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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

Bembridge Illusion Icebreaker 2023

by Mike Samuelson 31 Dec 2023 09:39 PST 30-31 December 2023

Having abandoned racing for the Christmas Cracker after just one race the previous day, and with the forecast suggesting it was going to be as windy, it was inevitable that on Saturday morning the Illusion Park was not full of eager sailors hoping to race for the Icebreaker Trophy; the oldest Regatta in the Illusion programme dating back to 1982.

However fourteen boats took to the water and although it was still averaging 20+ knots, by setting the course further up the harbour, the sea conditions were considerably easier to cope with than the previous day. The first race saw a clean start, albeit Jo Downer was very close to being called OCS.

Start of Race 1

The fleet quickly split on the beat. Bruce Huber was first round the windward mark and spreader with Mark Downer hot on his heels. Jo Downer was up there too and sensibly decided not to fly her spinnaker leaving it to others to risk broaching in the 25 knot gusts. On the second round Bruce consolidated his lead leaving it to Mark and Mike Toogood to battle it out for second and third. Jo was fourth and Justin Biddle was fifth.

Lots of shouting at the start of the second race; Olly Laughton-Scott was the only one OCS but as it was at the pin end he was able to circle round quite easily. At the other end of the line David Peerless and Mike Issaias had a slight altercation after David was forced to tack onto port to avoid Caroline Simonds!

Start of Race 2

Mark was first round the windward marks with Bruce, Jo (still deciding against using her spinnaker), David Russell-Jones and Mike T not far behind. On the third round David P, also deciding against using his spinnaker, made up a bit of ground and tied for fifth place with David R-J.

The third start saw most boats stacked up at the Committee Boat end of the line with calls for water as they all tried to cross the line.

Start of Race 3

Mark again lead at the windward marks with Jo and David P initially ahead of Bruce and Caroline. As the race unfolded Bruce moved up into second with Jo third and Mike T fourth.

With Sunday's forecast not looking very promising, it had been agreed that if the opportunity arose, there would be a fourth race to allow the discard to kick in. Again there were a few raised voices at the Committee Boat end of the line but no protests.

Start of Race 4

Mark lead the way but did not have it all his own way with David P moving into the lead as they crossed the line on completion of the first round. Bruce was never far away and took advantage of David taking a turn following an incident with Mark as they were approaching the leeward gate for the final time. Mike T was third and Mike I and David P tied for fourth.

1st Run Race 4

2nd Run Race 4

3rd Run Race 4

Some challenging racing and yet again the Illusion fleet demonstrated their ability to race in 20 knots in the middle of winter (even if its unseasonally mild)!

Sunday's forecast turned out pretty spot and although at times racing looked like being a possibility, the frequent squalls made the harbour look distinctly unfriendly so it was N over A for yet another day. This left Mark Downer picking up the Icebreaker Trophy for the 23rd time! Bruce Huber (who has won the trophy a number of times before) was second and Jo Downer was third.

Previous winners included Paul Newell (1982 & 1983), Rodney Pattison (1987 & 1989), Harold Cudmore (1999), Vernon Stratton (1988) and four time winner Graham Sunderland. The Trophy is a framed print presented by the artist Cavendish Morton of three Illusions sailed by John Corby, John Cleave and designer Joe Richards. Apparently John Corby and Joe had sailed down from Cowes and it took them six and a half hours to get back home again!

No racing next weekend; then its the Stratton Trophy the following one (13th & 14th January).

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4Pts
1Mark Downer16421113
2Bruce Huber10112225
3Jo Downer166433R10
4Mike Toogood142344411
5David Peerless140854312
6Mike Issiais152677417
7David Russell‑Jones155756617
8Hugh Doherty124988723
9Caroline Simonds67R910827
10Will Lowe15011109928
11Justin Biddle855RSS31
12Olly Laughton‑Scott8010RSS36

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