Fifteen Illusions for the penultimate day of 2017-2018 season was pretty amazing and just goes to show how strong the fleet is at Bembridge.  Saturday’s racing was for the St George’s Day Trophy, a picture presented by Vernon Stratton in 2002.  A slightly different format to the norm in that there are four races with no discard.

28Apr18 - adr3(2)With a light NW/N breeze forecast there were no objections when it was announced that the course would be just outside the harbour off Silver Beach.  A problem with one of the two launching cranes delayed the start of the first race by about twenty five minutes.  After an excellent start by the majority of the fleet, Class Captain Mark Downer was the first to round the windward mark with his brother-in-law Philip Russell, Bruce Huber and his son Alex not far behind.  Mark extended his lead on the second round and Bruce overtook Philip.  There was some close racing in the chasing fleet and unluckily for young Alex, he found himself having to make do with an eighth place.

The start of the second race saw Philip just over cooking it and having difficulty extricating himself from the middle of the line to return to the pre-start side before he could join the fray.  Bruce meanwhile found the quickest route to the windward mark and rounded well ahead of George Downer, Mark and Mike Toogood.  On the second round, Bruce extended his lead and Mark & Mike both managed to overtake George, albeit mere inches separated Mike & George at the finish.  Other close finishes lower down the fleet included David Peerless crossing the line two inches ahead of Mike Issaias.

With the light breeze veering a good twenty degrees to the North during the pre-start of the third race, the AP was displayed and the course was re-set.  Unfortunately it then decided to back a bit in the final minute which resulted in a General Recall as  there were just too many boats OCS at the pin end for it to be a fair start.  The re- start, under Flag Uniform, went smoothly albeit the breeze backed even more in the final minute.  Rather than delay still further, the Race Officers sensibly let the sequence continue even though it did mean that it was possible to make the windward mark in one tack.  Somewhat to his surprise the fleet was led young Alex Downer with Bruce and father Mark in hot pursuit.  However he kept his nerve and still had a good lead when he rounded the re-positioned windward mark for the second time.  Bruce reduced his lead on the run to the leeward gate but Alex held on to take first place inches ahead.  Mid-fleet, saw some very close finishes with 5th to 11th all crossing the line within about 5 seconds of each other.

The start of the fourth and final race, was spot on for most of the fleet – even more impressive given that the preparatory was Flag U again.  With the fleet splitting tacks, it was good to see Alastair Speare-Cole round the windward mark first ahead of Bruce, Mark, Jo Downer and Richard Ambler.  Despite their best efforts to reel him in, Alastair managed to hold on and gain a well deserved win.28Apr18 - r2

An excellent morning’s racing; congratulations to Brice Huber who took home (not for the first time!) the Trophy; Mark was second and George was consistent enough to take third one point ahead of his brothe28Apr18 - pgr Alex.


Start of Race 1 –

Start of Race 2 –

Start of Race 3 –

At the Windward Mark Race 3 –

Start of Race 4 –


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