Please select your home edition
GJW Direct 2024 Dinghy

Bembridge Illusion Valentine Trophy 2023

by Mike Samuelson 13 Feb 2023 12:19 GMT 11-12 February 2023

Nice sailing breezes during the week, but then for the second week running they dropped off for the weekend! However, despite the forecast projecting very light airs on Saturday early afternoon, seventeen enthusiastic sailors rigged up and launched in the hopes of a workable breeze materialising.

After a 15 minute postponement, the Race Officers decided that there were enough zephyrs ghosting down the harbour to make a start. Unusually Mark Downer and David R-J were over the line at the start, however both came back and as the race unfolded, both ended up well up the order. Despite his Illusion looking a bit stern heavy, Owen Pay was first to the windward mark by quite a margin; Mike Toogood lead the chasing fleet of Colin Simonds, Mark and Matt Solan. Progress to the leeward gate was slow but offered some tactical options to find the best pressure. Little change in the order as they went into the second round with Owen holding off Colin who crept up on run having picked up one of the elusive zephyrs. Mark's decision to not fly his spinnaker did not pay off and he had to be content with fourth place after the race was shortened after two rounds.

After quite a long pause while the back markers finished, it was again decided that there was just enough of a breeze to make a second race worthwhile. So the next start sequence was initiated but with the option to AP if the breeze disappeared. In the event, there was just enough to get boats moving off the line. Olly Laughton-Scott found himself the wrong side of the line but was fortunately able to duck back; meanwhile those who were further back found themselves becalmed and took some time to eventually cross the line.

Start of Race 2 Saturday

Jonathan N-L lead around the windward mark but Mark overtook him on the run by keeping well right. Jonathan remained in second until at the leeward gate for the second time where unluckily he and a number of others hit a hole and went nowhere. Clearly the moral was 'if you catch a zephyr you overtake, if you don't you are on a hiding to nothing!'. With the breeze disappearing yet again, the race was finished after two rounds with Justin Biddle ghosting through into second place after rounding the starboard gate. Colin held onto third and Andy Christie, following Justin's example was fourth. Further racing was abandoned and with some judicious paddling everyone headed back to the Club.

As forecast, there was a bit more breeze, albeit from the East/South East, for Sunday's racing. Having decided against racing outside the harbour as there was quite a swell; twenty Illusions made their way gingerly over the sand bank in the middle of the harbour to the start area opposite the eastern end of the Duver Visitors Pontoon. Had it not been a white boat then someone would would have been called over the line at the start of the first race of the day, however they got away with it!

Start of Race 3 on Sunday

Jonathan N-L was first to round the windward mark but with Bruce Huber, Justin and Mike Toogood, only inches away, it was never going to be an easy ride. So with Bruce going like a train in the shifty 7 knot ESE'erly breeze it was not long before he had moved into the lead, leaving Jonathan and Justin to battle it out for second and third. Mid-fleet, Julia and Colin had a very close race with only inches separating them at the end of the third round.

On the Run - Race 3 Sunday

With the clock ticking and another three races to fit in, the second race of the day was started under Flag U and was stopped after 2 rounds. After a good start, Bruce, Caroline and Justin emerged as the front runners, but with Bruce seemingly unstoppable, the other two were more into damage limitation and seeing who was going to come second!

Start Race 4 on Sunday

Another Flag U start to Race 5 saw everyone getting away smoothly.

Start Race 5 on Sunday

After two rounds and with Bruce well ahead again, the S flag was displayed to draw the race to a close with Colin ahead of Caroline and Justin.

With the cold beginning to bite (well certainly for the Race Officers), the final race of the day got away to another excellent start (albeit without Bruce who had a ferry to catch) so it was interesting to see who would lead the fleet on the beat up to the windward mark. In the event, it was Julia who rounded first with Justin and Mark close behind.

Start of Race 6 on Sunday

Julia held her lead for most of the two and a half round race, but Justin just pipped her on the finish line at the windward mark and Mark had to be content with a more distant third. There were, including Justin and Julia, five sets of very close finishes which just highlights yet again the strength of the fleet and the close racing to be had at Bembridge.

