THE first weekend of March served up tricky conditions for the 22 boats which competed in this year’s Illusion National Championship. Saturday dawned cold, with a fluky force 1-2 from the north to north east and racing taking place outside Bembridge Harbour.
Big wind shifts made it a game of snakes and ladders, but Graham Bailey and Rudy Jurg rose to the top to take first and second places in the first race.
Almost all the second race belonged to Bill Daniels, who took the far left corner of the first beat to arrive at the first mark with an impressive commanding lead. He maintained an advantage almost to the finish, where James Meaning just squeezed ahead.
Saturday’s final race favoured the pin end of the start line, with the two boats closest to that end — Meaning and Rupert Holmes — holding an invincible lead right through to the finish.
Sunday saw an easterly force 3-4, with many big windshifts. These conditions suited Mark Downer, who won the first race ahead of Meaning. Graham Bailey took the second race, ahead of Robbie Southwell who scored his best result so far at the event. Southwell went on to win the final race from Downer.
At the end of the event Meaning and Downer were tied on 12 points, with Meaning taking the title on count back.
Graham Bailey was third overall on 14 points. Despite the bitterly cold weather, close racing was enjoyed throughout the fleet, with for instance places 13-17 separated by only six points.
Thanks to all involved in organising the event, including race officers Jonathan Peel, Mike Samuelson and Tim Woodcock.
BRADING HAVEN YC
WITH only two more races in the club’s Icebreaker Series, Graeme Bowen looks almost unstoppable in defending his title when he secured a first and a second in last week’s races.
With a stiff Force 4 easterly providing a wind chill of -4c on the water it was not surprising to find only four Scows racing.
Whether it took a little time to warm up or whether it was the boisterous conditions, it was not all plain sailing for Bowen, who got off to a poor start in the first race but eventually he into his act moving past Martin Moore and Barry Dyer to take the gun just short of a minute ahead of a fast-finishing Moore, leaving Dyer to pick up the final slot flowing the retirement of Mike Bottoms with a rig failure.
The second race saw a slight drop in the wind strength resulting in the fleet taking slightly longer to complete the same course with some much tighter sailing throughout.
Bottoms, having sorted his rig problem added an additional element to the tactics, but it was Dyer who shook off all the strong challenges to take the gun only 18 seconds ahead of Bowen, while Bottoms made up for his problems in race one by keeping Moore at bay to take the bronze slot.
After a working party to prepare the club on Saturday, the new season kicked off on Sunday morning with the first race of the Early Bird series.
The starters took off to the east in a chilly and rising wind which proved too tasty for many as open water was reached, and in the cats all but Laurie Gustar and Paul Tanner headed back to the boat park.
Keith Hayden battled round to be the only finisher in the fast group, and other classes were similarly decimated by the hostile conditions, with several capsizes and retirements.
Derek Ness and Ben Symons led the remains of the medium group home in first place, followed by Chris Gillies and Giles Peckham.