! Disappointingly the weather put paid to this year's Team Racing weekend that was programmed to start off 2023 with a flurry of activity.

Saturday's forecast was suggesting 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots and Sunday was not that much better. Having binned racing on Saturday but ever hopeful it might be possible to squeeze the traditional two day event into one day, it became clear as the hours passed that this was never going to happen; team racing in 20+ knots is neither very productive or safe. The decision was therefore taken to re-schedule the event to another weekend but to offer some fleet racing on Sunday morning instead.

Undoubtedly a wise decision as conditions turned out to be definitely not suitable for team racing. However, six boats launched and proved yet again what amazing little boats the Illusions are. The start of the first (of four races) got under way cleanly in the 22 - 25 knot southerly breeze.

Start of Race 1

Slightly unexpectedly, given Mark Downer's vast experience in windy conditions, the first to round the windward mark by at least 4 boat lengths was in fact his wife Jo! There was little to separate next three, Mark, David Peerless and David Russell-Jones and with Mark the only one risking a spinnaker he rounded the leeward gate just ahead of the other two. Although the distance between them had reduced by the time they crossed the finish line after two rounds, Jo managed to hang on and finished first a couple of boat lengths ahead. David P was third and R-J ended up in fifth having taken on a lot of water during the second beat.

Although still gusting 22 knots, the breeze was slightly kinder at the start of the second race.

Start of Race 2

Jo was again first to reach the windward mark ahead of Mark and David P and as she had done in the first race she managed to hold onto the lead to finish ahead of David P who had overtaken Mark on the second round.

As they lined up for the start of the third race, the breeze got back up and peaked at 27 knots!

Pre-Start of Race 3

Undaunted however, all six boats crossed the start line in reasonable order, albeit David P circled back as he took a penalty.

Start of Race 3

Mark was ahead at the top end of the course but Jo was not far behind; there was then quite a large gap to Mike Issaias, David P, John Birchenough and David R-J. The second round saw no change in the order. The fourth and final race followed a very similar pattern with Mark and Jo well ahead of third and fourth placed David P and Mike.

Start of Race 4

Well done to Jo who beat her husband Mark to take the overall victory; just a pity that there was no prize!! David P was third.

The next Regatta is for the Bailey Bowl over the weekend of 21st & 22nd January. After that the 4th & 5th February are programmed for the Invitation Match Racing Championships, however current plans are to now use the Saturday for Team Racing and the Sunday for Match Racing. Watch this space!

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4Pts
1Jo Downer16611224
2Mark Downer16423114
3David Peerless14032438
4Mike Issaias152443411
5David Russell‑Jones155556515
6John Birchenough37665617

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