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Illusion 2023 National Championship at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 13 Mar 2023 06:55 GMT 11-12 March 2023

Although the rugby, holidays, birthday lunches, illness and injury reduced the numbers sailing over last weekend's National Championship, to have twenty-six boats out each day was testament to the resilience of the Bembridge Illusion fleet. And going into the final race on Sunday of the six race series with the top three helms all on the same points, reflects the quality the racing particularly given the quite tricky wind conditions.

Although tempted to set the course up just outside the harbour to give the twenty six boat fleet a bit more room, a quick check on the sea conditions dispelled the idea and racing stayed in the harbour. The first race (after a 20 minute postponement to allow everyone to reach the start area) did not get off very well and there was a General recall. The re-start under Flag U saw one of the top favourites, Bruce Huber, cross the line too early which under Flag U meant he was disqualified.

Start of Race 1 Saturday

Re-start of Race 1 Saturday

Although it was not that long a beat, last year's Champion, Jack Grogan was well ahead of the rest of the fleet at the windward marks; over dinner on Saturday evening he revealed that he had spent at least 10 minutes before the start studying the wind patterns! Ed Peel was not that far behind but there was then quite a gap to David Peerless and Graham Sunderland. Ed played a blinder on the second round and took over the lead which he held onto for the rest of the 3 round race. As always there were a number of close finishes throughout the fleet.

Run on Race 1 Saturday

Although the breeze continued to misbehave and was flicking at times 20 degrees, there was nothing the race officers could do other than to crack on; it was after all, the same for everyone! The second race, started again under Flag U got away first time.

Start of Race 2 Saturday

Bruce, making up for being DSQ in the first race, dominated the race and was soon well ahead of the chasing fleet led by Mike Toogood. With the breeze dropping to 7 knots and the fleet pretty spread out (except for George Downer and Graham who tied for 3rd place) it was decided to finish after 2 rounds.

The start of the third race saw the Black flag deployed after a General recall under Flag U!

Start of Race 3 Saturday

Re-start Race 3 Saturday

Mike T was first round the windward mark closely followed by Nigel Grogan, his son Jack, Bruce, Ed and Owen Pay. However on the second round Bruce moved into the lead and was well ahead at the finish at the windward mark after three and a half rounds. Owen took second ahead of Jack and Graham.

After a fairly painless AGM prior to a fun dinner in the Library at BSC on Saturday evening (a big thank you to Rosie Gosling for organising), sailors had the morning to get over the headaches before heading down for the final three races of the Championships. With Mark Downer feeling under the weather on Saturday and not racing, and his wife Jo Downer not feeling very bright on Sunday, it was left to George to uphold the Downer name! As forecast, there was considerably more wind but at least as it was from the South West so it was not quite as fickle as the day before. The first race of the day saw another General recall.

Start of Race 4 Sunday

Re-start of Race 4 Sunday

Graham was first round the windward marks hotly pursued by Julia Bailey, Justin Biddle, Jack and Bruce. With the breeze gusting up to 22 knots boat control on the run to the leeward gate was certainly challenging!

On the run Race 4 Sunday

On the run Race 4 Sunday

Graham held onto the lead and Bruce just pipped Jack with Julia, Justin and Tiger close behind.

The second race of the day started in 17 knots, again under Flag U. There was little between the front three, Jack, Graham and George, but Graham held his nerve and came in ahead. Ed and Bruce were neck and neck and finished inches apart.

Start Race 5 Sunday

On the run Race 5 Sunday

At the other end of the fleet, Tony Burton and Tim Lyle tied. Just before the start of the second round David Peerless and Matt Solan's masts clashed and David took an involuntary 360 turn and filled up!

140 & 106 tangle Race 5 Sunday

As they came into the final race, the top three were on equal points so it was very much 'all to play for'. Unfortunately Ed pulled the trigger just too early and shot across the line a second before the start so fell foul of the Flag U rules.

Start Race 6 Sunday

Initially there was little between Bruce, Jack, George and Graham at the front of the fleet, but as the race progressed Bruce looked to be in control, and although one slip would have cost him dear, his boat control was too good and he came in safely ahead of Jack and Graham. David Russell-Jones was fourth and George was fifth.

On the run Race 6 on Sunday

A hard fought Championships sailed in some pretty tricky conditions. Congratulations to Bruce who finished first 2 points ahead of Graham who beat Jack on a tie break. Jack was the first visitor; Julia the first lady and first over 65 helm helm; David P was the first over 75, Tiger the first under 25 and Mike T the most improved from the 2022 Championships.

No racing next week; it is the Spring Plate the weekend after.

Additional photos -

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Illusion nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Bruce Huber101D1125110
2Graham Sunderland2143411312
2Jack Grogan8729332212
4Ed Peel16117294D23
5George Downer164103673524
6Julia Bailey147516549629
7Mike Toogood142112968934
8Tiger Tellwright675612510R38
9Nigel Grogan168888R61141
10David Russell‑Jones15519107147442
11Owen Pay16019141616121052
12David Peerless1403151413R853
13Oliver Morgan1691213108201255
14Mike Issaias1527161512171767
15Rosie Gosling1301751815131868
16Matt Solan10613121911211469
17Jonathan Nainby‑Luxmoore1589171718161574
18Olly Laughton‑Scott8020222517141386
18Justin Biddle67SSS1011786
20Alastair Speare‑Cole13516212120151688
21Jo Downer166141111SSS94
22Tim Lyle163242313192421100
23Robin Ebsworth12222024212220105
23John Birchenough37212520231922105
25Tony BurtonR232422242323115
25Sam Christie149151923SSS115
27Richard Ambler156SSS221819117
28Will Lowe150252626252524125

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