Breaking the ice off the boats before launching for the oldest trophy of the Illusion Class – the Icebreaker – has often been necessary, however this year, conditions were reasonably warm with lots of sunshine and only light N/NNE breezes.
With the first race on Thursday programmed for 13:30 and little or no wind in the harbour, the decision to set a course off Silver Beach was an easy one to make. As an added Christmas bonus, Graham Sunderland had kindly agreed to come along to provide some on-water coaching; it was great to see him back at Bembridge.
After a short postponement, the first race started in 7 knots with Bruce Huber over cooking it and having to return to the pre-start side of the line.
Start of Race 1
It was good to see Mike Toogood & John Raymond rounding the windward marks first; also that Serena Gosling was third just ahead of Mark Downer with Bruce & Jo Downer not far behind. By the time they reached the windward marks again, Bruce had moved up to second and was champing at John’s heels. As they closed on the leeward gate, cries of ‘protest’ could be heard as Bruce powered into the lead and John stalled rounding the other gate mark; indeed by the time he crossed the finish line he missed out coming second by inches to Mark. Serena was fourth, again only by inches. Lower down the fleet, there was also some very close racing with Andy Christie just beating Bill Daniels, and at the back, only inches separated Charlie E-W, Olly L-S and Philip Russell.
The second race saw the 1st Sub having to be displayed as there were too many ‘over the line’ to make it a fair start.
Start of Race 2 (General Recall)
Flag U was brought into play for the second start; at the pin end Jonathan N-L got his timing spot on and crossed the line with inches to spare, as did Mark who was at the Committee Boat end.
Re-Start of Race 2 (Flag U)
It did not take long for the fleet to separate as they split tacks. John’s blue Illusion was the first to reach the windward marks and with Mark not that far away there was no let up on the run back to the leeward gate. Behind them Simon & Bruce traded gybes as they battled for third place with Bruce just taking it on the final tack to the line. There was a similar battle between Serena & Jo for sixth & seventh place just behind Andy who managed to stay ahead of them.
With the breeze looking as though it was going to die off, the length of the windward leg was reduced for the final race of the day. Bruce again over cooked it at the start and having had difficulty getting back, he was last to cross the line. Mind you it did not seem to matter as it did not take him long to get back into contention.
Start of Race 3
Indeed by the start of the third and final round, he had overtaken John and moved into second place behind Mark. Jonathan N-L had a good race and took fourth. Philip Russell and Mike Issiais tied in eighth place.
Still no ice on Sunday! Indeed, as the nineteen Illusions were being readied for the second day of the Icebreaker Trophy, there was hardly a breath of wind! However, as the boats began to launch, a gentle north westerly breeze began to establish itself and it was sensibly agreed that staying in the harbour was likely to offer the best racing.
The first race got away cleanly and it was not long before the fleet split tacks.
Start of Race 5
However, with the lead boats half way down the run, the breeze backed at least 30 degrees which meant that the windward marks would have to be moved if there was going to be a second round. In the event, this was not possible as there were a number of back markers who had still to complete the first leg as the lead boats, Mark, Jo and Mike Issiais were finishing their first round, so the race was cut short after just one round which was obviously a bit of a pity.
With the breeze holding reasonably steady and the course re-set, the second race saw another close but clean start.
Start of Race 5
Mark made it to the windward marks first closely pursued by Jo and Andrew Eddy; they, and the majority of the fleet, kept to the Embankment Road side of the course on the run to the leeward gate in the hopes of picking up the favourable current; meanwhile Bruce’s green spinnaker cut a lonely track on the opposite side of the course, however having picked up a better breeze he reached the leeward gate well ahead. He consolidated his lead on the second round with Mark having to be content with second ahead of Alastair Speare-Cole, Mike Toogood and Andrew. Alex Downer & David Peerless had an excellent duel and tied in eighth place.
The start of the third and final race of the day was another example of the quality of the Illusion racing at Bembridge.
Start of Race 6
Although most of the fleet stayed on starboard for as long as they could, a few tacked early in the hopes of finding clear air. Bruce rounded the windward marks in the lead with Alastair, David & Mark not far behind. However as the race continued into a third round, Bruce was able to extend his lead; on the final run Mark moved into third and despite Alastair’s best efforts to hold him off, he managed to keep his Illusion moving slightly faster to cross the line in second place.
Although both days could have done with a few more knots of breeze, there was still some excellent close racing. Congratulations to Bruce who won the Trophy on a count back; also to Mark who was second and Jo who was third. And all credit to David who came over from the mainland to race on the second day with his arm in plaster after breaking it on the first day of the Team Racing Championships in early December.
The next Regatta is for the January Jacket over the weekend of 5th & 6th January.
Additional photos can be found at flic.kr/s/aHsmp92pEG
by Mike Samuelson