Winter in the UK – When only the foolhearty set sail

Published on November 4th, 2013

The winter season is when the Illusion class competes at Bembridge Sailing Club. Founded in 1886, this is one of the oldest sailing clubs in the United Kingdom, situated in Bembridge Harbour on the eastern end of the Isle of Wight.

Photo taken at the 2013 Guy Fawkes Trophy on November 2-3. Click here for more photos.  Event report below provided by Rudy Jurg, class press officer…

Guy Fawkes might have tried to blow up the House of Lords in 1605 the weather forecast also looked like it might blow out this weekend’s sailing. However like the gunpowder plot was foiled the weather which was forecasted did not happen either. With very early start of 0900 14 boats made it to the start line in a South Westerly Wind force 3-5. Racing was held inside the harbour, now well cleared of moored boats after the previous week storm. There was however a notable tide running through harbour and the ominous clouds produced some big wind shifts. The first start went off with a bang, with the left hand side of the course favoured due to incoming tide. Top sailor Graham Sunderland showed the way closely followed by Rudy Jurg and Robbie Southwell. The latter collided with Tom Wilson given the leaders free reign to go right again. On the downwind it was a dual between James Meaning, Rudy Jurg and Graham Sunderland which numerous place changes but eventually Graham Sunderland would take the victory home by a narrow lead.

In race two it was close again, the leaders staying in very close contact with lots of strategic tacking and gybing for best position. James Meaning however reads these variable conditions best and took the winners gun, with Graham Sunderland second and top result for Tom Wilson in third. The latter has been steadily improving over the past few seasons and no he will become a very competitive sailor will see more often on the leader board.

In race three the wind had started to pipe up and sailing became very wet and wild, however despite their very low freeboard these boats can handle big winds although some manual pumping is required. It was again Graham Sunderland who shot out of blocks. This time young Robbie Southwell was hot on the leaders heals relishing the strong wind. After a bad start Mark Downer sailed through the fleet to claim third.

Due to bad forecast for Sunday a fourth race was sailed. This was again won by Graham Sunderland. The increase in wind conditions however lead to a few retirements with gear damage. Despite the gusty conditions newcomers Carl Feeney and Robin Rotherwick had big smiles on their faces having made it to the finish line without any damage to their pride.

On Sunday there was a very strong wind, Westerly 5-6 with some strong squalls. After some deliberation a reduced fleet of 8 boats set out. A perfectly set out course by PRO Mike Samuelson made it a very memorable day. In these conditions its always Mark Downer who can be found out in front and sailed very cleanly away from the rest of the fleet. After having a difficult day on Saturday Jo Downer showed some real girl power and finished a very well deserved third place. In race two the wind was now a top end force 6 making sailing a challenge for any sailor. As in previous race the same names shot to the front again although plenty of hair raising rolls and broaches could be observed with some even opting to goose wing the genoa. After a very close race Graham Sunderland took the winners gun, Mark Downer second and wife Jo Downer third.

Overall winner of Guy Fawkes Trophy Graham Sunderland, second Mark Downer and after a bad day sailing on Sunday Rudy Jurg in third only beating Tom Wilson by two points.

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