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Phantom East Coast Championship at Stone Sailing Club

by Terry Crook 28 Apr 20:35 BST 27-28 April 2019

The forecast Storm Hannah delivered 40 mph gusts on Saturday 27th April so many stayed away but a hardy bunch of eight Phantom sailors made the journey to Stone Sailing Club on the River Blackwater to enjoy the club's excellent facilities and open water.

The very experienced race officer Wendy Robinson cancelled racing for Saturday so it was a good opportunity to get the boats weighed and measured and certificates issued. Some boats were a little on the light side and others surprisingly over weight so lead correctors went in and on some it came out!

After a bimble on the boats the gang relaxed and enjoyed the Grand Prix qualifying to fill the time before the evening curry night and beers. John Wayling decided that Somersby Cider would be rocket fuel for the following days racing so consumed as much of the stuff as possible resulting in a slightly heavy head as the sun rose into his camper van window on Sunday morning.

Sundays forecast of 15mph winds gusting 20mph was a tad under the actual conditions. The sailors stood on the sea wall and gazed out a white rollers and gusts hitting a force 6. Undeterred the fleet were briefed by the Class Association secretary Phil Longley in his usual monotone booming voice and then Wendy Robinson took over and we all then understood what was going to happen. 4 races sailed back to back off the club line, with quick turn around and each race on average 40 mins. 3 laps were planned but in the end each race was shortened to 2 laps.

The fleet launched and was surprised to see Matt House carrying out some last minute boat tuning on the beach hitting his rudder pintles with a house brick as the countdown commenced! It worked but he was late to the line. Race 1 saw lots of the fleet all misjudging the tide and Terry Crook using some local knowledge led the way closely followed by John Wayling and Eric Howe. The gusts were pretty strong at times and the course included two gybes so there were some nervous, tentative bear aways and sounds of screaming, but the fleet managed to perform the gybes without any issues. This soon changed!

The course was the same for all 4 races and it meant hugging the left shore as we headed West before crossing the strong outgoing tide. Clive Morley pinched high and made some gains on the leaders before race 1 finished with John 'the Cider man' Wayling grabbing the first bullet of what would be a clean sweep at the event. Mrs Wayling had promised John some treats if he managed to secure 4 bullets she would live to regret those words! Terry Crook finished second close behind with Clive Morley in third, with Eric Howe a close fourth.

Race 2 saw the entire fleet actually make it close to the start line at the gun and a tight beat between all the fleet with Bill Taylor and Bob Portway hugging the shore and making good gains. John Wayling rounded the windward mark followed by Terry Crook and then Bob Portway. This was how is stayed until the finish line as the wind grew stronger and the hiking legs were starting to scream please stop!

Race 3 and Terry Crook got off the line first and held the lead for lap 1 only to suffer gear failure half way into lap 2 that would end his event and John Wayling, just a whisker behind took the lead and again didn't look back. Bill Taylor fancied a swim at the gybe mark to test his fully breathable dry suit and stayed nice and warm but the hands and fingers were starting to feel the chilly northerly wind. Bob Portway held off Clive Morley to take 2nd and Warren Martin sailing well into 4th.

Race 4 and Bob Portway pushed the limits and ended up OCS and the last dash of the day up the shore avoiding the tide saw Matt House putting the pressure on John Wayling who was now thinking about Cider again and getting back to the club house bar as quickly as possible. Eric Howe felt sorry for Bill Taylor and joined him in a gybe and a swim. Eric's drysuit also worked as it should. The race ended with Matt House close behind John on the line, then Clive Morley who had battled well despite being at the lighter end of the weight range and then Warren Martin gabbing a sequential 4th place.

Despite losing out on Saturday everyone had a great days racing in some testing conditions after the light winds at Alton Water and Fishers Green. No microphone need for Phil Longley at the prize giving and the Stone Mugs were awarded to Bob Portway - Bronze, and to a surprised but worthy Silver award for Clive Morley. John Wayling, who by now was reminding his wife of her promises, took Gold with 4 bullets and a dominant win. A fine acceptance speech with thanks to Stone Sailing Club for a great bar, excellent food and well run racing.

The next event is the Inlands at Northampton Sailing club on the 1st and 2nd June followed by the next East Coast Championship open meeting at Creaksea Sailing Club on the 15th and 16th June.

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