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Bembridge Illusion Icebreaker Trophy

by Mike Samuelson 29 Dec 2019 23:51 PST 28-29 December 2019

It was unusually mild and there was certainly no sign of any ice over the weekend for this year's Icebreaker Trophy; the oldest trophy in the Bembridge Illusion winter programme. On Saturday morning 22 boats headed out of the harbour in the hopes that the gentle F2 SSE'erly breeze would settle and provide some close racing.

In the event, after a 15 minute delay to allow the late launchers to reach the start area, the first race got away with 3 boats over cooking it (Mike Toogood, Will Toogood and John Raymond) and having to find their way back through the melee.

Start of Race 1

Start of Race 1 (drone)

Having spotted better pressure on the right of the course, David Peerless was first to round the windward mark with Andy Christie not far behind. Justin Biddle led the chasing group with Alastair Speare-Cole and Raymond Simonds ready to pounce.

Windward Mark & the run (drone)

David remained in the lead for the first two rounds, however Andy overtook him on the third beat and although under pressure, he held his nerve and crossed the line in front of Justin, who much to David's chagrin managed to squeeze him out into third place on the short beat back from the leeward gate. Raymond was fourth only a boat length behind.

Father (Mike) and son (Will) Toogood again pushed their luck too far at the start of the second race and had to extract themselves from the middle of the line before they could re-start.

Start of Race 2

Alastair meanwhile made an excellent pin end port 'flyer' that soon took him to the better breeze on the right of the course and into a significant lead ahead of Jo Downer and John Raymond. However, he had a senior moment approaching the leeward gate and rather than going through the middle of it, rounded the left hand mark to starboard and instead of unwinding, proceeded to round the right hand mark also to starboard. Unaware of his error, he continued the race and crossed the finish line after three rounds in front, however having had it pointed out that he had failed top sail the correct course, he retired. This gave Jo the win, with John in second ahead of David, Mark and Philip Russell who all finished inches apart.

Despite the breeze holding up, it remained very variable and with the tide starting to have some effect, the start of the third and final race of the day saw quite a contingent going for a pin end port tack start.

Start of Race 3

Alastair was again first to round the windward mark, but it was not long before Mark took over the lead and never looked back. Sadly for John Raymond in his 'Father Christmas' hat, his steering system failed and despite his best efforts to sort it out, he ended up retiring and heading back into the harbour. With the swell beginning to increase and the breeze off Silver beach coming and going, it became a bit of a lottery, however although Mark's first place was secure, second to fourth was extremely close with Justin just making it over the line ahead of Colin Simonds and Mike Toogood.

As initially it looked as though the breeze on Sunday morning was from the SW, it was decided to race in the harbour rather then head outside. In the event it quite quickly backed to the South, and although this meant that the course was quite short, it actually allowed some excellent close racing.

Despite rather a lot of shouting, the first race of the day got away to a clean start.

Start of Race 4

John Raymond was first round the windward mark with Mike Toogood and Raymond Simonds in hot pursuit. As the race unfolded, the fleet split nearly 50/50 to the left & right sides of the course as they sought out the stronger pressure. Raymond took over the lead in the second round but was unable to hold off Mike & Mark who both overtook him during the third round. John was fourth and Bill Daniels was fifth.

Colin Simonds, at the pin end, nearly over cooked the start of the fifth race but it was a long line so he was given the benefit of doubt!

Start of Race 5

Although Raymond's white and red spinnaker was first to fly after the spreader, Justin, Richard Ambler (in his second race of the season), Colin and Mark were not far behind. The second round saw Raymond extend his lead and Mark take over as the head of the chasing group. However, on the third beat, Justin managed to get himself into second and despite Mark's best efforts held on to the finish. Colin was fourth. Mid-fleet there were a number of very close finishes.

With the breeze flicking 15+ degrees at times during the start sequence of the sixth and final race, it was not a great surprise when the General Recall was displayed after nearly half the fleet at the pin end of the line found themselves OCS.

Start of Race 6

After a rapid course tweak, the second start, with Flag U as the preparatory signal, was almost picture perfect with Owen Pay only inches off being disqualified!

Re-start of Race 6

The surprise leader at the windward mark was beginner Alex Toogood and although she managed to hold onto the lead to the leeward gate, sadly she slipped down the order as the race progressed. Raymond took over in front but had to concentrate hard to hold off a challenge from Mark. Only inches separated Justin, Jonathan N-L and Philip Russell when they crossed the line to take third, fourth and fifth.

Frustrating racing at times, but there can't be many other one-design fleets in the Solent at this time of year who had 22 or 23 boats out racing! Congratulations to Mark who was the overall winner with 12 points; also to Raymond who was second with 15 points and Justin who was third, also with 15 points.

Normal fleet racing over the next two days (30th & 31st December) leading up to the New Year. After that its the 'January Jacket' over the weekend of 11th & 12th January.

Drone video by Oliver Nainby-Luxmoore.

Additional photos by Mike Samuelson, John Birchenough & James Row at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Mark Downer164104123212
2Raymond Simonds165411631115
3Justin Biddle10626282315
4Colin Simonds138693114628
5Philip Russell153115976532
6John Raymond151132R471137
7Alastair Speare‑Cole1355R71010840
8Owen Pay1051271268740
9Mike Toogood14216114117941
10Andy Christie149110131791043
11David Peerless140331413121645
12Jonathan Nainby‑Luxmoore1588R81511446
13Bill Daniels6871310513S48
14Jo Downer16691119R2252
15Olly Laughton‑Scott8015131720191579
16Hugh Doherty1241716R14141879
17Richard Ambler156SSS1251283
18Mike Issiais15218171816181987
19Rory Morrison12014165SSS89
20John Birchenough13021151622211790
21Will Toogood14719181518202190
22Andrew Neil80SSS191520108
23Alex Toogood125SSS212213110
24Robin Ebsworth12SSSR1614111
26Jos Laughton‑Scott80R20RRSSS128

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