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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Illusion National Championship 2024 at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 26 Feb 06:55 GMT 24-25 February 2024

A bit earlier this year for the Nationals than previous years, but as we move towards Easter the tides are not terribly helpful.

However, although not as many entries as the last few years, and sadly no visitors, there were twenty two on Saturday and twenty one on Sunday which made for some close racing. With a forecast F3 SW'erly on Saturday morning it was decided to stay in the harbour; in the event, after a half an hour postponement waiting for a usable breeze to arrive, a shortish course was set up for the SSW'erly F2 that eventually kicked in. Initially on the wet side with showers but as the morning wore on, there was the very occasional glimpse of the sun.

The start of the first race of the day saw Mark Downer misread the line and have to return, mind you it did not hold him back much and it was not long before he was back in his usual dominating position. There was also quite a lot of 'vocal' at the pin end!

Start of Race 1 on Saturday

The initial front runners were Ed Peel and David Russell-Jones, however with the chasing boats splitting tacks and finding more pressure on the left of the course, John Raymond and Mark found themselves rounding the leeward gate almost together. John had a good lead as they came to complete the second round, but then Mark turned his engine on and motored into the lead by the time they reached the windward marks for the final time. There was nothing John could do other than to hold onto second ahead of Jo Downer. Lower down the fleet there were as always a number of very close finishes with the odd curse by the helm who had just missed out!

The breeze increased to around 12 knots for the start of the second race. Tiger Tellwright had a cracking start and was first to reach the windward marks with Rosie Gosling, Oliver Morgan and Olly Laughton-Scott Morgan tucked in behind.

Start of Race 2 on Saturday

Mark and Jo meanwhile found themselves with work to do to catch them and in fact never did and had to be content with sixth and seventh places. On the final round Olly overtook Oliver to finish third. After a short postponement to allow the windward marks to be moved further away, the final race of the day took three attempts and a Black flag to get away.

First Start of Race 3 on Saturday

Second Start of Race 3 on Saturday

Third Start of Race 3 on Saturday

By the time they eventually got away, the breeze had dropped to around 7 knots which made things tricky for most. But not, it appeared, for Mark and Matt Solan who extended their lead on every round and saw them finishing two seconds apart but three minutes ahead of Tiger who finished third ahead of Monty Irwin.

After a pretty uncontentious AGM, a very successful annual dinner was held in the BSC Library - an excellent opportunity for further discussion on the numerous on-water incidents earlier in the day!

Sunday's forecast was not far off what greeted the twenty one Illusionists (John Raymond had other commitments) as they gathered mid-morning for three more races. It was certainly breezer than the previous day (10 - 15 knots SSE'erly) and with luck the rain would hold off until mid-day. Sea Breeze positioned herself to the south of the western end of the mid-harbour pontoons which allowed a good long windward leg. After a short postponement while the pin was re-positioned, the first race got away with no recalls; probably a bit generous by the Race Officer who toyed with a General Recall but decided to let it go as no one was obviously advantaged. Fortunately (for the RO anyway!) the start video failed to record so VAR was not possible!

It came as no great surprise that Mark's grey spinnaker was the first to fly on the down wind run to the leeward gate. Oliver and Tiger were close on his heels with David R-J not far away. As the race unfolded, Tiger moved up into second and for a time looked as if he might be able to knock Mark off his winning streak but it was not to be and by the end of the third round, Mark had established a healthy lead. David R-J was third and Oliver just pipped Owen to take fourth. Having moved Sea Breeze slightly so as to give more water around the pin, the second race got away to an excellent start in the 15 knot breeze. With inches to spare Mark powered into the lead ahead of Tiger, David R-J and Oliver.

Start of Race 2 (5) on Sunday

Rounding the windward marks a few boat lengths ahead it looked as if Mark had the race sewn up, however Tiger kept the pressure up and although he had to be content with second, he put another marker down that once he sorts out his spinnaker work he is going to be a force to be reckoned with. David R-J was a clear third. Oliver was fourth and it was great to see Andy Christie come in sixth.

A noisy leeward gate rounding during Race 5!

The start of the final race of the day was another cracker with half the fleet at least timing their start to perfection.

Start of Race 3 (6) on Sunday

All in all a bit deja vous with Mark and Tiger almost in match racing mode ahead of David R-J. However it was good to see Mike Toogood and Owen Pay as the front runners behind them. On the final beat to the finish at the windward mark (it was a three and a half round race), Mark powered his way to his fifth win of the weekend. Tiger made it three second places for the day and D R-J, three thirds.

An excellent couple of days racing which saw some very close racing mid-fleet:

1st Mark Downer
2nd Tiger Tellwright
3rd David Russell-Jones
1st over 65 - Oliver Morgan
1st Lady and most improved from 2023 - Jo Downer
1st over 75 - David Peerless

Next weekend its afternoon racing for Bills Barrel.

Additional photos:

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

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Mark Downer1641611115
2Tiger Tellwright22151322210
3David Russell‑Jones1552112533326
4Oliver Morgan169641344826
5Jo Downer166371467629
6Ed Peel124107716533
7Owen Pay16013159514537
8Matt Solan106102121161039
9Monty Irwin1479548171642
10Rosie Gosling13082129121343
11Andy Christie14919910135946
12Jonathan Nainby‑Luxmoore1587146129R48
13Olly Laughton‑Scott80531714131449
14Mike Toogood142171911R8459
15David Peerless14012111518101159
16Mike Issaias1521416817111261
17Robin Ebsworth1211172016151271
18John Raymond1512818SSS74
19Richard Ambler15620131619191784
20Hugh Doherty12416201915182088
21Serena Gosling17418222210201989
22Will Lowe15022182120R1596

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