Despite his three wins today, Bruce was unable make up for missing yesterday's two races and so finished 8th overall. Justin was the most consistent at the front end of the fleet and so deservedly won the Valentine Trophy 10 points ahead of Colin with Mark in 3rd with 2 points more. Caroline was the first lady and Tim Lyle won the 'encourage les autres' prize.

Bill's 'famous' Barrel next weekend - 10 o'clock starts both days. See you there!

Additional Photos at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Justin Biddle8592224111
2Colin Simonds1652310421421
3Mark Downer164417128323
4Owen Pay16019476725
5Caroline Simonds381256331128
6Mike Toogood1423145671233
7Julia Bailey15710119145237
8Bruce Huber101SS111S47
9Oliver Morgan16913138816547
10Richard Ambler156710131510848
11Olly Laughton‑Scot80158165131051
12Jo Downer166815151312452
13Jonathan N‑Luxmoore1581116310171353
14Andy Christie1491441111141754
15Tim LyleRed1617171615670
16Robin Ebsworth12SS149111571
17Matt Solan10656SSSS77
18David Russell‑Jones15567SSSS79
19John Birchenough3717121817181680
20Crispin Kenyon125SS1919191897
21Will Lowe150SS20202019101

Related Articles

Bembridge Illusion season comes to a close
With the St George's Day Trophy and the Woodford Long Distance Race Not the kindest weather for the final weekend of the Illusion season, however it could have been worse and at least the drizzle on Saturday held off until the finish of the last of the four races for the St George's Day Trophy. Posted on 29 Apr
Bembridge Illusion Designer Trophy 2024
Racing for the drawing of Jo Richards' original concept drawing of the Illusion At the end of the 40th Anniversary dinner in December 2022, Jo Richards, the designer of the Illusion generously presented the Class with a drawing of his original concept for an enlarged single handed model yacht which was foot steered. Posted on 22 Apr
Bembridge Illusion Flying Dutchman Trophy
A challenging weekend thanks to Storm Kathleen Storm Kathleen, early starts and being the weekend after Easter all contributed to lower than normal numbers racing for the Flying Dutchman trophy. Posted on 7 Apr
Bembridge Illusion Vernon's Easter Egg Cup 2024
Battling gale warnings, icy rain and cancelled ferries Gale warnings, icy rain and cancelled ferries on Maundy Thursday was enough to put off some of the hardy Illusion fleet helms from sailing the first day of Vernon's Easter Egg Cup on Good Friday. Posted on 31 Mar
Bembridge Illusion Spring Plate 2024
Fourteen boats rigged up to race on Saturday Fourteen boats rigged up to race on Saturday, however sadly Tim Lyle had a problem with his steering and never left the pontoon but the other thirteen eventually got their acts together and made it to Sea Breeze located to the north of the Redwing Quay. Posted on 25 Mar
Illusion Prince Philip Memorial Trophy 2024
Forecast and early tides kept a number of competitors away First raced for in April 2021 in memory of the late HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, this year's running of the Prince Philip Memorial Trophy disappointingly only saw seven entries competing for the Trophy. Posted on 11 Mar
Bembridge Illusion Bill's Barrel 2024
Almost perfect conditions after a week of rain and strong winds After another three days of rain and strong winds, it was a relief that Saturday afternoon's SW'erly F3 breeze with sunny patches proved to be almost perfect for the fifteen Illusionists who launched ready for this year's 'Bill's Barrel' weekend. Posted on 4 Mar
Illusion Nationals 2024 at Bembridge
An early start to championship season this year! A bit earlier this year for the Nationals than previous years, but as we move towards Easter the tides are not terribly helpful. Posted on 26 Feb
Bembridge Illusion Valentine Trophy
One helm had "transgressed on more than one occasion" After another week of wet and windy conditions, the weather window over the weekend for the Valentine Trophy was certainly a relief. Mind you on Saturday, the main concern was whether there was going to be enough wind to make racing viable. Posted on 11 Feb
Bembridge Illusion Team Racing second event
Saturday deliveres an almost perfect gentle South-South-Westerly breeze After all the storms, sailing conditions on Saturday morning turned out to be almost perfect with a gentle South-South-Westerly breeze. Posted on 29 Jan