Mid-week, the forecast for the weekend’s annual Illusion Match Racing Championships at Bembridge was not looking very promising, however although overcast on Saturday, the initial concerns were more about whether there was going to be enough breeze, rather than too much.

After the usual briefing, particularly important this year as it had been decided to adjust the starting sequence to avoid collisions at the start by over exuberant helms in the next match! With the Committee Boat set up to the east of Fisherman’s Pontoon, the first of the 56 round-robin matches got away on time. In the second match, Owen Pay found extra pace against Colin Simonds and finished well ahead; he then went on to beat another of the top seeds, Mark Downer in the second flight. With the breeze varying both in strength and direction as the racing progressed, other surprises included Philip Russell also beating Colin.

In the fourth flight, Hugh Doherty thought he had just beaten Owen Pay only to find out that he had been penalised earlier in the race and in ignorance had finished without taking the penalty. Also in the same flight, David Peerless outsailed Raymond Simonds to win by quite a margin. In the final flight of the day, Mark Downer ensured that Colin Simonds never got too close and Raymond, despite being OCS and having to return, found a couple of favourable windshifts and came in a boat length ahead of Bruce Huber.

It was relatively straight forward working out the top 4 in the Red league for Sundays quarter finals, however it was harder in the Black league as there were three who had 6 wins each; the problem was that they had each beaten each other! It took IJ Ant Davey who was one of the umpires to find the solution tucked away in Annex C (the first who lost (Raymond) was 3rd, the second who lost (David) was 2nd and the last one to lose (Bruce) was 1st)!

Sunday’s forecast was for the breeze to increase significantly from the SSW and for it to start raining around lunchtime. In the event, the breeze did indeed increase as the morning programme progressed but fortunately it remained manageable and the worst of the rain held off until racing had finished. As a new venture this year, Sunday’s schedule not only included the quarter finals, semi finals and finals (as well as a plate semi-finals and finals) but also a round-robin for those who had not made the top eight. With two helms unable to race due to other commitments this left six others who had another five races that were dovetailed in with the finals flights.

The first semi-final saw Mark Downer (who had beaten Jonathan N-L 2-0 in the quarter finals) beat David Peerless (who had beaten Owen Pay 2-1) 2-0. In the second semi-final Bruce Huber (who had beaten Colin Simonds in the quarter finals 2-0) beat Raymond Simonds (who had beaten Alastair Speare-Cole 2-0) 2-0 as well. In the plate semi-finals, Owen Pay beat Jonathan N-L 2-0, and Colin Simonds beat Alastair S-C 2-0.

This meant that the finals were between last year’s winner, Mark Downer and Bruce Huber, and the plate final was between Owen Pay and Colin Simonds. The racing that ensued did not disappoint! Mark took the first two races in the ‘first to three’ finals, however Bruce managed to get ahead in the third race to make it 1-2.

Start of Race 3 (taken by Crispin Kenyon) – https://youtu.be/lZMq_MaY2Uw

Having successfully inflicted a pre-start penalty on Mark in the fourth race Bruce was able to secure a second win to make it 2-2. With all to play for in the fifth and final race, the pre-start circling of the Committee Boat kept everyone guessing as to who would come out in front by the time they reached the first windward mark.

Start of Race 5 (taken by Crispin Kenyon) – https://youtu.be/i1HAlFyCTDY

In the event it was Bruce’s green Illusion and although the distance between them was not that much, Mark was unable to pull the deficit back and with a 3-2 victory, Bruce won the trophy and stopped Mark chalking up his sixth win in succession.

In the meantime, Colin beat Owen 2-0 in the Plate final and Raymond beat David in a one race sail-off to take third place.

Many thanks to the organisers, the Race Committee, the Umpires & Assistant Umpires and of course the competitors, all of whom made sure it was an excellent couple of days racing which saw a total of 100 starts!

No racing next weekend (1st & 2nd February); its the Valentine Trophy the one after (8th & 9th February)

Additional photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmKYvFsn


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