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Rooster 2023 - Aquafleece - LEADERBOARD

Bembridge Illusion second 2023/24 Team Racing event

by Mike Samuelson 29 Jan 06:34 GMT 27-28 January 2024

After all the storms, sailing conditions on Saturday morning turned out to be almost perfect with a gentle South-South-Westerly breeze.

Although originally programmed for Match Racing, the decision had been made early in the season to go for a second Team Racing weekend instead as most preferred sailing with a team member rather than the one against one format of match racing. The pre-Christmas weekend had been very well supported and in the knowledge that some of the 'experts' were not around, there was some concern that we would not get eight teams entering. In the event, we did albeit only by Tim Lyle kindly switching from helping as an Assistant Umpire to filling in a last minute gap in the BSC 3 team. And it was great to see the RNSA put a team in after a gap of many years.

No surprises in the first flight with BSC 1 (Mark Downer & Monty Irwin) and ASA (David Peerless & Andy Snell) both well ahead of their opponents and demonstrating that they were going to be the teams to beat. BSC 2 (Mike Toogood & Olly Laughton-Scott) lost out to the RNSA team (Kerei Harris & Sid Wareham) after Olly was disqualified after he had 'senior moment' and rounded one of marks incorrectly. The second flight saw first and second places taken by BSC 2, ASA, STHSC (St Thomas Hospital SC - David Russell-Jones & Matt Solan) and BSC 1. In the third flight, BSC 1 had a narrow win over RORC (Mike Issaias & Hugh Doherty) as did ASA against BSC 2. In the fourth flight, BSC 1 took second and third against ASA, as did RNSA against RORC. Flight five saw BSC 1 maintain their unbeaten record by narrowly beating RYS (Alastair Speare-Cole & Charlie Egerton-Warburton. In Flight six, STHSC took the middle two places to beat BSC 2, as did RNSA who defeated RYS. Flight seven saw BSC 1 notch up their seventh win by beating BSC 2, and ASA beat STHSC to finish with six wins.

With plenty of water and wanting to allow time on Sunday morning for the best of five finals after another round robin, it was decided to keep going and to try to get two flights of Sunday's repeat matches completed. In the first flight, BSC 3 made up for their defeat by STHSC in the first round, and RNSA took a point off BSC 2 after Mike Toogood had had to retire with steering problems. In the final flight RYS got their own back on STHSC, otherwise the results mirrored the first round robin.

Saturday - 'rounding the leeward mark'

Saturday - ASA beating BSC 2

Saturday - 'getting busy'

Saturday - 'great conditions for team racing'

Disappointingly the forecast F3 Southerly for Sunday morning failed to materialise, however with Chimet showing a F4 SSEasterly, it was decided to launch and patiently wait for the breeze to arrive. The first three quarters of an hour were particularly annoying with the light breeze appearing to go round in circles.

Undaunted, the Race Officer, Colin Samuelson jumped into one of the Umpire RIBs and headed out of the harbour to see if there was enough of a breeze for any meaningful team racing. His answer was that there was a reasonably steady F3 SE'erly and that everyone should lift and shift to just outside the harbour so that the first of the five remaining flights of the second round robin could be started.

In the first match, BSC 1 had their work cut out after Monty was well off the line at the start, however team mate Mark weaved his magic and slowed the RORC team down enough for Monty finish first so as the secure another win. BSC 3 had a surprise win over RYS. In the second flight of the day, conditions got trickier with the swell increasing and the breeze dropping a few knots. The first match saw ASA v BSC 1 with ASA winning convincingly after Mark got stuck in a windless hole. BSC 3 got their own back against STHSC by taking first and third; as did BSC 2 against RYS. In the third flight of the day, the surprise result was RNSA beating ASA, albeit only just!

Sunday - 'roly poly'

Sunday - ASA v RNSA

With the fickle breeze making it questionable whether it was going to be possible to complete the last two flights, the windward marks where brought in closer and everyone held their breath. In the event the results in the sixth flight mirrored the previous day. However in the seventh and final flight, there were some interesting results. STHSC beating ASA after David P had to take a penalty just prior to the start and then failed to cross the line - mind you he was well behind at the finish so it made no difference! RORC reversed their previous day's result against RYS, as did RNSA in their match against BSC 3.

Sunday ASA v BSC 2

Sunday - Busy at the leeward mark

Sunday - A log jam at the leeward mark

With the tide rushing out and the breeze continuing to come and go, the decision was made to call it a day and head back into the harbour. Not the easiest of tasks and only achieved with the help of the umpire RIBs providing tows. Even then, craning the last half a dozen Illusions out of the water was not for the feint hearted due to the paucity of water.

The clear winner of the cumulative round robins was BSC 1 (Mark Downer & Monty Irwin) with thirteen wins, and a clear runner up, ASA (David Peerless & Andy Snell) with eleven wins. STHSC (David Russell-Jones & Matt Solan) were third with nine wins and RNSA (Keri Harris & Sid Wareham) were fourth with eight wins.

As always an enormous vote of thanks to the umpires (Tricia Neri, Bill Wyatt, Andy Steward & Jeremy Spencer-Cooper supported by Hilary Martin) and the Race Team onboard Sea Breeze (Colin Samuelson, Mike Samuelson, Robin Ebsworth, Jos Coad & Rob Mathieson).

Additional photos at flic.kr/s/aHBqjBc8oQ

No racing next weekend and the Valentine Trophy the following one (10th & 11th February).

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