Picnic Hamper 2023 – 25th & 26th November


Conditions on Saturday morning were almost perfect, bright sunshine and a F3 North Westerly, for the 20 Illusionists who made it to Bembridge SC ready for a 09:00 start. Having chipped away the ice, they headed out of the harbour to the course off Silver Beach. After a short postponement to allow the final few boats to make the start in time, the first race got away to a clean start.

Start of Race 1 Saturday – https://youtu.be/4wpmQaEcKfs

Mark Downer’s grey spinnaker was the first to fly as the fleet rounded the windward mark and spreader; Bruce Huber’s green one was next just ahead of Owen Pay and Mike Toogood. With time a bit tight (HW was at 09:24) it was decided to run two rather than three round races. Mark remained ahead to the finish but Owen managed to overtake Bruce on the second beat to come home second. The first start of the second race saw too many boats being over eager at the pin end of the line which meant a General Recall. The second start under Flag U was better albeit a couple of unidentified boats (the commentary on the video proved to be inaccurate) got away with it!

Start of Race 2 Saturday (General Recall) – https://youtu.be/PyhDSxXVNgk

Re-start of Race 2 Saturday – https://youtu.be/EaYoQWStbFw

Owen was first to round the windward marks closely followed by Bruce and Olly Laughton-Scott with Rosie Gosling amongst others not far behind. However on the second round, Bruce and Mark moved ahead of Owen to take the top two places. Rosie was fourth inches ahead of David Peerless and Olly. The third and final race of the day was again started under Flag U. Although there was a couple of seconds delay on the hooter and Class Flag being removed, the line was rightly called all clear.

Start of Race 3 Saturday – https://youtu.be/2r-sIlYx_bE

Bruce and Mark were again the two to catch, but it was good to see Olly’s yellow spinnaker leading the chasing fleet. At the finish at the windward mark after two and a half rounds, Bruce picked up his second win of the day, Mark was second and Olly was third. The next four boats (Mike T, Tim, Owen and Simon Birchenough) all finished within inches of each other. Although towards the back in all three races, it was great to see Charlie Edgerton-Warburton back afloat after a gap of many years.

At 08:30 on Sunday morning things were not looking very promising for racing; the harbour was flat calm and outside was not much better. It was therefore decided to postpone for half an hour to see if a useable breeze would develop. Time well spent with a few boats doing their buoyancy test and a few checking their weight (boat and helm!). With no sign of a breeze in the harbour, the Committee Boat (Sea Breeze) headed outside to see if Chimet’s F2 SE’erly had made it to Bembridge. And it had, so the word was sent back to the waiting fleet and a course was set off Silver Beach. Starting in 7 knots, things looked good, however not long after everyone had gone round the windward marks, there was a 180 degree wind shift!

Start of Race 1(4) on Sunday – https://youtu.be/3e1f2jkhnc4

Although it was the back of the fleet who where initially the most affected, those at the front (Justin Biddle, Bruce, Mike Issiais and Mark) still found it hard work to keep their sails pulling as what little breeze as there was by then came and went. Wisely Sea Breeze moved up the windward mark and finished the race there. Directed to return back into the harbour, and with a pretty steady 7 knot South Westerly settling in by then, the course was re-located and the second race of the day got underway.

Start of Race 2(5) on Sunday – https://youtu.be/kXVsrZUzIk0

Although only a relatively short first leg to the windward marks, there was no stopping Bruce; but it was good to see Simon up with the other front runners (Mike T, Owen and Justin). Mark’s absence in the front group raised a few eyebrows, but of course you can never write him off and by the finish he was third behind Owen. Mike T was fourth. Justin and Oliver both retired and headed back to the Club. With the windward marks relaid a bit further from the line, the final race of the series got away first time in the 8 knot WSW’erly breeze.


Start of Race 3(6) on Sunday – https://youtu.be/r1ApvkDPyrg

Looking good initially for a clean sweep, Bruce led the way with Mike I, Mark and Tim Lyle close behind. The second round saw Mark move into first after selecting what turned out to be the favoured side of the leeward gate. Mike I held onto third, Jo Downer was fourth and Rosie was fifth.

Overall this meant Bruce won the Picnic Hamper (suitably filled by last year’s winner, Mark); Mark was second and Owen was third.

Midday racing next weekend for the Bailey Bowl.

Additional Photos – https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjB4Ecc

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