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Bembridge Village Regatta

by Mike Samuelson 25 Jul 22:33 PDT 24-25 July 2021

Strong winds, thunder & lightening with torrential rain over night on Friday did not augur well for this year's Village Regatta linked to Bembridge Harbour Family Fun Weekend.

However, although there was still a bit of a swell and the odd spot of rain mid-morning, conditions improved as the programmed start time got closer and the big question was whether there would be enough breeze for racing. After a ten minute postponement to allow everyone to reach the start area and then a further ten minutes to reset the course & the line when the breeze veered from SE to SW, sixteen Redwings had a good start and had some close racing on the beat to Garland with the fleet splitting tacks.

Start of the Redwing Race on Saturday

Initially compressing on the long run to Ruthven the front three (Joe Robertson in Red Gauntlet II, Colin Samuelson in Toucan and Matt Alexander in Harlequin) picked up the breeze as it filled in from the SSE first so rounded ahead of the rest of the fleet. Fortunately there was just enough time for the course to be changed to Under Tyne, back to Ruthven and a finish at Fitzwilliam. With the breeze steadying at about eight knots and lots of sun, conditions were almost perfect. Red Gauntlet II led at Under Tyne with Toucan hot on their tail and it initially looked as if Joe was going to be able to hold Colin off, but on the last beat, Toucan got ahead and finished twenty seconds ahead. Matt in Harlequin almost made it into second but finished one second behind Joe in the closest of finishes. James Wilson in Quail was fourth.

Disappointingly there were only four One-Designs. After a clean start they all headed inshore and by the time they reached Garland, Charles Abel Smith in No 7, Simon Allocca in No 1 and new member Alan Marston helming No 10 with Charles Evans were well ahead of William Bland in No 12. Following the same course changes as the Redwings, it became a bit of a procession with Charles crossing the finish line at Fitz over a minute and a half ahead of Simon with Alan just under two minutes later.

It was great to see five Flying Fifteens from BHYC joining in the keelboat racing. Although they race on a handicap as they range in age and equipment, they clearly enjoyed the experience and will hopefully join in more races as the season hots up. After a clean start, Richard Coleman in 3674 soon established himself as the boat to beat and it was interesting to see how quickly he had overhauled the One-Designs, indeed whether he would overtake all the Redwings.

Start of the Flying 15s on Saturday

In the event he was the fifth boat to finish and was only two and a half minutes behind Toucan, but given the Redwings had started 10 minutes before the Flying Fifteens, he was first on elapsed time. Second was Roger Herbert in 3498 and third, after a rather odd start, was 3750.

Six Redwings stayed on for a second race, the Under 30 helm Chetwood Cup. After a 'no holds barred' start, the first to reach the windward mark, Tara, was Quail helmed by Arabella Wilson. Millie Morrison in Skua and Sam Powell in Gosling were not far behind, indeed nor were Xander Lacy-Smith in Redwing and Olivia Toogood in Tara. As the race progressed Arabella held onto her lead and Sam moved up into second place; Millie was third and Xander was fourth.

The prospect of getting a race on Sunday did not look promising as crews gathered at the Club late morning in pretty dismal, wet and windless conditions. However, thirteen Redwings and three One-Designs decided to at least give it a go. Programmed as the Redwing 'Edwardian Race' for the Bembridge Harbour Trophy, the race normally features crews dressing up and the course using buoys that would have been around pre-war. However, sadly the rain limited any enthusiasm to dress up and with lots of visitor traffic expected, racing into the harbour was clearly a non-starter. Initially a short multi-lap course starting at E with Fitzwilliam as the windward mark was announced, however as the start time got closer what little breeze there was became cyclonic and then dropped to less than one knot. After a half hour postponement and much discussion on the radio, eleven Redwings and two BODs made a joint running start and headed towards Janson.

Start of Sunday's combined start race

With a 5-6 knot southerly breeze appearing to settle, the initial two leg course was changed by the Race Officers dropping the inflatable as a spreader mark and the fleet then heading back to E. First round was Rory Morrison in Skua with James Wilson in Quail and Matt Alexander in Harlequin hot on his heels. The previous day's winner, Colin Samuelson in Toucan was seventh but by the time they reached E he had moved up into third place behind James & Rory. After another course change, they then went to Nainby before a final beat to the finish at Garland. Having moved up into second place on the broad reach to N after deciding not to use his jib pole, Colin then had James in his sights and with one tack to go moved ahead and crossed the line about a second in front. Rory held onto third and Matt was fourth. The two One-Designs, No 1 helmed by Russ Fowler and No 10 helmed again by Alan Marston had a very close race and although they were not that far behind the tail enders of the Redwing fleet, they decided to call it a day at E with Russ ahead by a mere three seconds.

Finally, this report would not be complete without a BZ (Naval shorthand for 'very well done') to Robin Ebsworth, who had his eighty second birthday last week and was sailing Quintessence single handed. Although coming in tenth, it was still amazing of him to even consider racing on his own.

Congratulations to Colin who won both Redwing Trophies over the weekend. Daily racing starts on Monday through to Bank Holiday Monday 30th August.

For additional photos please visit

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