Please select your home edition
Edition
Clipper Ventures

Ghost Hunting

by David Henshall 7 Oct 12:00 BST
The Ghost being sailed with a conventional spinnaker was one of the fastest boats of the day © Gregory family

It is now many years since my first ever linked series of articles appeared in print, when I wrote for Dinghy Magazine about some of the dinghy classes that had been lost through time. The series opened with a question; "Have you seen a Ghost?".

I went on to explain that I wasn't looking for the headless helm of Hayling, but the Greg Gregory designed speed machine of that name. Older readers will recall the Ghost as a stunning, lean, all varnished hull topped with a high aspect rig that included a semi-fully battened mainsail. (there were plenty of examples of fully battened mains around, but the semi-hard/semi-soft was something on an innovation at that time). Even more striking was the spinnaker, which was cut more like an asymmetric and was set off a 9ft long pole. Back in these pre-carbon fibre days, getting the required strength into a pole that long, without making it overly heavy, was an issue for the builders and even more so for the crews.

The over long pole was just one of the problems for the Ghost, as the boat was also a handful to sail, despite the implied promise of stability in the hard chine hull. For those younger sailors who have never heard of a Ghost, the best and simplest description is of a 15ft Cherub and indeed the designer, Greg Gregory, had made his name designing and racing UK versions of the Antipodean 12 ft mini-rocket.

The Ghost though was far from being an ethereal spirit, but instead was one of the quickest boats on the water at that time. At Hamble River SC, where they had regular class racing for their Flying Dutchman fleet, the Ghosts joined in with them on a level basis and on their day could beat the FDs on the water. But for all of that, the Ghost was something of a one trick pony and would struggle to gain a critical mass of acceptance in the UK, where it also suffered from the application of a painfully harsh PY. It wasn't that the boat was overly radical, but it was years ahead of its time and was not what the UK scene was looking for. However, in Australia they had other ideas and recognised the value in the boat and the way it performed, creating a modest fleet presence there.

At home though the Ghost was admired for it's looks and envied for its performance, but otherwise ignored and as the sales dried up, the boat was already heading for that headline as a Lost Class. But from the historical perspective, the Ghost makes an interesting case study, for although it may appear something of an evolutionary dead-end, there was enough innovative thinking applied to the boat to make it well worthy of a detailed investigation.

The only problem with this approach is that there are few examples of the Ghost left to document. Years ago, there was one, stored in a garage near Chichester, where the owner was hoping to restore it, but more recent searches have drawn a blank as to its fate. Another boat was known to be out on the Essex/Suffolk borders, but that boat too has vanished from the radar.

Which leaves the intriguing story of just one more boat, believed to be in a well-preserved state, cared for in an underground storage area in Geneva. The beauty of this boat is that the location where it is stored is temperature controlled and as the last known Ghost made in the UK/Europe, included a great deal of correspondence between Greg Gregory and the owner. This boat was last heard of a decade ago and a lot can – and sadly often does - happen in that passage of time, which all too often equates to yet another loss of a piece of our sailing heritage.

So, the question must be asked again! Have YOU seen a Ghost? Do you know of one, or have you heard of someone who has access to one and who would be prepared to let the boat be examined and photographed, so at least some detailed record of this exciting boat will be saved?

We can but hope that someone, somewhere, can shed some light on this topic and if one can be found, you'll be able to read about it here.

Related Articles

My first season foiling by Keith Bedborough
'Wouldn't it be a laugh if we all got one of these?' As I'm sure many others in the sailing world will relate, I was suitably amazed by the spectacle of the foiling cats in the last two America's Cups and this ignited a spark within me to learn more about this exciting new type of sailing. Posted on 7 Dec
Kindly Leave the Stage
What happens to ex-Olympic classes? The Carnival is over...but the Show must go on! These comparisons with a circus have never been stronger, all the more now that the Finn has been told to "kindly leave the stage", with the Olympic Regatta at Enoshima bringing an end to 72 years service. Posted on 3 Dec
From surfer to Round the World Race winner
We speak to Clipper Race skipper Wendy Tuck We talked to Wendy Tuck, winner of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race who is also the first female skipper ever to have won a round the world race of any type. She has also recently been awarded Australian Sailing's Female Sailor of the Year. Posted on 29 Nov
Collaboration and evolution
Lifejacket features improve, safety message is reinforced At the METS 2018 marine trade fair we spoke to Nigel Parkes from Crewsaver, Tom Harrop from Exposure Lights / OLAS and Alan Roberts, their sponsored dinghy and offshore sailor. Posted on 27 Nov
Get the underside of your boat feeling fruity
We speak to Andy Yeomans of Grapefruit Coatings and Sébastien Charles of RENOLIT We spoke to Andy Yeomans of Grapefruit Coatings and Sébastien Charles of RENOLIT about the RENOLIT DOLPHIN S coating which substantially limits growth on the underside of your hull. Posted on 23 Nov
Spinlock's DAME Award winning Sail-Sense
We talk to Ash Holmes about the device and app YachtsandYachting.com spoke to Ash Holmes at the METS 2018 marine trade fair, about the DAME Award that Spinlock have just won in the marine electronics category. Posted on 22 Nov
The Logistics Genie: We speak to JT of GAC Pindar
Recently back from the huge logistical challenge of the Volvo Ocean Race We spoke to Jeremy Troughton - universally known as 'JT' - General Manager of Marine Leisure and Events at GAC Pindar, who has recently come back from the huge logistical challenge of the Volvo Ocean Race. Posted on 20 Nov
Sail Away with Sunsail's Yacht Ownership Programme
We catch up with Julian Adams to find out more about their unique scheme Sunsail are well-known for their award-winning yacht charter holidays, but fewer people realize they sell boats too! We caught up with Julian Adams from Sunsail's ownership programme and found out more about their unique take on yacht ownership. Posted on 19 Nov
Robin Clegg on microplastics and the VOR
An interview with Robin Clegg about microplastics and the Volvo Ocean Race's Sustainability Program I checked in with Robin Clegg, who handles sustainability communications for the Volvo Ocean Race, via email, to find out more about microplastics, the VOR's Sustainability Program, and the results that this forward-leaning program delivered. Posted on 14 Nov
DAME Awards special mention for Scanstrut
We speak to Grant Fox about Scanstrut's new products At the METS 2018 marine trade fair we spoke to Grant Fox, Marketing Manager at Scanstrut, who were nominated at this year's show for a DAME award, and received a special mention in the design category for their wireless charging products. Posted on 14 Nov