Not the kindest weather for the final weekend of the Illusion season, however it could have been worse and at least the drizzle on Saturday held off until the finish of the last of the four races for the St George’s Day Trophy.

After a short postponement the first of four races got away to a clean start; that said, Caroline Simonds was lucky not to have been called OCS as she accelerated towards the line in the final couple of seconds before the hooter. At the pin end, Owen Pay had to circle back after getting to the pin a couple of seconds too early.

Start of Race 1 –

Caroline and Rory Morrison were the first to reach the windward marks with Tim Lyle, Mike Toogood and Owen not far behind. As the race evolved, Rory built up a safe lead ahead of Owen, Caroline and Tim.

The start of Race 2 did not go to plan with so many over the line that the only option was a General Recall.

Start of Race 2 –

The re-start under Flag U went better! It was particularly encouraging to see Will Lowe nail it as he crossed the line at speed with inches to spare. Rory was first round the windward marks by quite a margin. Colin Simonds, Mike Issaias, Mike T were the chasing group and over the next two rounds they did manage to cut his lead by quite a bit, but not enough! Mike I took second and Caroline who had caught up was third. At the bottom end of the fleet, Crispin Kenyon and Jamie Scrimgour had a close race that ended in a tie.

Re-Start of Race 2 –

Sticking with Flag U, the third race saw another clean start; mind you there was a bit of bumping at the Committee boat end of the line!

Start of Race 3 –

Rory was again first to reach the windward mark, closely pursued by Owen, Colin, Mike I and Tim. And Will was not far behind the either. Although Rory remained in front, there were a number of place changes as the three round race evolved. Colin took second just ahead of his wife Caroline.

After another re-set of the course as the F 3 breeze continued to veer to the east, the start of the final race, again under Flag U was another clean one; the main change though on the first leg was that Rory was mid-fleet and it was Mike I, Colin, Caroline and Owen who found the best pressure and started the downwind leg well ahead of the rest of the fleet. Owen took over as the race leader on the second round and remained out in front for the rest of the race that finished at the windward mark after three and a half rounds. Having moved into the leading group on the second round Rory then had an issue with his spinnaker so had to make do with third behind Colin.

Start of Race 4 –

With all four races counting (i.e no discard), Rory was first overall with 6 points; Owen was second on 12 points and Caroline was third on 13 points.

Fortunately the heavy overnight rain had stopped and the sun was clearly trying to appear for the eight Illusionists who wanted to join in the traditional final race(s) of the season for the Woodford Long Distance Trophy early on Sunday afternoon. Originally forecast as a F5 NNW, it had backed to the W/SW and reduced to the top end of a F4.

After a briefing to explain what was planned, the eight boats made a clean start and headed up to a laid windward mark which they rounded to starboard; then it was out of the harbour to Garland (port), Nainby (to starboard) and a finish at the Tide Gauge.

Start of Race 1 Sunday-

Alastair Speare-Cole led the fleet out of the harbour with Mike I and Tim close behind. Rounding Garland brought a few hails for water and then finding Nainby caused some difficulties for non-local helms and allowed Rory to move up into a slender lead ahead of Mike T, with Monty Irwin and Mike I finishing only inches apart.

There was a slight hick up during the start of the race back home when the Race Officers messed up the timing and had to AP and start again. Mind you not helped by the Committee Boat needing to use her engine to hold position as the anchor was dragging.

Start of Race 2 Sunday –

With the breeze increasingly to around 16 knots, it was a challenging beat back into the harbour. Tim was forced to retire when his kicker pulled out of the boom and Mike T also retired after running aground on Attrill’s Point. Mike I lead the way up the harbour to the previously used windward mark, but unfortunately for him rounded to starboard rather the port so although he crossed the finish line between the Club pontoons first, he subsequently retired leaving David to pick up a first and Rory a second. With both races to count, Rory was the overall winner on 3 points; David was second on a count back with 6 points and Monty was third also with 6 points.

Two days of surprisingly good racing to finish the 2023-2024 season. We look forward to seeing the fleet back in early October for the start of the 2024-2025 season.

Additional photos:

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