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Bembridge Illusion Valentine Trophy 2024

by Mike Samuelson 11 Feb 15:12 PST 10-11 February 2024

After another week of wet and windy conditions, the weather window over the weekend for the Valentine Trophy was certainly a relief. Mind you on Saturday, the main concern was whether there was going to be enough wind to make racing viable.

In the event and after just over half an hour postponement, seventeen Illusions were very well behaved and the first of three races got away cleanly. Mark Downer risked a port tack 'flyer' and was clear ahead as the fleet split tacks as they headed southwards towards the windward and spreader marks.

However, on the run to the leeward gate John Raymond picked up some helpful zephyrs and was the first to clear the gate. Over the next two rounds he continued to pick the best way to go and finished well ahead of Mark; Jo Downer was third and Matt Solan was fourth. There was another clear start for Race 2. Jo was first round the windward marks with Rory Morrison not far behind.

On the first run, it was Mark who found the best of the breeze and took over the lead from Jo and finished well ahead leaving Jo and Rory to fight out who was going to be second and third. Although less than half a boat length separated them, it was Jo who took second when they crossed the finish line after three rounds. Mid fleet Rosie Gosling, Andy Christie and Matt finished with less than a boat length between them.

With the breeze varying in strength and flicking 25+ degrees at times, it was slightly surprising that that the third and final race of the day saw another clean start.

Mark was at the pin end the line and before long was well out in front. Owen Pay and Monty Irwin lead the chasing fleet but as the leaders moved into the third round it was clear that they were never going to catch Mark; by the finish Owen had moved into second place ahead of Monty. Rory was fourth and Richard Ambler was fifth. John, the winner of the first race retired and headed back to the dock having in his own words "transgressed on more than one occasion".

With BHYC keen to make full use of the harbour for their Frostbite races on Sunday, the decision was made to take the thirteen Illusions outside off Silver Beach to make the most of the F3-F4 North Westerly breeze and sunny periods. Although the video makes it look a bit marginal, no-one was called OCS and at the windward mark Mark & Jo were neck and neck well ahead of Rory, Rosie, Oliver, Serena and Owen.

The second round saw Mark move well ahead of Jo, who in the meantime extended the gap between herself and Rosie & Oliver. Rory dropped back nursing a problem after his spinnaker halyard got caught up in his genoa swivel. It was good to see Serena in her brand new Illusion take fifth just ahead of Mike Issaias. With the breeze backing more westerly and so as not to waste time moving the windward marks, it was decided to change the course to a starboard rounding with the green spreader becoming the windward mark, and the red windward mark becoming the spreader!

Much to some helms surprise it actually worked quite well and there were no obvious pile ups. After another marginally clean start, it was Jo's turn to lead the way.

Initially the lead boats behind her were Rosie, Oliver, Mark and Andy Christie, however during the second round, Mark moved into second. But Jo held her nerve and managed to hold him off. Oliver was third and Rosie fourth.

After a quick move of the windward marks, it was back to port rounding for the third and final race of the day. Well spread out along the line with Mark close to the Committee Boat and tacking early made it look as if the right side of the course was the way to go, however first to reach the windward mark were Owen, Rory & Oliver with a gap to Rosie, Mark, Jo and Richard Ambler.

With the breeze flicking 20 degrees at times, it was always going to be a bit of a lottery. Indeed rounding the leeward gate for the third time, it looked as if Oliver was going to pick up his first first place of the weekend but it was not to be and much to his disappointment he finished fourth behind Owen, Rory and Andy.

With a number of the more vociferous helms elsewhere in the world, it was a very peaceful weekend! Congratulations to the Valentine Downers who were overall first and second. Rory was third and Owen was fourth a point ahead of Oliver.

No racing next weekend; the one after (24th & 25th February) is the National Championships with the annual Class Dinner on the Saturday evening.

Additional photos: flic.kr/s/aHBqjBdNe9

Overall Results:

PosnSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Final Total
1164Mark Downer2111267
2166Jo Downer331121514
3120Rory Morrison72486221
4160Owen Pay1042710124
5169Oliver Morgan96843425
6130Rosie Gosling118734931
7149Andy Christie13912125341
8122Serena Gosling81310571141
9152Mike Issaias1716668743
10156Richard Ambler121451091046
11147Monty Irwin673SSS52
12136Simon Birchenough161214911854
13155David Russell‑Jones559SSS55
14106Matt Solan41013SSS63
1512Robin Ebsworth14151611121264
16151John Raymond111RSSS66
17150Will Lowe15171513131369

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