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Optimum Time Watches Phantom Southern Travellers at Salcombe Yacht Club

by Richard Cumberbatch 8 Oct 2018 14:42 BST 6-7 October 2018

The growing Phantom fleet at Salcombe Yacht Club welcomed 7 visitors for their inaugural Phantom open meeting sponsored by Salcombe Breweries over the weekend of 6th and 7th October, which served as round 8 of the Southern Travellers Series.

In the morning local sailor Alister Morley arranged a rib ride for the visitors around the estuary to view the racing area. Upon their return the reports of the conditions seemed to affirm the forecast of mid 20 kts with gusts of mid to high 30's. The view of some locals was that in reality, strength was likely to be circa 5 kts less, so 6 visitors with 4 local boats took to the water.

Whether it was really 5 kts less is up for debate, and the location of the purported 42kt gust recording remains to be confirmed. Nonetheless, it was windy.

After multiple pre-start capsizes the fleet took off up the estuary. Alister Morley led the way to take the bullet, Jim Hopton visiting from Shustoke came in second, and local Paul Ellis was third. Further behind breakages, failures and fear saw 3 boats fail to finish.

Following a great first beat leading towards the windward mark, and a cunningham failure for visitor Paul Birbeck of Wimbleball, race 2 adopted much the same pattern as the first – capsizes down through the fleet, and a further 2 competitors heading for the shelter of the dinghy park. Race 2 finished with Alister Morley in 1st, and Paul Ellis traded places with Jim Hopton, to take 2nd. Paul Birbeck, and Chris Biglin of Shustoke came home in the familiar positions of 4th and 5th respectively.

Once everyone was back ashore stories abounded of vertical gusts and 45 degrees shifts in the creek, gusts on top of gusts in the main estuary, and the general apprehension of the final run.

With some visitors staying in the opposite end of the town from the yacht club, refreshment was required on the walk to the club (and on the way back). There are 4 pubs on the way. We know, we went in them. The Yacht club served up what every tired Phantom helm appreciates – pies, and a free beer generously provided by the event sponsor, Salcombe Breweries - We are Phantom sailors and not scared to stereotype. At this point special mention should also be made of the lengths that the Yacht Club went to, in order to accommodate the special dietary requirements of one helm – namely the need for cheese before bedtime. Barman Jay rustled up cheddar and brie to take away and fabricated some appealingly low prices. Unfortunately they couldn't supply crackers. And at quarter to midnight nor could The Fortesque Inn, but they did have 4 bags of mini cheddars, so all was good with the world. In the interests of privacy I shan't mention the helms name. But it does sound like Pieman Fawkes.

Sunday was far more pleasant affair. Warm, sunny, but a little shy of breeze. After pumping around to the starting area the fleet were greeted with more wind than anticipated and started race 3 in a full hiking breeze. Simon Hawkes of Castle Cove led at the windward mark, but Alister Morley was determined. The wind eased during the race and made the runs long and fickle, and on lap 2 Alister made it to the front for his 3rd bullet. Simon Hawkes was 2nd and Paul Ellis was 3rd.

As the breeze returned, the final race also started in a full hiking conditions. Simon led at the windward mark, and by the time the last boat rounded was several hundred metres down the run. The wind faded. Then filled in again. From behind. Those towards the back of the fleet came charging down the run and the fleet was turned on its head. Only one thing remained consistent – Alister Morley – he went from 2nd to 1st and stayed there. Alister again took the bullet, Paul Ellis was second, and Simon Hawkes Third.

Overall Results: (top five)

1st Alister Morley (Salcombe)
2nd Paul Ellis (Salcombe)
3rd Jim Hopton (Shustoke)
4th Paul Birbeck (Wimbleball)
5th Simon Hawkes (Castle Cove)

By the end of the weekend the visitors had experienced more of the conditions offered at Salcombe than they had anticipated. The hospitality of the local sailors and Yacht Club was outstanding, and the class are looking forward to the second SYC Phantom Open next year.

To top off a great weekend, we managed to pair up a Salcombe member looking for a boat, with visitor Ivan Walsh of Shoreham who is looking to upgrade and sell one. So that's +1 for the local fleet, and hopefully the Southern Travellers Series for 2019.

Thanks to the race team, the safety team, the bar staff and caterers, the sponsors, and to SYC for inviting us down. See you all again next year!

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