Bembridge SC – Keelboat Racing Week Commencing 23rd August 2021

Monday 23rd August – initially overcast but then sunny Easterly F3 (10 knots)

Can it really be the final week of daily racing this summer?! How time has simply flown by!

Anyway, after a pretty frenetic weekend and with all hands to the pumps to get the J70s back to Cowes, it was not too surprising that there was a paucity of boats wanting to race on Monday. Initially there was quite a lumpy sea, but it dropped off as the afternoon passed and by the time they headed back to the moorings it was considerably smoother. There was only one Redwing, Gosling, helmed by Rosie Gosling, so she started with the five One-Designs and sailed the same course (from E to JJ, (2)) finishing some 14 minutes ahead of D Orange helming No 8 One-Design. Jacs Cottrell was second a minute later. Simon Allocca was third over half a minute later.

Tuesday 24th August – sunny with a NW’erly F4 breeze

With only Mark & Jo Downer in their Redwing Enigma wanting to race, they decided against racing on their own. Albeit in the event there was no One-Design racing anyway as it was judged, having got out to Under Tyne, that it was too risky to to try to transfer crews from Delta to/from their boats. Obviously a pity as it was the One-Design’s Cartwright Prize (triangle, sausage, triangle course).

Wednesday 25th August – sunny periods with a NE’erly F3-2 breeze – by Richard Jessel

Three Redwings & six One-Designs started from close to E, however soon after both fleets got away, the F3 breeze dropped and by the end of the shortened course that was finished at an inflatable dropped the harbour side of G, there were only two Redwings and four One-Designs still racing. In the Redwing race, Andrew Eddy in Plover finished just over a minute ahead of Rosie Gosling in Gosling. Susie Beart in BOD 5 somehow managed to find the elusive puffs and crossed the finishing line nearly twelve minutes ahead of Helen Mathieson in BOD 1; D Orange was third only twenty seconds later. Susie was therefore the winner of the Billy Fortescue Trophy.

Thursday 26th August – sunny periods with a NNE’erly F3-4 breeze

Three Redwings and three One-Designs raced in a very lumpy sea. Starting off E, both fleets had Ruthven as their first windward mark. Olav Cole, sailing in Redwing single handed just got away with a pin end port tack flyer and then continued going eastwards in the hope of benefiting from the westerly flowing tide; James Wilson helming Quail and Alex Downer helming Enigma went the other way and remained on starboard. Definitely the better route with Quail getting the better of Enigma. After a second round, with similar tactics, and despite having to take a penalty for hitting Ruthven, Quail was still out in front and finished two minutes ahead of Enigma. Impressive single handed by Olav even if he did finish over four minutes behind Enigma. Although Mark Grzegorczyk in BOD 9 who emulated Olav’s port tack start at the pin end of the line made it with plenty of space, remaining on port tack did him no favours. Susie Beart in BOD 5 tacked early and headed eastwards to join him, while Simon Allocca in BOD 1 remained on starboard and reached R with a healthy lead that he maintained on the second shorter round to Fitzwilliam and back to E. Susie was second just under a minute later.

Friday 27th August – sunny periods with a NNE’erly F2-4 breeze

Getting out to Under Tyne for a 09:30 start of the BOD’s Jubilee Trophy races was certainly interesting as it on low water. Although a bit later than planned, India & Sea Breeze just made it with the crews of the four top competitors and the Race Officers. Starting from E, the first race was to Janson, a laid leeward mark and back to E twice, although it was shortened after one round. First blood went to Matk Grz with Susie Beart second, D Orange was third and Sarah Marshall was fourth. In view of the lumpy sea state it had been decided to keep in the same boats rather than switch as in previous years. With the breeze veering more easterly, the second race had Fitz as the windward mark, again twice round through the line on the upwind leg. Susie built up what looked like a winning lead and after rounding the inflatable leeward mark headed off eastwards and looked as if she had forgotten to come back through the line so when the course was shortened to just one round, she was disadvantaged and Mark was able to sneak through to win. The course remained the same for the third race and after a nail biting run to the leeward mark, Susie took line honours but with Mark securing third place he emerged the overall winner of the Trophy by a quarter of a point; Susie was runner up,Dwas third and Sarah was fourth.

