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Bembridge Illusion Stratton Memorial Trophy 2022

by Rory McGuffin & Mike Samuelson 21 Mar 01:56 PDT 19-20 March 2022

A cloudless sky and brisk but gusty E/ENE F4 breeze greeted eighteen Illusionist early on Saturday morning as they rigged their boats up ready to do battle for this season's Stratton Memorial Trophy. All they needed was enough water to launch and to cover the sand bank in the middle of the harbour given that conditions outside the harbour were not very friendly!

After nearly an hour's postponement as the tide was slow to make, the first race got away to a good clean start with all boats spread across the start line. Mark Downer was first to round the windward mark followed closely by Rory Morrison.

After a fast run down the first downwind leg with lots of gybing, Mark entered the leeward gate first followed closely by Rory and David Peerless. The port side of the course was favoured as the wind swung the right for a period causing the fleet to split in two. All the boats who went left gained ground. By the finish Mark had built up a 5 boat length lead ahead of David and Rory. Colin Simonds was fourth.

Following a slight tweak to the course to make it a bit longer, the second race saw another good clean start by all boats. Mark, Rory along with Julia Bailey & David P pulled out a good lead from the rest of the fleet. As always some close racing in the middle the fleet (Mike Toogood, Simon Birchenough, Olly Laughton-Scott and David Russell-Jones in particular). with positions changing on each leg. Mark crossed the line first with an extended lead over the others. Rory was second, Julia third and Colin fourth. Owen Pay finished the race under genoa only after his main halyard snapped.

With the windward marks not far from the Illusion Quay, it made sense to finish the third and final race of the day at the windward mark after three and a half rounds. Although Mike Toogood was the wrong side of the line just before the start, he managed to duck to make it another clean start. Mark, Rory and Julia were soon out in front and as the race progressed, Mark was able to extend his lead and by the finish was at least a minute ahead of Julia and Rory. Again the mid-fleet enjoyed some very close racing with Mike Toogood, Simon, David and Oliver Morgan finishing close together. It was not Colin's best race! He had a dispute with a mooring on the third round and ground to a halt and then once clear he initially went the wrong side of the spreader so had to correct himself!

Three challenging but enjoyable races with Mark's 164 going into Day 2, definitely the boat to beat!

Although still predominantly from the East, Sunday's breeze was not as strong as Saturdays and with hardly a cloud in the sky, nineteen boats took to the water for races four, five and six. Absent were Julia and Monty but it was good to see three additional boats out racing, Bruce, Alastair, and Andy. After another postponement waiting for the tide to make, the first race saw the fleet well spread along the line; Owen Pay over cooked it and had to return. Mark and Bruce rounded the windward mark together with David R-J close behind. Over the next two and a half rounds they opened up a substantial lead. Mid-fleet Mike Toogood and Jonathan N-L were very close and Owen picked up five places to finish eleventh.

It was another good start for the fifth race and it was Bruce's green spinnaker that was first to appear on the run; David P was next and much to her surprise Anna Row was third just ahead of Mark. Although sadly she was unable to keep up her progress and slipped gracefully down the fleet. Out front, Mark, Bruce and David had a very close race with Bruce coming out on top and David beating Mark by a bow fender. David R-J meanwhile retired after 1 round as he had a three line whip to go out to lunch!

Start of Race 5 (Sunday)

Run Race 5 (1)

Run Race 5 (2)

During the first start sequence for the sixth and final race of the day, the breeze veered 20 degrees so the AP was displayed so that the pin could be adjusted. The subsequent start saw a number of boats almost OCS at the Committee Boat end of the line, however the X Flag remained furled.

Start Race 6 (Sunday)

Bruce was again first round the windward mark with Mark close behind - indeed on the run to the leeward gate, they were side by side.

Run Race 6

After a further wind shift the windward marks were moved closer to the end of the Redwing Quay and the leeward marks tweaked to provide a fairer beat and run. Bruce read the windshifts best and finished in front at the windward mark after three and a half rounds. Second place was all to play for and although it could have been any of the following three, Mark's greater knowledge of 'shooting' the line put him inches ahead of Alastair with David P having to make do with a fourth.

Excellent racing and another Trophy that bears Mark's name on it yet again! It might of course have been a closer run thing if Bruce had been able to race both days, but sadly he couldn't. David P was the runner-up and Rory was third.

No racing next weekend as the tides are not right; the weekend after we have the Spring Plate.

Additional photos at

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Mark Downer1641111326
2David Peerless14025442416
3Rory Morrison12032354717
4Colin Simonds138441366525
5Mike Toogood10567913633
6Jonathan N‑L15881017105841
7Oliver Morgan1697171089943
8Simon Birchenough13667617151347
9Bruce Huber101SSS21148
10Olly Laughton‑Scott8011881581550
11Robin Ebsworth129141612101257
12David R‑J15516993RS59
13Owen Pay1051212S11111460
14Alastair Speare‑Cole135SSS77361
15Julia Bailey1571732SSS66
16Matt Solan10613181516121167
17Monty Irwin14710115SSS70
18John Birchenough3715151113181771
19Mike Issaias15214131219161671
20Anna Row80a18161414171879
21Andy Christie149SSS18141086

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