A busy Saturday at Bembridge SC which was hosting the annual Mountbatten Hospice Christmas Fare, so the fourteen Illusionists racing for the Bailey Bowl had to be flexible around the edges.

As forecast, a faint NW breeze was pushing a little mist over the harbour on Saturday morning, but the visibility was fine for the fleet to race outside the harbour. The wind never exceeded 10 knots and it flicked between 300º & 340º, so the windward mark was relaid 3 times before the first race got away. Bruce Huber chose the right hand side of the beat, found a little extra wind pressure, and had a lead of 50m by the first windward mark. Mark Downer lying second closed in on the run, but Bruce had another excellent beat and came home a clear winner. Mike Issaias was third. As this two round race had taken 30 minutes, the second race was kept to a single round. Mark had a middling start, but soon worked his way into the lead and won the race from Mike and Oliver Morgan. The third race was another single rounder, albeit with a second beat extended to a finish at the windward mark. Bruce and Mark were both in the hunt, bur Owen Pay came home a deserved winner, and in the dying wind led the long paddle back into the harbour. Tiger Tellright was third, finishing inches ahead of Mark and Mike.

The forecast for Sunday looked wet; and was pretty accurate! Although programmed for a 13:00 start, the paucity of water in the middle of the harbour meant that the first race of the day did not get away until 13:30. Quite heavy rain and 16 knots from the SSW, made for an interesting start:

Start of 1st race on Sunday – https://youtu.be/tZ8zf9WaT1o

Although Mike Toogood was close to being OCS, he just managed to keep the right side of the line and was ahead at the windward mark. Mark and Mike Issaias were close hehind and it was great to see Robin Ebsworth up in the lead group. As the 3 round race unfolded, Mike T remained ahead (just) but could not hold off Mark’s relentless pressure and in the last round saw Julia Bailey, Monty Irwin and Tiger overtake him.

The start of the second race saw too many boats over cooking it, so there was a General Recall. The re-start was under Flag U which had the desired effect, mind you helped by the fact that the breeze had dropped off to under 5 knots.

Start of 2nd race on Sunday (General Recall) – https://youtu.be/pxb89nZfbuA

Re-Start of the 2nd Race on Sunday (Flag U) – https://youtu.be/hPqmumXC3ZI

Owen Pay was first round the windward marks with Tiger and Tim Lyle close behind. As the fleet tried their best to find the illusive breeze (which at times was shifting 40 degrees), Mark started his rentless charge and moved up behind Tiger and on the final leg to the line from the leeward gate moved into a slender lead. Owen was third and Jo Downer was fourth. Lower down, Mike T and Richard Ambler tied in 13th place.

With the rain holding off and the breeze back to roughly where it had been an hour before, the start of the third and final race of the day was a good one.

Start of the 3rd race on Sunday (Flag U) – https://youtu.be/ACE0oLsOifM

Mike T again led the way to the windward marks with Mark and Alastair Speare-Cole just in his wake. As the four round race progressed Mark motored into an unbeatable lead to win his third race of the day. Initially Mike held onto second but in the last round Alastair and Tiger overtook him. As always some close racing lower down the fleet and although there was subsequently some doubt in the bar whether it was a four or five round race, everyone enjoyed the quite varied conditions.

Overall this meant that Mark’s name joins the other 12 winners of the Bailey Bowl; Tiger was second and Mike I was third.

No racing next weekend, but then its the annual team racing Championships the one after (16th & 17th December.)”

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