By the afternoon races, the F3 breeze had backed to the North and was reasonably stable. The three Redwings made an interesting start on their way to Janson with Olav Cole in Redwing making a port tack start from mid-way along the line and Mark Downer in Enigma hitting the pin twice! Olav remained on port while Mark and Robin Ebsworth in Quintessence headed to Seaview on starboard. Olav was right and rounded Janson well ahead. They closed up a bit on the run to the leeward inflatable but Olav extended his lead on the second beat and with the breeze dropping off finished eight minutes ahead of Mark who overtook Robin on the final beat after Quintessence had had to take a penalty for hitting the leeward mark.

Only two BODs; No 1 helmed by Simon Allocca and No 10 helmed by Andrew Eddy. The former started mid-line on port while the latter was at the pin end on starboard. Although they were reasonably close at Janson, Simon was well ahead at the leeward mark and made further gains on the second beat. Rather than prolong the agony of trying to beat back from the leeward mark in the failing breeze, the race was shortened as they passed through the line downwind.


Saturday 28th August – NE 3-4 (am), then NNE 3 dropping to variable 1, then N 3 (pm) – sunny periods

JC Final start –

Halfway up the first beat the three boats split tacks with Quail choosing the middle route to Derrick. First round with Enigma about 15 seconds behind and Toucan a similar margin behind. Despite best efforts and at times pointing higher, Mark was unable to match James’ boat speed so had to be content with being the runner-up. On the second beat to Derrick Colin risked all and headed inshore but to no avail and by the end of the race was a couple of minutes behind the other two.

The afternoon races were part of the BHYC Regatta, but run as normal by BSC. With a number of Redwings still making their way out of the harbour a quick decision was made to start the One-Design first. Unlike the morning, the sea had settled, however what seemed a workable F3 breeze from the NNE dropped off almost completely as six One-Designs started to line up for their start. It took them some time to clear the line and at one stage it looked as if Russ Fowler in BOD 1 had retired and drifted back to the moorings, however the breeze eventually filled in from the north and he rejoined the fray. Susie Beart in BOD5 build up a substantial lead on the first leg to Britten and three quarters to the leeward inflatable but then got mixed up with a group of Redwings rounding at the same time and was overtaken by Alexander Ross in BOD 8 who then pulled out a similar lead on the beat back to Janson. Despite some confusion rounding the final mark, he finished just over a minute ahead of Susie who held off a late challenge from James Row in BOD 9.

In the Redwing race, once they had drifted over the line and the breeze filled, it was again Quail, helmed by James Wilson who emerged as the race leader rounding Janson and never looked under much pressure from the chasing fleet led by Dominic Samuelson in Tarpon. Some excellent close racing mid-fleet as the fleet got to grips with the shortish beats and runs; Tarpon was still second at the last mark but Mark Downer in Engima pounced on the final short leg to the line and took second place by ten seconds. Olav Cole in Redwing was fourth.

Having been moved to the back of the start order as they had difficulty reaching the start area off E, the five Flying Fifteens from BHYC made a good start in what by that time was a F3 NN’erly and were soon hot on the heels of the Redwings. Richard Coleman in 3674 was clearly the boat to beat and worked up a substantial lead after the beat to Janson. Chris Wilkinson in 3358 was the closest behind with Roger Herbert in 3498 third. Although well spread to all accounts they thoroughly enjoyed their race and the challenge of racing with two other fleet’s of keelboats.

