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Twenty three Illusions (20 on Saturday & 16 on Sunday) had some great racing over the weekend for this season’s Bailey Bowl. However, despite best efforts, not even his wife Jo could stop Class Captain Mark Downer retaining the Trophy by winning all six races!

The F4-5 Easterly on Saturday afternoon meant that conditions outside Bembridge harbour were unsuitable for Illusions, so as soon as there was enough water, the standard Illusion windward-leeward course was set up inside the harbour. After a rather longer postponement (15 minutes) than normal (too much nattering before launching!) the first race got away to a clean start. The positioning of the line meant that some early decisions had to be made as the fleet negotiated the floating pontoons.

Start of Race 1 Saturday –

Mark Downer led through the gap and was well ahead by the windward mark; Mike Toogood was second with Robin Ebsworth and Jo Downer not far behind. Mark extended his lead over the next two rounds leaving the chasing fleet to battle for places. Bill Daniels, out for his first race of the season, found some extra pace and took second, ahead of Jo with Mike fourth & Serena Gosling fifth.

The second race started with two boats very clearly OCS (Olly Laughton-Scott & Robin); both eventually came back, as did a few others, including Bill, who played safe and returned as well.

Start of Race 2 Saturday –

Making the most of the 15-20 knot breeze, Mark again powered himself into the lead by the windward mark and never looked under any pressure as he extended his lead over the next two rounds. Mike Toogood was second after the first round and despite pressure from Jo and Colin Simonds (also out for the first time this season), he held his nerve to finish second. Jo was third, Colin was fourth and John Raymond picked up fifth.

It was gusting around 19 knots at the start of the third race so all credit to the fleet; the front runners were on the money and well done to the beginners at the back of the fleet, who all managed to get over the line safely. Mind you there was an interesting incident at the pin end when Serena was ‘taken out’ by Will Mumby (see pin end start Youtube clip)!

Start of Race 3 Saturday –

Pin end Start of Race 3 Saturday –

Mark again led the way throughout with Bill closest behind. For the first two rounds Mike and Colin were vying for third and fourth however on the third round Mike broached and after a bit of ‘submarining’ filled up and with his electric pump out of action he was towed back to the quay. Rosie Gosling had a good race and was fifth. As always, there were some fierce battles for places lower down in the fleet; a good example was John Raymond who just pipped Olly L-S for sixth place.

Sunday afternoon saw mostly clear skys with plenty of sunshine and a brisk NEasterly breeze which again ruled out racing outside the harbour. The start of the first race of the day was delayed after the Committee Boat dragged her anchor twice and ended up rather close to the houseboats! Having eventually found better holding ground, the fleet got away first time; albeit with Olly Laughton-Scott and Mark Downer both initially missing the pin and having to circle back.

Start of Race 4 Sunday –

However, this clearly didn’t phase Mark who rapidly climbed up to second at the windward mark and began to hunt down his wife Jo who had established a comfortable lead. David Peerless, who had been umpiring elsewhere the previous day was third. Sadly for Owen Pay and before he had even crossed the line, his genoa halyard broke so his mast fell down and he had to be towed back to the quay. Jo was still ahead after two and a half rounds but Mark was just too strong on the final short beat and finished half a boat length ahead. Despite getting his spinnaker halyard wrapped round his rudder, Hugh Doherty was fourth and Serena was fifth.

Even though it was gusting 15 knots, the fifth race got away to a clean start. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was Mark’s white spinnaker that was the first to appear on the run down to the leeward gate.

Start of Race 5 Sunday –

The chasing fleet led by Bill, with Mike, David and Jo who were all quite close behind thought that they might be in with a chance when it became clear that Mark had a problem with his spinnaker and was going to be limited to his using his genoa for the second and third runs. However, it was not to be and Mark took his fifth win; Bill was second well ahead of Jo and Mike.

After another good start, the sixth and final race of the day followed a similar pattern to the previous races, with Mark rounding the windward mark ahead, and having sorted out his spinnaker between races, he soon established an unbeatable lead.

Start of Race 6 Sunday –

This left Jo, David, Mike and Bill to battle it out for the next four places. By the time they reached the windward mark for the fourth time to finish, Jo took second, Bill was third and Mike was fourth.

After two excellent days racing, it was Downer one/two. Bill Daniels was third and Mike Toogood was fourth.

No racing next weekend; but its the Christmas Cracker the weekend after (14th & 15th December).

Additional photos –

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