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Phantom Open at Lee-on-the-Solent Sailing Club

by Mark Spruce 10 Aug 2022 22:04 BST 6-7 August 2022
Lee-on-the-Solent Sailing Club Phantom Open © Kevin Clark

"That was the week(end) that was!"

The weather forecast was, shall we say, less than ideal. With high pressure centred firmly over the UK the weather charts showed not a single isobar in sight! With very light Northerly gradient winds the omens weren't good for thermal breezes from either of the usual directions.

How often have we heard it? "It's not normally like this here!"

However, the sun shone and the race officer was having none of it and started the 12-boat fleet off on-time on their triangle - sausage course, deciding he could always scrap it if it turned inside out. Instead, the fleet enjoyed light 4 - 6 knot winds oscillating from the off shore gradient NW to a light WSW thermal breeze. At times, the breeze blew from all points of the compass, occasionally in the same 100square meters of water at the same time but as shifty as it was, three good races were completed.

Not everyone had a good day, the heavyweights struggled and it was an eyes out of the boat on a swivel head kind of day but as always, the good sailors made less bad decisions than the rest and rose to the top with consistent sailing. Perceived wisdom is you can't win a regatta on the first day but you can lose it and after the first day, the top sailors had kept themselves firmly in contention.

A day for "Little & Large"

As the fleet came ashore after the first day, Martin Watts (at 6ft 4" and 115kg) led with 5 points, 1 point ahead of class stalwart John 'Titch' Wayling (who, as the name suggests, is not 6ft 4" and 115kg!).

Nigel King and Chris Shelton filled 3rd and 4th and Rob Starling brought his inland Burghfield SC gravel pit skills to the fore to sit in 5th.

This event was shared with the Contenders and the Solution Class (who were sailing their National Championships). It made for a great social mix at the event dinner in the club house that evening - the lantern was swung, the rum bottle tops thrown away and discussion topics ranged from boat tuning tips, how to solve falling numbers at post-covid dinghy events, how we learnt to sail (more extreme than Monty Python's Yorkshire Men sketch that!) and rash statements made "Only one more" when the shots appeared later in the evening!

A lot of happy sailors retired to their bunks ready to do battle on Sunday morning.

Sunday brought a light gradient NE and the RO let us all know he was starting on time. He had 4knots of breeze and time & tide waits for no man - or Phantom Sailor!

Three great races were sailed in the sunshine and the overall results started to take shape.

Race 4 was sailed in a more consistent, building 6-8 knot ESE thermal breeze. A late shift brought port bias to the start line allowing Pete Harlow from Lilliput SC in Poole to pull off the perfect start, crossing the fleet from the pin on port tack straight off the line! Chapeau my friend.

Titch Wayling took the gun to share the overall lead with Martin Watts (2nd) closely followed by Chris Shelton and Nigel King.

In Race 5, the breeze built up to 10-12 knots, sparkling waves and white caps, champagne sailing conditions and full hiking conditions for the Phantoms.. Mark Spruce won the pin and led at the first mark from Titch Wayling and Martin Watts. He held them off on the first triangle but they both slid ahead with Martin demonstrating superb power and fitness to build an impressive 100m lead after the second beat. By the end, Nigel King powered through to second pushing Titch Wayling to 3rd to upset the top of the leader board. Mark Spruce held onto 4th ahead of Chris Shelton in 5th.

The wind eased to 8-10knots for Race 6, the last of the day. Martin Watts had built a comfortable (?) 2point overall lead over Titch Wayling with Nigel King a further 3 points behind so, in these lighter conditions, it was all to play for.

In an impressive display, Martin Watts came off the middle of the line to power to an impressive win with John Wayling, Chris Shelton and Nigel King filling the remaining places. On the very last short beat from the leeward mark to the Finish line the ESE breeze started to shut down to be slowly replaced by the more normal SW sea breeze. The Race officer's intuition and action to start on-time paid off and all three of the day's races were completed on a fair and reasonably consistent race course.

Two different days, two different conditions but 6 races successfully completed in trying conditions for any race team. There were no complaints from the competitors and, as a true test, the best sailors on both days emerged to fill the top of the leader board.

Congratulations to overall winner Martin Watts, an impressive performance and great preparation for the Phantom Nationals in September. John Wayling, Nigel King and Chris Shelton were always up there applying pressure, displaying good consistency over the two days of shifty and light winds.

A race is never over until you cross the finish line and commendation goes to those competitors who stuck at it through all the races, particularly newbies Mark Robinson and Dave Brewster. Both showed big improvement through the two days of racing.

Congratulations also to the Lee on Solent SC Shore and Race teams who ran a very successful two days of sailing and socialising.

The fleet now moves on to Torpoint Mosquito SC regatta just over the Devon border into Cornwall on 20th &21st August and then moves up to the last weekend of Burnham on Crouch Week on the summer Bank Holiday weekend of 27th - 29th August.

The last opportunity for training before the all-important 2022 Phantom Nationals at Lyme Regis on the 16th - 18th September; if you haven't done so already get your entry in now - it's going to be a good one!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1481Martin WATTSNetley11‑42116
2nd1385John WAYLINGNorthampton2‑311329
3rd1391Nigel KINGLymington Town‑42242414
4th1491Chris SHELTONDowns SC3‑6335317
5th1342Mark SPRUCELOSSC65‑874527
6th1309David PATRICKBroadwater‑87666631
7th1277Pete HARLOWLilliput7‑9787837
8th1431Rob STARLINGBurghfield545(DNC)DNCDNC40
9th1333Mark ROBINSONLOSSC98(RET)98741
11th1460Steve POPPLEShoreham(DNS)DNCDNC5DNCDNC57

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