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With another windy weekend forecast, it was always going to be touch and go as to whether the planned Bembridge Illusion National Championships were going to be possible. In the event, we were able to get 4 races completed on Saturday so we got a result even though racing on Sunday was simply not viable.

On Saturday, a 20+ knot West/SouthWesterly breeze and an incoming tide meant that conditions in the harbour did not look too promising as the launch time for the thirty two boats entered (the most for many years) neared. It was therefore decided to go for a half hour postponement to allow the tide to slacken off. This proved to be a wise decision and although two boats either did not launch or turned back before they reached the start area, the rest made it for the start of the first race.

With so many boats, the line was obviously considerably longer than normal and with the sun reflecting off the water, spotting the outer limit was not easy, particularly as most of the hot shots were down at the pin end. However with the breeze gusting 22 knots, the first race got away to a clean start.

Youtube Start of Race 1

The fleet then split tacks quite quickly as they tacked up to the windward mark. First round was Mark Downer with Raymond Simonds & Bruce Huber close behind.

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As the race developed Mark was able to extend his lead while Raymond & Bruce battled it out for second place. With visitor Jack Grogan ready to pounce if they made a mistake, on the second round he managed to get ahead of Raymond to take third place. As to be expected with such a large fleet and relatively confined race area, there were a number of close finished lower down in the fleet.

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Justin Biddle had a bit of bad luck and to retire early in the race when his mast started causing problems; despite best efforts to repair, it proved too difficult so he had to call it a day.

With the pin end favoured again for the start of the second race and too many boats pushing their luck as the breeze increased to 25 knots, the Race Officers had no option other than to go for a General Recall.

Youtube First Start of Race 2

The second start, under Flag U was considerably better disciplined and everyone held back.

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Youtube Second Start of Race 2

Mark Downer was again first to reach the windward mark with Graham Sunderland, Graham Bailey & Raymond Simonds not far behind. Unfortunately Bruce Huber had to retire after an incident to resulted in his traveller pulling out. Despite best efforts by the chasing fleet, Mark crossed the finish line after two rounds well ahead again. Graham Sunderland was second, Julia Bailey was third and Simon Childs, a visitor from Middle Nene, was fourth ahead of Graham Bailey.9Mar19 - gs_mdr4(1)

The third race was again started under Flag U which caught Graham Sunderland out when he forgot to keep clear of the ‘penalty area’ during the minute before the start. As the start went ahead without a General Recall this meant that he was disqualified which was obviously a pity (for him anyway!) as he led for most of the second part of the race. Sadly for Bruce Huber his temporary repair failed prior to the start so he had to return back ashore.

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Youtube Start of Race 3

Jack Grogan was first to the windward mark with Simon Cooper and Mark Downer in hot pursuit. At the leeward gate Graham had taken the lead with Mark & Raymond Simonds close behind, but at the finish, again after two rounds, it was Mark, Graham (who of course did not count), Jack, Raymond & Julia.

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With Sunday’s forecast in the back of their minds, the Race Officers decided to go for a fourth race so as to allow for a discard if there was no racing the following day. Again started under Flag U, Jack Grogan just over cooked it at the pin end so was disqualified.

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Youtube Start of Race 4

In the event, half way up the first beat he had an ‘incident’ with his father Nigel and retired! Meanwhile, Graham Sunderland led the fleet at the windward mark and although pressed hard throughout the rest of the race by Mark Downer, he held his nerve and crossed the finish line just ahead. Raymond Simonds was third, Graham Bailey was fourth and Jo Downer was fifth. Lower down the fleet there were some very close finishes with Julia Bailey just holding off Steve Warren-Smith & Andy Christie and Hugh Doherty just coming in ahead of Bill Daniels.

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It was a full house on Saturday evening for the annual Illusion Dinner that was held in the Library at BSC; as always a great success and big thanks to Serena Gosling who had organised it so well.

Sunday’s forecast was pretty spot on and with Chimet showing Gale Force 8 SW’erly, conditions in the harbour an hour before the scheduled start time (12:30) were such that the Race Officers had no option other to cancel racing. Obviously a pity but with four races completed the previous day, it was undoubtedly the right decision.

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Congratulations to the winner – Mark Downer; the runner-up – Graham Sunderland and third place – Raymond Simonds. The full list of prize winners is as follows:

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1st – Mark Downer

2nd – Graham Sunderland

3rd & 1st over 65 – Raymond Simonds

1st Lady – Julia Bailey

1st Visitor – Jack Grogan

Most Improved from 2018 Nationals – Steve Warren-Smith

1st over 75 – Robin Ebsworth

Click Here for the Results

Finally a big thanks to Hyde Sails who very kindly yet again donated a jib, a mainsail & a spinnaker to the three lucky entrants whose names were drawn out of the bucket during Saturday evening’s dinner.

No racing next weekend (16th & 17th March); the next Regatta is for the Spring Plate in a fortnight’s time (23rd & 24th March).

Youtube of Saturday’ s racing by Will Loy An excellent compilation by Will

Additional Photos Flickr album Compiled by Mike Samuelson (Thank you to all who provided photo’s)

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