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Bembridge SC Keelboat Racing - 31st July to 6th August 2023

by Mike Samuelson 7 Aug 06:27 BST 31 July - 6 August 2023
Redwing start at Cowes Week © Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore

Sadly the unseasonal weather put the scuppers on a full Cowes Week and local racing, so it was even more important to make the most of the days that were sailable.

Monday (31st July) the Race Officer reported that although he was there at at 09:00, no one else had appeared by 09:10 so it was another N over A! At Cowes the top three were Enigma, Harlequin & Red Gauntlet II.

Tuesday (1st August) was slightly better and five boats had two challenging but enjoyable races. Planned to keep clear of the Merlin Rocket National Championship fleet race area the first race started at Undertyne with the windward mark as Pepe (to starboard) then to Britten and a finish at Drum. Peter Summerhays helming No 1 was first round Pepe a couple of boat lengths ahead of Jos Coad in No 8 and D Orange in No 9. However on the beat from Britten to Drum, D chose the right way to go and finished five seconds ahead of Peter with Charles Abel Smith in No 7 not far behind. Indeed all five boats finished within thirty five seconds. For the second race the windward mark was a laid inflatable inshore of Drum; after a circuit to Britten and back to the inflatable, they headed back to Undertyne via Pepe and Tara. Although Jos and now Mark Grzegorczyk helming No 9 were close together on the run to Tara, Mark chose the best way to get back to Undertyne and finished just under a minute ahead. John Suffield in No 4 was third. At Cowes it was another win for Enigma with Harlequin second and Rosetta third.

Wednesday (2nd August) was another write-off day both at Cowes and Bembridge.

No racing at Bembridge on Thursday (3rd August); instead the One-Designs went on a cruise followed by a picnic in Priory Bay. Set a route that included going through the 'Main Passage' through the submarine barrier between Horse Sand Fort and Southsea Beach, No 9 was apparently the only boat to find it successfully, but no one was too fussed as they all knew where Priory Bay was! Joined by a flotilla of Scows and a number of the Motor Boat section, a jolly time was had by all. At Cowes, the top three Redwings were Harlequin, Enigma and Capella II.

Two good races for the four One-Designs out on Friday afternoon. In the first race (started at Undertyne with Drum as the windward mark and Tara as the leeward mark) Jos Coad in No 8 spotted the advantage at the pin end and stole a march on the other three boats. Well ahead at Drum, No 8 was not for catching, however second and third were keenly contested with No 9 helmed single-handed by Mark Grzegorczyk coming good on the final beat back from Tara. Susie Beart in No 5 was third.

The second race was slightly shorter with the windward mark changed to Nainby. Mark in No 9 tried a port tack start at the pin but had to duck at least two of the other boats. No 5 and No 8 (now helmed by Helen Mathieson) headed inshore while No 4 (John Suffield) and No 9 tacked offshore. At Nainby, there was little in it but as they passed Undertyne on the way to Tara, No 8 was just ahead of No5 with No 9 & No 4 close behind. On the final beat, Mark and Helen kept offshore which paid off and saw the finishing order as No 9, No 8, No 4 and No 5.

At Cowes, it was another win for Enigma, with Lady Laetitia in second and Quail third. This meant that the Downer family in Enigma was not only the overall winner of the Redwing Class, but also the winner of White Group and to round it off the overall winner of Cowes Week 2023. Brilliant.

With all the Redwings back safely from Cowes on Friday afternoon, they had a well earned lay day on Saturday. With only one and a half One-Designs showing any interest (it seems that Barbie and Oppenheimer took priority!), N over A was raised at 13:40.

A busy afternoon on Sunday (6th August) with two races for both the Redwings and One-Designs, and pressure to get back for the Club AGM at17:00! The first Redwing race was for the Norman Phillips Trophy for Under 19 helms, and the second was for the Chetwood Trophy for Under 30 helms. Four boats qualified for the former (Paroquet - Patrick Clegg; Blue Jay II - Henry Landon; Lady Laetitia - Annie Clegg & Plover - Alice Clegg) and made an excellent start from an Inflatable set to the North of Undertyne; the ensuing beat to Drum, followed by a run to Tara via Undertyne and a final beat back to the line was a good test for the young helms. After some close racing, Lady Laetitia crossed the line ahead of Plover with Blue Jay II third. Following a very quick turn around, eleven boats (a record perhaps?) then started off on the same course except that the finish was extended to Footprint. After another excellent start, the fleet split tacks and had a challenging leg to Drum with the breeze picking up to 17 knots.

Start of the Chetwood Trophy

Enigma, helmed by Alex Downer was first round but Harlequin, helmed by Rosie Blackburn and Blue Jay II, helmed again by Henry Landon, were not far behind. Nor indeed where most of the remaining boats. Rounding the leeward mark (Tara) was certainly interesting for some and the beat to Footprint again saw the fleet split tacks. Alex, as to be expected after the Downer family success at Cowes, could not be caught and finished 25 seconds ahead of Rosie with Arabella Wilson in Quail 10 seconds later.

Eight One-Designs meanwhile started five minutes after the first Redwing race and followed the same course with similar challenges on the beat to Drum. No 5 (Charles Perry) over cooked it and having to return. Most tacked onto port after the start and headed offshore. After some close racing, it was No 6 helmed by Jos Coad who finished first some 25 seconds ahead of Sarah Marshall in No 7 with Mark Grzegorczyk in No 9 a similar time behind in third. Two boats (No 3 (Stephan Ludwig) & No 8 (Alexander Ross) decided against a second race; the remainder headed off to Drum again after an interesting start with No 9 tacking a penalty after an incident at the pin end of the line as they tried a port tack flyer.

Start of Race 2

Using similar tactics as the previous race, all six were pretty close as they started the run to Undertyne which, after a course change, became the leeward mark. The beat back to Footprint proved quite challenging with Mark in No 9 finishing 10 seconds ahead of Charles in No 5. Russ Fowler in No 1 was third. This meant that Mark in No 9 won the Brinton Cup.

Additional Photos:

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