Bembridge Illusions – January Jacket 2020 – 11th & 12th January

Although congratulations of course to Mark Downer, Bruce Huber & Jo Downer who took the podium places in the January Jacket over the weekend, well done to everyone out sailing in the pretty extreme conditions! To read the report on Y&Y on-line click on the link below. Please don’t forget to ‘like’ on the Y&Y page to show your support for their support.

A windy weekend! Indeed an hour or so before the programmed start times in both Saturday & Sunday it had looked dubious whether racing was going to be possible. However after a short postponement on Saturday morning fourteen Illusions launched into the brisk SSW’erly breeze. The first race got away to a clean start – indeed most held back to be on the safe side as gusts of 22 knots came over the Embankment Road.

Start of Race 1 Saturday –

Bruce Huber was first round the windward marks with Mark Downer inevitably not far behind with Jo Downer and David Russell-Jones hot on their heels. The front runners and a few lower down the fleet risked spinnakers, but the majority decided that goose winging their genoas was a safer bet. Bruce and Mark were never far apart for the rest of the three round race but Mark got the break with a favourable wind shift on the beat up from the leeward gate to cross the line first. Jo was a good third and David R-J was fourth.

First run Race 1 Saturday –

The breeze was down to around 15 knots at the start of the second race. Bruce was again first to get his spinnaker pulling on the first run; Mike Toogood as second and Mark was third.

Start of Race 2 Saturday –

Bruce was still ahead as they approached the leeward gate for the second time, but Mark got another favourable wind shift on the third round and took over the lead, but it was certainly close with only a boat length in it at the finish. Jo worked herself up into third ahead of Mike. Mid-fleet David Peerless just pipped David R-J.

With the breeze holding around 15 knots, the third and final race of the day got away to another clean start.

Start of Race 3 Saturday –

For the third time, Bruce rounded the windward marks ahead with Mark & Jo in his wake. David Peerless led the chasing fleet with Mike Toogood, Philip Russell and Olly Laughton-Scott close behind. Jo got a useful wind shift as they were finishing the first round and almost found herself in the lead, but it was not to be and she had to just watch Mark and Bruce battle it out over the next three rounds. Although Mark was well ahead at the end of the third round, Bruce kept up the pressure and having rounded the opposite gate mark to Mark he might well have take overtaken him on the final beat to the finish, but it was not to be. Jo took her third third of the day with Andy Christie fourth.

Although it was a lovely sunny day, conditions in the harbour mid-morning on Sunday were very marginal even for Illusions. It was therefore decided to delay launching for half an hour to see if it settled down; also to see how the BHYC ‘Icebreaker’ dinghies got on! In the event a wise decision as the eleven Illusions were able to pick their way through the carnage as they headed up to the slightly calmer water off Bembridge Outboards!

The first race of the day got away cleanly even though it was gusting 25 knots; Mark & Jo Downer both had excellent starts close to the Committee boat and Mark was the first to round the windward marks.

Start of Race 4 Sunday –

As an indication of the breezy conditions (highest gust was 27 knots), even the experts decided against flying their spinnakers on the runs! Jo and Bruce had a close battle for second & third and it was good to see Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore and John Birchenough not far behind them. Bruce got ahead of Jo during the second round but had to be content with second as Mark was just too far in front for him. In the meantime, Alastair Speare-Cole had closed up on Jo but missed a third by inches.

Although still very breezy (gusting 23 knots), the second race of the day saw another clean start.

Start of Race 5 Sunday –

Having rounded the windward marks in front, Bruce decided to risk flying his spinnaker. Jo who was second at that stage eventually followed suit, as did Mark in third, along with a few lower down the fleet. Despite a few broaches everyone made to the leeward gate safely. Bruce and Mark traded places a number of times as they completed a further two rounds; indeed either could have won. However Mark yet again got the break and finished inches ahead. Jo was third a considerable way ahead of Alastair.

The third and final race followed a similar pattern to the previous one, albeit for four rounds rather than three. Bruce was first to the windward mark with Mark snapping at his heels; they then proceeded to ‘match race’ for the rest of the race with less than a boat length separating them for most of it. Very exciting and despite Mark already having won the weekend’s trophy with five first’s, there was no quarter given!

Run Race 6 Sunday:

Although it was by less than half a boat length, the results show Mark ending with a clean sheet of six wins. Jonathan N-L meanwhile put paid to Jo finishing with six thirds by finishing just ahead of her.

Although the winners (Mark, Bruce and Jo) inevitably get most of the glory, congratulations are also due to all who competed over the weekend is the very breezy conditions.

No racing next weekend, but its the annual Match racing Championships the one after (25th & 26th January).

Additional photos: 
courtesy of Mike Samuelson

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