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Bembridge Illusion Bill's Barrel 2024

by Mike Samuelson 3 Mar 22:39 PST 2-3 March 2024

After another three days of rain and strong winds, it was a relief that Saturday afternoon's SW'erly F3 breeze with sunny patches proved to be almost perfect for the fifteen Illusionists who launched ready for this year's 'Bill's Barrel' weekend. Hopefully Bill will join in on Sunday.

The NoR - re-drafted by Bill every year allows the Race Committee a wide range of options so notwithstanding that it says (tongue in cheek) the briefing will be on completion of racing on Sunday, it was decided that it was worth agreeing a few key points before racing started like the number of races and the possibility of a running start for the fourth race!

After a short postponement, the first race got away reasonably smoothly but with three boats called as OCS. David Russell-Jones and Mark Downer with Will Lowe spotted by the RIB at the pin end. As can be seen from the video clip, the RO must have had a senior moment and got Mark & Will's grey boats mixed up!

Start of Race 1 Saturday

Having been told he was OCS Mark dutifully returned and without complaining headed off in pursuit of the rest of the fleet. He was subsequently offered redress but turned it down! Raymond Simonds with Jo Downer and Oliver Morgan not far behind lead the way and never looked liked being overtaken. With four races to fit in, it was decided to stop after two rounds. Recording the leaders was simple but it got progressively harder with some extremely close finishing lower down the fleet.

Mike Toogood, overcooked it at the start of Race 2 and Mark unaware of the redress for mistaken identity in the first race, played it safe mid fleet. Raymond, Oliver, Rory Morrison and David Russell-Jones were all very close with each of them out in front at some stage of the three round race. In the end, it was David who triumphed after spotting the wind shift on the final leg from the leeward gate; Raymond and Oliver finished close behind him and Rory was fourth. The start of the third race saw the 1st Sub being displayed as a good half the fleet were OCS. The second start under Flag U was still close with Raymond managing to just stay below the line, but it was certainly on just!

2nd Start of Race 3 Saturday

Mark lead the way with Matt Solan and David R-J not far behind.

Run during Race 3 Saturday

Sadly for Matt, his spinnaker sheet got caught under the boat and although he managed to finish, unlike Mike Issaias who went back to the crane to sort himself out, it was well done the order. Mark looked as if he had things sewn up, but David R-J somehow found the extra boat speed to finish well ahead at the windward mark after two and a half rounds. Owen Pay was third and Raymond was fourth. Rory and Alastair Speare-Cole tied for fifth.

The final race of the day had a running start with the red windward mark as the pin. The decision that the flying of spinnakers before the start was optional made for some interesting tactics particularly as it was another Flag U start. David Peerless's hull was the right side of the line when the hooter sounded, but what about his boom? Anyway, he got away with it and although he never looked like overtaking Mark, he managed to hold off challenges from Owen and Rory.

Start of Race 4 on Saturday

Sunday afternoon started with little of no wind, but in the hopes that the forecast SW'erly breeze would kick in as the afternoon wore on, the Race Officers decided to set the course off Silver Beach to make it easier to accommodate changes in direction. After a short postponement to let the light breeze to settle, the seventeen Illusions (including Bill using Mike T's boat) got away to a clean start.

Start of Race 1 (5) on Sunday

As so often the case it was Mark's grey spinnaker that was the first to fly after the windward spreader; it was soon obvious that Owen, Mike Issaias, Raymond, David R-J and Oliver were never going to even get close, so the race was finished after two rounds. Mid-fleet was tight with five boats finishing within feet of each other. For the start of the second race of the day, Mark decided to go for a port tack start close to the pin; in the event probably not one to be repeated!

Start of Race 2 (6) on Sunday

Raymond and Jo were first round the windward marks and although Raymond stayed ahead, Mark reeled him in on the second round, albeit not by enough to stop him winning the three round race. Alastair was third and Jo was fourth. With time ticking away, and the Race Officers keen to get four races in, the third race of the day, a two and a half rounds finishing at the windward mark, was started under Flag U.

Start of Race 3 (7) on Sunday

Raymond and Jo were initially the front runners but on the second beat Mark reeled them in and finished first. David P was fourth and Matt was fifth.

Like the previous day, the final race had a running start under Flag U - again it was quite a sight.

Start of Race 4 (8) on Sunday

David P lead until about half way up the final beat to the windward mark, but it was David R-J who worked the best way to go to finish and secure another win. Mark meanwhile had to be content with a third ahead of Owen and Raymond.

Two days of excellent racing. With no discards allowed under Bill's NoR, Mark and Raymond finished on equal points but with the former having more firsts, Bill's Barrel 2024 was added to his raft of trophies that he has won this season. David R-J was third. And everyone ended up with some bottles of Goddards Beer that Bill had kindly organised.

Its the Prince Philip Cup next weekend - early starts so numbers might be down a bit!

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1Mark Downer16413521121328
2Raymond Simonds1651249412528
3David Russell‑Jones15591158811144
4Owen Pay160473321013446
5Jo Downer16626711843950
6Alastair Speare‑Cole13581057536751
7Rory Morrison12054549771253
8Oliver Morgan1693311127610860
9David Peerless14012812210124262
10Matt Solan1066139812551169
11Mike Issaias152119R10311141087
12Mike Toogood/Bill Daniels14279861516171795
13Andy Christie1491011101317151514105
14Jonathan N‑Luxmoore158SSSS14986113
15Crispin Kenyon1251415131416171615120
16Eddie Warden‑Owen80SSSS1113916125
17Richard Ambler156SSSS13141213128
18Will Lowe150R141415SSSS138

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