Compared to the first Regatta of the season a fortnight ago, there were fewer Illusions racing this weekend for the Picnic Hamper, however it was good to see last year’s winner Graham Sunderland back duelling for podium places after a busy and very successful summer. With minimal wind in the harbour on Saturday, eight Illusions therefore headed out of the harbour to take advantage of the light easterly breeze off Silver Beach.
The first race got away to a clean start after a 14 minute postponement to allow the last couple of boats to reach the start area and for the course to be re-set as the breeze veered more easterly. Perhaps nor too surprisingly that the first four at the windward mark were Graham, Raymond Simonds, James Meaning and Julia Bailey. On the second round it was still Graham in front with James & Raymond neck and neck and Julia a little way behind. Having chosen different buoys at the leeward gate, it was light wind expert James who came out ahead and indeed on the third round caught and just managed to overtake Graham in the short final beat to the finish line.
The first start of the second race saw most of the fleet OCS and the General Recall being displayed for the first time of the new season. The appearance of the Black Flag for the second start brought everyone back to earth and ensured a clean start! Although the previous race winner James was initially one of the last boats to cross the line, he somehow managed to catch up by the windward mark only to then have a problem with his spinnaker sheet which dropped him back again. Mind you it had been a pretty tight at the windward mark and Raymond was forced to take a penalty. On the second and third rounds Graham got well ahead but it was all to play for for the chasing boats, especially Raymond, Alastair Spear-Cole and James who had caught back up again. Although able to hold her own on the beats, Julia lost out on the runs after her spinnaker sheet came undone and she was unable to re-set it. By the finish, James had pulled up into second and Raymond just pipped Alastair on the line.
For the third and final race of the day and with the tide dropping fast, the Race Officers decided to stick with the Black Flag so as to hopefully achieve a clean start. At the windward mark it was Raymond who was just ahead of James with Graham nor far behind. Unusually Julia was low down the fleet but managed to climb back as the race progressed to eventually finish just ahead of Graham and not that far behind Raymond & James.
The F3 Easterly on Sunday morning meant that conditions outside the harbour were not for Illusions, so racing was kept in the harbour. Despite a slightly short line because of a moored boat, the first race for the increased fleet of twelve boats got away to a clean start. Bruce Huber was first away and with most of the fleet keeping to the left of the course it was very close at the windward mark. On the run back down to the leeward gate Bruce, Julia, Raymond & Graham were very close but as the race progressed it became a match race between Raymond & Julia and Bruce & Graham. At the finish, Julia was inches ahead of Raymond and Bruce was half a boat length in front of Graham. Good to see David Peerless in his recently acquired ex-West Kirby Illusion well up in the top half of the fleet.
In the second race of the day, Bruce was inches away from being OCS and took advantage of the clear air to round the windward mark just ahead of Julia & Graham but as they passed the Committee Boat on the way to leeward gate they were line abreast. Good to see Justin Biddle in a loaner boat and Andy Christie very much part of the chasing group. On the second round Bruce got well away leaving Julia & Graham to battle it out for second place. On the final round Bruce extended his lead and Graham got ahead of Julia with James and Andy following not far behind. David did well again and overtook Raymond on the final short beat to the line.
In the final race, although James came back to be safe, Bruce was in fact the only boat called OCS. Having looked at the video Raymond appears to have got away with it, however, the camera is not quite on the line! At the windward mark Raymond was first round, followed by Graham, Alastair & Julia. On the run they were well spread across the track with Raymond favouring the right side. By the leeward gate Raymond was still ahead of Graham & Bruce, with Alastair & Julia the next pair not far behind. On the second round, Raymond continued to just keep his nose in front of Bruce & Graham, however by the finish at the extended windward mark it was Bruce who crossed the line inches ahead of Raymond with Graham a couple of feet behind. The next three places were also very close with Julia inches ahead of James and Alastair a few feet behind.
Congratulations to Raymond who won the Picnic Hamper, one point ahead of Graham with James in third two points behind. Julia was fourth.
Next weekend’s Regatta is for the Guy Fawkes Trophy.
Start of Race 2 on Saturday (Black Flag):
Start of first race on Sunday:
Start of second race on Sunday:
Start of final race on Sunday: