Bembridge Illusions – Flying Dutchman Trophy 2022-2023 – 29th & 30th October

Sadly there was no guest appearance by Rudy, our Flying Dutchman, but then its a long way to come from Finland to Bembridge to race for ‘his’ trophy! Prior to heading out to set up the course, there appeared to be a F2-F3 SSW’erly breeze and with nearly all the moored boats ashore for the winter and the mid-harbour pontoons taken in, the decision was taken to race in the harbour. By the time the 21 Illusions had launched the breeze had backed to the SSEast which meant the course length was more limited than most prefer, but re-locating was going to be too time consuming, so racing remained in the harbour.

Despite a nice long line, the first start was not a great success and resulted in a General Recall. The re-start under Flag U went much better with Mark Downer, recently back from his Mediterranean trip, inch perfect at the pin end of the line and Hugh Doherty being given the benefit of doubt!.

Start of Race 1 Saturday –

Re-Start of Race 1 –



Mark led round the windward marks with Julia Bailey, Bruce Huber, Hugh and Colin Simonds a bit behind. On the second beat, Colin then had a senior moment and failed to remember to cross through the line on the way back up to the windward marks. Round 2 saw Mark extend his lead and Bruce move up to second, a similar distance ahead of Julia. At the finish after three Rounds, the order was same and Oliver Morgan was fourth.




The second race started under Flag U again; Philip Russell found himself being ‘pushed’ over so although he continued racing was disqualified. At the pin end the video clip certainly suggests that Bruce and Julia were also over, but as the camera is not actually on the line, they ‘got away’ with it!

Start of Race 2 Saturday –




Having decided that there was better pressure on the right hand side of the course, Mark again was ahead of Bruce round the windward marks, albeit by not very much. Philip Russell was third ahead of Justin Biddle so was obviously disappointed when he was told of his starting disqualification. Julia, Colin, David Peerless and Oliver Morgan formed the next group and had some close racing. With the course length a bit short, it was decided to let the race run for four rounds. Although the only change was Colin finishing ahead of Julia, at least it gave everyone the opportunity to have more time on the water.



Having reset the course after the 10 knot breeze veered 20 degrees or so and with plenty of water still in the harbour should a General Recall be required, the third and final race of the day reverted to Flag P as the preparatory flag. In the event, everyone was very well behaved!

Start of Race 3 Saturday –




Colin was to get his spinnaker flying first having rounded the windward mark in front, however Bruce and Mark were close behind and never let up for the rest of the four round race. David, Justin Biddle, Julia, Hugh and Monty Irwin followed initially reasonably closely behind, however as the race progressed the front three extended their lead and Julia moved up into fourth ahead of Monty and David.




In the bar after racing, James Stratton, on behalf of the Stratton family, and following the death of their Mother Pepe recently, kindly presented the half model of his late father’s Illusion (Illustration) back to the Class Captain, Mark. The half model had been originally presented by the Class to Vernon when he hung up his drysuit as a token of its appreciation for everything that he had done for the Class over so many years.




It was considerably windier on Sunday (SSW F5) and despite the extra hour in bed, launching seemed to take rather a long time; a few from yesterday were not racing but numbers held up and there were 22 boats for the first race of the day. Gusting 22 knots, the first start went to a General Recall. The re-start under Flag U should have gone to another General Recall, however the Race Officers let it go as they were keen to get things going and as can be seen from the video, no-one was particularly advantaged.

Start of Race 4 Sunday –

Re-Start of Race 4 Sunday –


Mark was again first to round the windward mark, with Bruce tucked in close behind. Mike Toogood had a very good race and although never in a position to challenge the front two, he held onto third for the rest of the race. Despite having a problem with her spinnaker and having to use her genoa on the runs, Caroline Simonds was fourth ahead of Oliver and Jo.

The second race of the day was again started under Flag U; although one or two nearly over cooked it, it was an excellent start with the front runners inch perfect – impressive sailing given it was gusting 20 knots!

Start of Race 5 Sunday –


Although it was a Downer spinnaker flying first on the down wind leg, it was in fact Jo who had rounded the windward marks first. Initially chased by David P, Julia and Justin, it was not until mid-way through the second round that her husband Mark and Bruce began their relentless progress to the front of the fleet. Still, definitely a well deserved third.

With rain clouds looming on the horizon, the final race of the day saw Flag U flying again as the preparatory signal. Sadly it caught ‘newbie’ James Row out, but otherwise it was another excellent start.

Start of Race 6 Sunday –


Bruce was first round the top marks with David and Mark not far behind. However as the race progressed, Mark moved up to second and for the next three rounds the two of them traded tacks and matched raced the runs. This left the chasing fleet to get on with deciding who would come third. The answer was Mike Toogood who picked up his second third of the day having finished ahead of David and Julia..

Two testing days of racing; congratulations to Mark who won the Flying Dutchman trophy with five firsts; consitant at ever, Bruce was second with six seconds and David P was third.

Early starts (09:00 both days) for next weekend’s Guy Fawkes Trophy.


Additional photos:

Photos courtesy of Mike Samuelson

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