A brisk SSW’erly breeze and not a enough water in the middle of the harbour to start on time greeted the thirteen enthusiastic Illusionists and three race officers early on Saturday morning. After a postponement of just over 20 minutes, the first race got away to a clean start. Mark Downer carried on from where he finished a fortnight ago and was first round the windward mark with his son George, Bruce Huber & Julia Bailey close behind. As the race developed, Mark extended his lead and the efforts of the chasing group focused on who was going to take second & third. After some close racing and tactical selection of the best leeward gate buoy to round to cross the line at the end of the third round, Bruce came in a couple of boat lengths ahead of Julia who was about a foot in front of George.
The start of the second race looked as if it was going to require a general recall, but with a few seconds to the hooter, the line cleared to leave only Bruce Huber, Mike Toogood and an unidentified boat at the pin end as OCS. The unidentified boat went back but neither Bruce or Mike did, so although they comple ted the course, they did not count. Mark was again in the lead for most of the race, however not realising that his efforts were to be of no avail, Bruce was always in contention; indeed was just in front for some of second round. Having initially been next in the chasing pack Alastair Speare-Cole found himself gradually dropping down the fleet as first Julia & George overtook him, and then on the final round, Jo Downer & Steve Warren-Smith did the same. At the back of the fleet, Philip Russell found himself going round in circles when his steering broke so he retired and was towed back to the Illusion quay.
With the breeze gusting 15 – 17 knots, all credit to fleet as they got away to a clean start; that said, Julia had a senior moment and had to take a penalty after a port/starboard incident with Bruce just before the hooter. With both Bruce & Julia well back, Mark was soon on his way to a third win. Alastair Speare-Cole was second for most of the race but in the end had to make do third after Bruce powered through on the last round. Julia also made up a lot of ground after her poor start however ended up heading home after an incident with Steve Warren-Smith at the leeward gate and the realisation that the neck seal of her drysuit was too tight and making her feel distinctly woozy!
Although she was unable to repeat her sixth place in the first race, it was great to see the Class Social Sec, Serena Gosling back out sailing following her double hip replacement last autumn. Full marks also to David Peerless who set off at 05:30 from his home on the mainland to be in time for racing!
Sunday started with some sunshine and a more gentle SW’erly breeze, however as racing progressed, there was occasional drizzle and at the start of the third and final race of the day the breeze had increased and was gusting 22-24 knots. The first race started almost on time and with a fairly short line, a flooding tide and gusts of 17 knots, it was not surprising that there were three boats OCS. What was slightly surprising was that one of them was Mark Downer! However all came back so the chase was on. The first round leaders were Bruce Huber, Jo Downer & George Downer, but as the race progressed George, despite his electric pump not working, overtook his mother (who looking back at the video clip of the start should have definitely been called OCS but got away with it!) and then held off the challenge from his father and Steve Warren-Smith.
The second race saw more close racing with Bruce & Mark match racing at the front of the fleet as it wove its way towards the leeward gate through the mixed dinghy fleet from BHYC that was heading in the opposite direction. With gusts of 20 plus knots, it was not surprising that a few of the less experienced dinghy sailors capsized which added to the excitement. Steve & Jo were never far away from each other and at the finish only inches separated them. At the back of the fleet Hugh Doherty, Philip Russell & Mike Toogood also enjoyed a very close race. Guy Mattinson retired after partially filling up and his pump failing. David Peerless also swamped after a spectacular broach on the final run, but undaunted and with only his hand pump, managed to complete the course.
The sun made a brief appearance just before the start of the final race of the day, however in the final minute, the breeze increased to 24 knots as they lined up for the final race. Fortunately what can best be described as a slight altercation on the start line between David, Steve & Bruce was soon forgotten and at the end of the first round it was good to see Guy Mattinson in second place behind Mark with Bruce, George & Steve close on his heels. In the second round Mark & Bruce pulled out a big lead as the light drizzle kicked in again. It was still neck and neck at the start of the final round however Bruce managed to find the extra speed on the beat to the windward mark and finished a boat length or so ahead of Mark. George took third place ahead of Guy and Steve.
With both Mark & Bruce having three wins each, two seconds and their discard not counting, it came down to whoever had won the final race to split the tie; so this winter’s Icebreaker Trophy went to Bruce on the narrowest of margins. George was third and Steve was fourth.
No racing next weekend; the Stratton Trophy is the following one (11th & 12th March) and then its the National Championship’s on 18th & 19th March.
Race 1 on Saturday
Race 2 on Saturday
Race 4 on Sunday
Race 5 on Sunday