Traditionally the number of boats for the final weekend’s racing of the Illusion Winter season is on the low side.  Falling on the early May Bank Holiday and a pretty dismal forecast especially for Sunday, this year was no different.  However those who did make it enjoyed themselves and with the top helms sailing elsewhere, racing was very competitive.

Saturday’s four races were for the St George’s Day Trophy; although tempted to have the course outside, the Race Officers decided that there was still enough room in the harbour and that it would safer to keep boats away from the narrow entrance channel as a lot of visiting rallies were due to entering.  The first race got off to a not very impressive start, albeit conditions were not easy as the F2 SSE’erly breeze was flicking around.  Andy Blundell took an early lead but on the second round David Russell-Jones found the better wind shift and overtook him and on the third round Bill Daniels did even better and took over the lead.

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The start of the second race was much closer although Philip Russell’s port flyer did not pay off and he found himself at the back of the fleet.  With frequent wind shifts of 15 + degrees, the beat to the windward mark was particularly testing.  Andy was again out in front with Bill, Richard Ambler and Mike Toogood initially not far away, however as the race progressed he found the best way to go and ended up well ahead.   Second & third were very tight with Mike inches ahead of Bill at the finish.

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Race 3 saw another very close start with David R-J leading the way, chased by the new helm on the block Alastair Hill, Bill & Andy.  Sadly Alastair dropped back as the race progressed but it was very encouraging to see him starting to get the hang of racing an Illusion – a very positive sign for the future.  It was also good to see Mike Toogood finishing fourth.

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The breeze picked up slightly for the final race of the day and although he dropped back after the first round, Philip Russell was just in front at the leeward gate, hotly pursued by another nearly new comer Rob Lee, Alastair & David followed by Richard, Andy & Bill with Mike at the back after sailing into hole at the tricky windward mark.  In the second round, David & Philip were well matched out front, but by the finish the latter had been overtaken by Bill & Andy and had to be satisfied with fourth.

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Although the overall results were initially worked out based on all four races counting, instructions on the back of the trophy made it clear that a discard should be included!  This meant that the overall winner was David Russell-Jones, with Bill Daniels second & Andy Blundell third.

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YouTube Clips:

Start of Race 2 on Saturday :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7QZNkP2YcQ

Start of Race 3 on Saturday:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4c4noa9yQ4

Start of Race 4 on Saturday:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiMrAMw9WlQ

 

In keeping with past practice, the course for Sunday’s Woodford Long Distance race was not decided until the numbers competing on the day and of course the conditions were known.  Unfortunately the strong overnight winds and forecast rain put a lot of people off and the only shows were Mike Toogood & Bill Daniels.  Having agreed that the format would be the best of three “rather different” races, the first started opposite the Club pontoons on the run down to a mark laid off Fisherman’s Pontoon.  Bill was a boat length ahead but on the beat back to the line Mike somehow just managed to inch ahead at the finish.

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After a very short downwind leg, the second race took them out of the harbour into the NE’erly swell; initially to Old Church but then as they were clearing enjoying it to the Tide Gauge and back into the harbour.  Closely monitored by Mike Sam in a RIB and although Bill had to do a bit of pumping, the little Illusions showed what amazing boats they are as they happily rode the swell.  Mike was just ahead at the Tide Gauge and despite Bill surfing up very close on a couple of occasions, he crossed the finish line back at the Club four boat lengths in front and therefore secured the last trophy of the season.”

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YouTube Clip:

Heading back from the Tide Gauge on Sunday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxQT79zoBCI