Sunday 29th August – initially N 3-4, then SE 1-2 then NE 3- sunny periods

Sunday’s forecast was mixed with a lull in the NE’erly breeze in the middle of the afternoon; but the question was whether it was going to be accurate or we would be ok. Being optimistic and with a nice F3-4 Northerly the Race Officers decided to risk it and sent the thirteen Redwings off to the Warner, the six One-Designs to Ruthven and the five Flying Fifteens to Derek. All made it, probably helped by the breeze veering to the SEast before dropping off. The issue though was whether they could get back against the tide on what had become a beat. Surprisingly the majority decided to stick it out and there were only three Redwings take up the offer of a tow and one One-Design drifted back to their mooring. Spread out across the Eastern Solent on the way back from Warner to the leeward inflatable where the race was finished, the Redwing race in particular was up for grabs and whoever were going to pick up the NE’erly F4 breeze that Chimet was showing was on its way. In the event, Colin Samuelson in Toucan crossed the line first without the new breeze, but Alastair Speare-Cole helming Avocet and Olav Cole in Redwing were well placed when it reached them so they were able to cut the corner and take second and third places. Although at the back, there were a couple of very close finishes with Plover & Quintessence and Snow Goose & Tara crossing the finish line within seconds of each other.

After something of a drifting match to Ruthven, particularly as they had rigged up standard jibs rather than genoas, what turned out to be a very slow beat back to the finish was a masterclass in perseverance. Extraordinarily though the  lead two boats, Jacs Cotterell and family in No 11 and Alexander Ross in No 8 finished within a few seconds of each other on opposite tacks. A special inaugural victors for Jacs, Tim and their two girls. Robin Joy in No 10 was third three minutes later and Susie Beart in No 5 was fourth four minutes later.

It was a similar story for the five Flying Fifteens. After a good start, they all got about a third of the way up the beat to Derek before the wind veered and out came the spinnakers. The subsequent beat back to the finish was painfully slow especially for the back markers. Richard Coleman in 3674 was the most successful finding the zyphers and finished 20 minutes ahead of Chris Wilkinson in 3358. John Ellis in 1333 was third a further 19 minutes later. One can  only applaud Roger & Gill Herbert in 3498 and Colin Simmonds & his crew in 3750 for their perseverance to the very end!

Monday 30th August – NE F4 overcast – report by Andrew Eddy & Willy Clegg

A  very tight Race!   To complement yesterday’s  rather windless trip to Warner, a mark of the shipping channel to Southampton, the Race Officers Andrew Eddy and Willy Clegg chose St Helens, one buoy further down the channel  as the windward mark for the start from Garland in the Force 4 NE prevailing when the starting gun sounded today. All six boats arrived at the starting line with time to spare so headed off towards the pin end.  Enigma (Mark Downer) nearly arrived there too early and Quintessence (Robin Ebsworth) eased round it rather slowly but successfully.   Differing opinions on which side of the course had two on the left hand side of the course;  Red Gauntlett II (Joe Robertson) and Quintessence and the others, Avocet (Alastair Speare Cole), Tara (Mike Toogood),  Redwing (Olav Cole) and Enigma on the right.

Tara was the first to turn for the windward mark and seemed well placed to round first, but as the boats converged it became clear that Enigma and Redwing were ahead of her.  With a strong and favourable tide back to Undertyne the downwind leg provided some gybing with Redwing going left first and gaining a few yards.  With the wind easing to Force 3 and moving slightly North, at the leeward mark the next beat was changed from Ruthven to Janson.  After all starting on the left of the course lots of different ideas were visible as the fleet spread across the bay on numerous tacks.   The final leg was a run to the finish at Garland (all boats were returning to the Harbour).   After nearly 85 minutes of racing the fleet remained tightly bunched.

The winner was Enigma sailed by Mark and Jo Downer whilst Olav Cole in Redwing was a very close second, only 13 seconds behind her.   Joe Robertson had hauled himself and his crew Annie Robertson up the order on the long run and came in third.  At the back in fifth place were Quintessence who had caught up from a clear last place at the first windward mark and managed by the finish to squeeze past Avocet who came in 11 seconds later.   A memorable last race of the summer season.  There were no One-Designs.

Photos courtesy of Mike Samuelson

Additional photos:








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