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Bembridge Illusion St George's Day, Woodford Long Distance Race and Bill's Barrel

by Mike Samuelson 2 May 2021 23:08 PDT 1-2 May 2021

Saturday, the penultimate day of racing of the 2020-2021 Illusion season was a frustrating one! The forecast was for light cyclonic conditions and that was exactly what was delivered!

Having made the decision to remain in the harbour to reduce interference with BHYC's racing, the race officers then spent the best part of an hour chasing the breeze as it went round all points of the compass with the 16 Illusions dutifully following the Committee Boat round the harbour (avoiding the Border Force mega RIB that had run aground just inside the harbour entrance!) However a start was eventually achieved when the breeze looked to have settled in from the North East.

Start of the first race on Saturday

Bruce Huber was first round the windward marks chased by Raymond Simonds and Graham Sunderland in his recently refurbished boat. As they came back up through the line from the leeward gate, the breeze backed 45 degrees and the beat to the windward marks became a close reach for most. However with the fleet well spread out, moving the marks was not possible so it was decided to finish after 2 rounds. Although Bruce found a hole that put paid to his lead, Raymond and Graham took finished ahead of David Peerless and John Raymond.

With the breeze remaining so unstable it was decided to make the second race the longer distance race to also count for the Woodford Trophy. Set a running start with Nainby as the distant mark, the fleet headed out the harbour to then have the breeze die and the turning mark changed to Pepe. With the right side of the run appearing to work best, first to round was Richard Ambler with Monty Irwin, David Peerless and David Russell-Jones not far behind.

The beat back into the harbour was certainly 'interesting' with David P dropping a few places after he ran aground coming back into the harbour. The front two maintained their nerve and eventually ghosted across the line ahead of Bruce with Philip Russell fourth. Mid fleet Colin Simonds just pipped his wife Caroline! Having got everyone back into the harbour and with the breeze appearing as elusive as earlier in the afternoon, the decision was made to abandon further racing. Typically not long afterwards, a sailable breeze set in!

The points for the two races put Bruce and John Raymond level on 9 apiece with Bruce coming out ahead on the count back. Richard was third and also picked up the Woodford Long Distance Trophy.

Sunday's forecast was slightly more promising and by mid-afternoon there was a gentle SW'erly. Twelve boats headed out of the harbour for the 4 race, no discard, Bill's Barrel. The first race got away to a clean start; Colin Simonds was first to reach the windward marks and it was great to see Andy Christie mixing it with the other front runners. Colin soon developed an unbeatable lead but well done to Andy who took second ahead of Julia.

Start of first race on Sunday

After a rapid course re-configuration when the breeze veered to the West, the second race saw Richard Ambler over cooking the start and having to return to the pre-start side of the line. Julia Bailey got everything right and established an unbeatable lead ahead of Colin and David Peerless. Raymond was fourth.

Start of the second race Sunday

With the sun shinning and the breeze increasing to F3, conditions for the third race were almost perfect. After a very close start with a lot of cries of 'up, up' mid-line, much to his delight, John Birchenough was the early leader but sadly for him, he messed up the spinnaker drop at the leeward gate and dropped back. Raymond took over the lead on the second round and held onto it through to the finish after three rounds. Julia was second and much to her delight, Caroline finished third, two places ahead of her husband!

Start of the third race Sunday

Chaos reigned close to the pin end of the line at the start of the fourth and final race, so the First Sub brought them back for a second shot.

First start of fourth race on Sunday

The re-start under Flag U left little room for error and probably should have seen at least a couple of disqualifications, but it was after all the last race of the season!

Re-start of fourth race on Sunday

The first round was a Simond's benefit round with Colin in front, Raymond a close second and Caroline not far behind in third. In the spirit of Bill's Barrel after two rounds the fleet headed back to a finish in the harbour and it was a very jubilant Colin who took his second win of the day with Raymond second, Julia third and Owen Pay fourth.

Overall, this saw Colin and Julia both on 9 points, but with two firsts to Julia's one first, the Trophy was Colin's. Raymond was third and David P was fourth.

Hopefully by October the new 'normal' will be with us and we can look forward to a full winter 2021-2022 season. In the meantime, good luck to everyone and have a great summer.

Additional photos at

St George's Day & Woodford Long Distance Race Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2Pts
1Bruce Huber101639
2John Raymond151459
3Richard Ambler1569110
4Raymond Simonds1651910
5David Peerless1403811
6Colin Simonds1387613
7Philip Russell15310414
8David Russell‑Jones15551116
9Simon Irwin14715217
10Graham Sunderland212R19
11Caroline Simonds98613720
12John Birchenough37121022
13Mike Issaias152111324
14Oliver Morgan1868R25
15Andy Christie149141226
16Simon Birchenough13616R33

Bill's Barrel Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4Pts
1Colin Simonds13812519
2Julia Bailey15731239
3Raymond Simonds165741214
4David Peerless140638522
5Caroline Simonds986853723
6Andy Christie1492126626
7Owen Pay10541012430
8Richard Ambler1565791031
9John Birchenough371267934
10Olly Laughton‑Scott80101141136
11Simon Birchenough1369811836
12Mike Issaias152119101242

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