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Phantom Eastern Series open meeting at Creeksea Sailing Club

by Chris Roberts 28 Jul 12:43 BST 24-25 July 2021

Despite an unpromising weather forecast of thunderstorms and strong winds, sixteen Phantoms took part in the two-day Eastern Series Phantom event at Creeksea Sailing Club in Essex over the weekend of 24th/25th July.

Their optimism was rewarded with a pleasant force two North Easterly on both days with the event planned to make the best of midday high water times.

On Saturday the first race saw an eager fleet beating downriver against the tide towards the navigation mark off Burnham Marina. The short tacking battles along the North shore were fierce and getting a good start was imperative. Phil Longley from nearby Stone Sailing Club showed the fleet why he was a past winner of this event by getting away quickly and rounding the windward mark with an unassailable lead for the run down tide to the leeward mark. A short beat back against the tide saw him win ahead of Bill Taylor the up and coming star of Creeksea. Third home was Bob Portway in a sign of things to come.

The second race was sailed back-to-back over the same course and this time the fleet was even keener to get away with a few boats pushing their exuberance too far and recording OCS decisions as a consequence. This race saw local sailor Roger Smith win from clubmate Chris Roberts with Longley claiming a useful third place.

It is a tradition at Creeksea to provide competitors with free food over the weekend and this hospitality also extends to a barrel of beer sponsored by the home fleet. In a sign of the seriousness of the event few of the visiting sailors took up the opportunity of a free beer midday. The fine buffet in the marquee was however much appreciated perhaps indicating where the modern Phantom sailors appetites truly lie.

The afternoon race saw a change of course to reflect the ebbing tide and a slight change in wind direction with a reaching start over an extended start line. This caught a few sailors out as it was a critical decision to choose either the North or South shore.

The tidal advantages of the North shore are mitigated by the wind shadow cast by mature trees in places, whilst the South shore has the stronger tide running in the fairway and little margin for luffing battles. The greater part of the fleet started on the South shore with Roger Smith leading this group downriver.

At the first mark Smith had extended his lead with Bob Portway just getting inside Roberts for mark room and setting off after Smith by crossing the tide back to the South shore. Roberts however carried on across the river towards Bridgemarsh Island and the North shore and was followed by Clive Morley. The rest of the fleet followed the leading pair along the South shore, whilst the original group of North shore starters were still battling their way downriver.

Roberts benefited from the slacker tide and clearer wind on the run and was able to broad reach into the leeward mark well ahead of Smith, with Morley almost able to take second place but just losing out on the approach. Beating back with the tide Roberts was first boat home only to realise that he had failed to include the final mark. He and fellow clubmate Terry Crook thus retired from this race leaving Portway the winner ahead of Smith.

Sunday saw broadly similar conditions although the wind took a little longer to settle and establish itself. After a brief delay racing resumed for the day over a similar course for the first two races.

Making a stunning job of the start and first beat Clive Morley rounded the first mark ahead of Bob Portway and set off on the long run up river to the leeward mark past Creeksea. Portway pulled through on this leg and Morley having rounded the leeward mark took a low course whilst Roberts pulled through to take second.

The second race again saw a very eager fleet bunching up out of the tide on the Creeksea shore and the subsequent tacking battle was a tooth and nail affair. Making the best of the start and picking up a nice lift into the windward mark was Graham Dale-Jones and, having been given the opportunity to get through the tidal gate, he headed off downriver with a big lead ahead of Portway and Roberts who were unable to get near him. This was a well deserved win for the class Treasurer and stalwart of the home fleet.

The decision had been made to run the third and final race back-to-back. In part the decision was based upon the knowledge that the free food and beer offered for lunch could entice sailors away from the water for the day. The main factor was however the desire to make the best of the high water whilst the breeze was so good, although a few sailors decided that enough was enough.

With another short tacking battle awaiting them the fleet were again over eager and a general recall was required to bring a little discipline back. The race eventually got away with one or two boats being OCS but able to return and start correctly.

By now it looked like the home club boats had remembered how to tackle their own patch with a battle at the front between four home boats. At the finish Taylor took the win ahead of Smith, Dale-Jones and Roberts.

By the time the competitors had come ashore, washed their boats down and tucked into the remaining buffet the results had been carefully calculated and checked. Bob Portway took another well deserved win on the Eastern Circuit to add to his East Coast Championship win. In second place was Roger Smith from the home club with Chris Roberts in third just squeezing out Bill Taylor in fourth.

Winner Bob Portway thanked the club and all those who had contributed to the success of the weekend including Bruce Mapes and helpers in the race box (who had wrestled with an errant starting system and flyaway air horn connection), Dave Chick on the Safety boat, and Alan Shrimplin for his photography (see gallery above).

Teething problems aside, the club was delighted to host the event after a missed year of sailing and looks forward to the official opening of their new facilities on 7th August.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Mandy1334Bob PortwayRHYC3(RET)112‑57
2 1320Roger SmithCSC412‑5‑629
3Gromit1395Chris RobertsCSC‑52(RET)23411
4Cheeseboard1273Bill TaylorCSC24(RET)‑65112
5The End1461Graham Dale‑JonesCSC‑9(OCS)571316
6Spanish Inquisition1443Phil LongleySCS136(DNC)8(DNC)18
7 1420Clive MorleyMBSC7533‑9(DNC)18
8Hangar On1215Hamish BettanyCSC(DNC)9(DNC)84829
9Pink Panther1433Warren MartinCSC‑13‑10797730
10Well eeled1404Eric HoweCSC(DNF)(OCS)44DNC631
11 1430Tim DenbyBSC‑11.5681010(DNC)34
12Pink Djinn1233Pete SarbuttCSC11.579(DNC)(DNC)DNC44.5
13 1269Andrew HuntWOBYC148(DNS)(DNC)DNCDNC56
14Ghostbuster1464Terry CrookCSC6(OCS)(RET)DNCDNCDNC57
15 1204Jamie MeersRCYC8(DNS)(DNC)DNCDNCDNC59
16 1309Mike StoneSCS10(RET)(DNS)DNCDNCDNC61

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