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Bembridge Illusion Stratton Trophy 2020

by Mike Samuelson 9 Mar 2020 02:34 PDT 7-8 March 2020

After the last three weekends of strong winds, the SSW F3 breeze on Saturday morning made a pleasant change. Mind you with a 09:34 high water, and a 10:00 first start, it was always going to be touch and go as to whether the ROs could get four races completed just in case conditions on Sunday morning put paid to any further racing. In the event they just managed to get four, two round races completed before the water ran out.

Originally scheduled for a fortnight ago, there were 11 Illusions racing on Saturday for the Stratton Memorial Trophy that was first competed for in early March 2012. The first race saw Mark Downer and Raymond Simonds leading the way and never far apart throughout the two round race; indeed at the finish, Mark was less that half a boat length ahead. Mike Toogood was third and Philip Russell, back from his travels was fifth.

Mark dominated the second race with Raymond and Philip vying for second and third places with under a boat length separating them at the finish. Jo Downer was fourth and Alastair Speare-Cole was fifth. In the third race, John Raymond picked up a third just ahead of Alastair, but despite best efforts was unable to put either Raymond (who was second) or Mark under any serious pressure. Jo was fifth. The fourth and final race of the day saw a change at the top with Alastair and Jo both coming in ahead of Mark. Philip was fourth with John (fifth) and Raymond (sixth) only feet apart at the finish.

Slightly better tides on Sunday morning but with the forecast up to a F7 SWesterly, there was a distinct possibility that racing might have to be cancelled. However, although the Committee Boat had to move up the harbour to find some better protected water, three, three round races were able to be run. The first, after a fifteen minute postponement while the course was re-set, got away to a clean start.

Start of Race 5

Sadly John Birchenough's kicker broke just before the start so he had to retire back to the Club. Mark Downer was first to round the windward marks and he was the only one to subsequently risk flying a spinnaker. Raymond Simonds and Jo Downer led the chasing fleet and were never far apart. They were followed by John Raymond with Alastair Speare-Cole and Bill Daniels trading places with only inches separating them at the finish.

The second race started in 22 knots with Jamie Scrimgeour getting caught at the pin and obstructing a couple of boats as he tried to do a regain.

Start of Race 6

In the meantime, it was Jo followed by Raymond who were in the lead after the first beat. Mark was third and was the only one to fly his spinnaker in the gusty conditions. As the race progressed a few others decided to use their spinnakers on the downwind leg, but with occasional gusts of 25 knots, it was not long before they realised that goose winging was not only safer but just as fast. At the start of the third round Alastair unfortunately cut it too fine as he tried to pass round the bows of the Committee Boat and broke a cross tree when he caught his shroud on the protruding anchor and retired back to the Club. By the time he reached the windward mark on the third and final round, Mark had established a substantial lead ahead of Jo, Raymond and John; however he then had a 'senior moment' and failed to then round the spreader! Having thought about it after he had finished, he retired so everyone else moved up a place.

The breeze was a more manageable 16 knots for the start of the third race.

Start of Race 7

Raymond rounded the windward marks was well ahead of Jo, Mike Toogood and Andy Christie with Mark trailing in fifth. However by the time they were starting the second round, Mark had moved up to third behind Jo & Raymond. Having overtaken Raymond on the beat to the windward marks, the big question was whether he would also move ahead of Jo in the final two legs of the race. However Jo held her nerve and having made an excellent recovery after broaching with her spinnaker up, she came in first less than half a boat length ahead. Raymond was third and Andy was fourth.

Although initially it had been hoped to run a fourth race, there was a big black cloud looming and the tide was beginning to drop quite quickly, so it was decided to call it a day. A decision that was welcomed by most!

With 9 points to Raymond's 12 and Jo's 16, Mark therefore takes home the Ben Wood picture of the first run of the Stratton Trophy that was established in 2012 in memory of Vernon Stratton who had been so inspirational in all his efforts with the Illusion Class. For security, the main trophy, a silver Neff galleon, remains at the Club.

Next weekend's racing is for Bill's Barrel. Sadly the creator of this Regatta, Bill Daniel's will not be racing, but we are assured he will produce his normal 'wacky' Notice of Race and prizes from Goddards for the rest to enjoy.

Additional photos at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1Mark Downer16411131R29
2Raymond Simonds165222123312
3Jo Downer166645231116
4John Raymond1519635421129
5Mike Toogood142377795534
6Alastair Speare‑Cole13575415RS38
7Andy Christie14988101078445
8Philip Russell1534364SSS49
9Jamie Scrimgeour5015R9R1110859
10Bill Daniels68SSSS64866
11Mike Issaias152SSSS86769
12Olly Laughton‑Scott80101089SSS69
13John Birchenough37119118RSS71
14Owen Pay105SSSS1091077
15Monty Irwin147SSSSS7980

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