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The finals of this year’s Bembridge Illusion Inter Club Team racing went to the wire with the BSC team of Bruce Huber & James Meaning beating the RVYC team of Mark & Jo Downer by the narrowest of margins in the best of five race finals raced over the weekend in Bembridge Harbour.

Although a number of last minute changes had to be made to the Race Management and Umpire team due to ill health, clearly the sailors are made of hardier stuff, so it was good to see the full complement of eight two boat teams at the briefing at BSC on Saturday morning. After a short postponement to allow the tide to cover the sandbank in the middle of the harbour, racing got away in the cold easterly F4, gusting F5 occasionally F6 breeze. The results of the traditional round robin races on the first day with every team racing racing each other were mostly as expected although there were a few surprises; however it came as no surprise that the top four teams after the 28 races were Mark & Jo Downer (RVYC – 7 wins), Bruce Huber & James Meaning (BSC – 6 wins), Raymond & Colin Simonds (SVYC 1 – 5 wins) and Bill Daniels & George Downer (ISC – 4 wins). In fifth position was the Army Sailing Association team of David Peerless & Andy Snell and sixth equal were the BHYC team of Mike Toogood & Hugh Doherty & the SVYC 2 team of Guy Mattinson & David Russell-Jones.

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With the BHYC team & the Thames team of Andy Christie & Richard Ambler unavailable to race on Sunday, there was considerable discussion in the bar after racing as to how the ASA & SVYC 2 who had not qualified for the semi-finals could get the most out of Day 2. Consideration was given to running a second round robin, however in the end it was decided that they would race each other until the other teams freed up.

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In bright sunshine and a slightly reduced easterly breeze, Sunday’s racing got off to a brisk start once the tide had come in sufficiently. In the first semi-final, the RVYC team of Mark & Jo Downer were never under great presssure against the ISC team of their son George & Bill Daniels and won the match with two straight wins. In the second semi-final, the first race was very close with the BSC team of Bruce Huber & James Meaning coming in just in front of Raymond & Colin Simonds, however in the second Colin had to take a penalty after starting and despite enthusiastic blocking tactics by Raymond was unable to get back into the fray, leaving a second win by the BSC team inevitable.

The Downer’s took first blood in the first race of the best of five finals after Bruce had to take an early penalty, however the BSC team then took the next two races to go into the lead 2-1. The fourth race was so close that the Race Committee had some difficulty deciding the winner, however in the end all agreed that Bruce had been the last boat to cross the finish line albeit by the narrowest of margins. In the final race, the Downer’s looked as if they had the upper hand coming into the leeward mark, however some canny tactics by the BSC team put them into a strong position at the final windward mark and despite Mark & Jo doing their utmost to catch them on the final run, they held their nerve and finished inches ahead to win three races to two.

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In the best of three plate final the Simond’s were just too strong for the ISC team of George & Bill and won two nil. That said it was not all plain sailing and it was certainly not a white wash, so well done to the scratch ISC team.

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In the meantime, David Peerless & Andy Snell (ASA) had a lot of fun racing initially against the SVYC 2 team of David Russell-Jones & Guy Mattinson (who they beat two one), and then subsequently against the Simond’s and the ISC team.

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All in all, a great weekend’s racing. Congratulations not only to Bruce & James who won, but also to Mark & Jo, and Raymond & Colin who were the runners up and winners of the plate respectively. However, none of it could have taken place with the support from the Umpires, Penny Carter, David Lees, Robert Lidbury & Alexis Dogilewski assisted by James Row, Hugh Doherty & Philip Russell, and the Race Committee of Mike Samuelson, Robin Ebsworth, Amanda Bunbury and the brilliant time keeping of Hugh Eddowes.

 Finals – third race I think! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weWbKjdsJuI

Finals – fourth race – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlQSjr5fA34

Finals – fourth race finish – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0bufwGIVkg

Finals – fifth race – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrH0bZ9_X9s