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Bembridge Illusion Christmas Cracker 2023

by Mike Samuelson 29 Dec 2023 21:35 PST 28-29 December 2023

The prospect of four days racing at Bembridge between Christmas and the New Year was certainly something that the Illusion fleet was eagerly looking forward to, but sadly Storm Gerrit upset the apple cart with no racing at all on Thursday and only one race on Friday for the Christmas Cracker.

Having cancelled Thursday's racing due to the gale force SW'erly winds, the plan was to have four races on Friday. Fourteen boats launched and made their way to the start line that had been set up to provide a good long beat to the windward marks. After a short postponement and with sea conditions beginning to deteriorate as the breeze increased, the first start saw too many boats OCS for it to be fair to all, so they were bought back with a General Recall.

Start of Race 1 (Friday)

The re-start under Flag U was much better although there was a bit up bumping between a few boats at the pin end of the line. Bruce Huber's green spinnaker was the first to fly after rounding the spreader; Mark Downer was next round with Oliver Morgan, Caroline Simonds and Jo Downer not far behind. Gusts of 25 knots made for some exciting downwind sailing and although there were no catastrophic broaches, most were very relieved when they managed to get their spinnakers safely down. On the second beat Bruce filled up and although able to continue after lots of pumping, there was no way he was going to be able to catch Mark so he bailed out and headed back to the Club to see if he could resolve the problem with his electric pump.

In the meantime, Mark played safe and having not risked his spinnaker as the breeze gusted 26+ knots finished safely ahead of Oliver and Caroline. By now, conditions were becoming more about survival than tactical racing so well done to the six other boats who finished, in particular young Henry Landon sailing the loaner boat Illustration.

With the safety RIB crewed by Laurence Blackburn and Charlie Egerton-Warburton in hot demand and the sea conditions in the start area at the top end of safe sailing, the decision was made to abandon further racing so it was back to the Illusion Quay with just the one race counting for the trophy.

The forecast for the next two days for the Icebreaker Trophy is not looking too promising; but fingers crossed.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1Pts
1Mark Downer16411
2Oliver Morgan16922
3Caroline Simonds6733
4David Peerless14044
5Jo Downer16655
6Alastair Speare‑Cole13566
7Olly Laughton‑Scott8077
8Mike Issaias15288
9Henry LandonIll99
10Mike Toogood142R15
10Bruce Huber101R15
10Hugh Doherty124R15
10Will Lowe150R15
10Anna Row91R15

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