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Bembridge Illusions opening weekend of the new winter season

by Mike Samuelson 14 Oct 08:18 PDT 12-13 October 2019

Although the opening weekend of the 2019-2020 Illusion season saw no wind on Saturday and nearly too much on Sunday, overall it was a great success!

Although one boat went for a drift around the harbour on Saturday morning, the rest decided that the best thing to do was to get their annual buoyancy tests done & dusted. Although there was a fair bit of water in some of the tanks, and there was a steady stream of people heading off to the Chandlery to get new seals for their inspection hatches, all passed!

Twenty 'new' or 'newish' helms had signed up for this year's "Invitation Day" on Sunday morning masterminded for the second year running by Olly Laughton-Scott. Given the pretty dismal wet & windy forecast it was hopefully the sign of great things to come that most of them even turned up and brimming with enthusiasm and saying that they were still game to give it a try!

After a briefing by the Class Captain, Mark Downer & Race Officer Mike Samuelson, sixteen Illusions were launched and made their was down to opposite Bembridge Outboards in the pretty breezy conditions (SSWesterly gusting F5!). After a period getting used to the boats, there were then a couple of practice starts, before the start of first of three races that it was hoped would be possible. Disappointingly Nick Rowton-Lee, out for his first sail in 73, his very smart refurbished Orange Illusion, had to return to the shore when he found that his steering bar was set too far away to allow him to control where he wanted to go!

Start of Race 1 (Sunday)

Giles Peckham in 80 and Rory Morrison in 163 were the first to round the windward mark with Simon Birchenough in 123 close behind. Sadly for Rory however, his steering bar came adrift so he had to retire. It was nip & tuck for third & fourth with Alex Locke in 501 (White) crossing the finish line after two rounds only inches ahead of Martyn Davis in 12. In view of the conditions and to keep things simple, it had been agreed that spinnakers would be left ashore, so whilst it certainly made life easier, it did reduce some of the challenge to sailing an Illusion!

Having sorted out his steering, Rory powered away from the line at the start of the second race hotly pursued by Giles, Martyn & Simon.

Start of Race 2 (Sunday)

With Giles ready to pounce if he made a mistake, Rory just managed to hold onto the lead and finished (after two rounds) a couple of boat lengths in front with Martyn in third. As is invariably the case in Illusion racing, there was plenty of close racing lower down the field. Indeed full credit to everyone racing - conditions were not easy, especially during the first round.

Things became a bit more manageable for the third and final race of the day; the rain stopped and although still quite gusty, the breeze dropped to around 12 knots. After another excellent start, 80 again became the boat to beat, however despite best efforts, the chasing fleet were unable to put Giles under much pressure over the three round race.

However, well done to Tim Haslam in 167 who settled into second place ahead of Simon in 123 and Rory in 163. As always with the Illusions its not all about being in the top three; there was some very close racing further down the fleet.

A great morning's sailing that amply rewarded all the hard work by the organiser, Olly. It was certainly encouraging to hear so many say "loved it, we will definitely be back".

Next weekend sees the first Regatta of the season - The 'Trafalgar Trophy'.

Overall Results: (top five)

1. Giles Peckham (80)
2. Simon Birchenough (123)
3. Martyn Davis (12)
4. Tim Haslam (167)
5. Alex Locke (501(W))
6. Rory Morrison (163)

Additional photos at

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