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Phantom Nationals 2022 - Runners & Riders

by Mark Spruce 15 Sep 12:44 BST 16-18 September 2022
2011 Phantom nationals at Lyme Regis © Ian Wallace

Starting this Friday (16th September and running until Sunday, the Phantom Class are visiting Lyme Regis Sailing Club for this year's National Championships. Here is a guide to the Runners & Riders from my inside source in the fleet.

With last year's National Champion, Ian Stone, not yet entered we will have a new National Champion this year so it's wide open.

In no particular order:

  • The Denby Brothers - Broadstairs SC

    Like an East End gangster film, these two must always be mentioned in the same breath. Blistering quick when they think they're sailing the 'right' boat or have an unbreakable Dutch mast, they are always up there at the first windward mark.

    Beware though, if you meet them in the bar, especially with their "muscle" side-kick Stewart Jarvis - they will make sure you'll not sail the next morning without a hangover!

  • Bob Portway - Royal Harwich YC

    The unassuming "Grey man" from the East. Tall, thin and light - no one works harder upwind & down, with a very smart head. With light-moderate, shifty, offshore winds predicted he will be right up there. Second at the recent Eastern Championships at Burnham on Crouch, I predict, Bob will win this year's Veterans prize. A definite top ten for sure - could easily be in the top 3 if the youngsters don't hike hard.

  • Richard Nurse - Northampton SC

    My Bookie has heard he's blisteringly quick and also been working on his boat - no doubt adding P&B go faster goodness! Part of the Northampton posse, another winner this year in an Eastern Region muddy ditch, he has raw speed and a lake sailor's mindset which will suit the anticipated offshore conditions. Young and fit, my bookie says top three but don't get caught over the line with that hair colour!

  • John "Titch" Wayling - Northampton SC

    What more can be said that hasn't already been said about this "Giant" of a sailor. Another of the Northampton posse, he's got good upwind speed across the range and starts reasonably well. A strong second at Lee on Solent. Watch out for him on the runs (and go with him) as he heads off on the opposite gybe - guaranteed to reach the mark 10 places ahead if you don't follow. My bookie says 5-10th.

  • Nigel King - Lymington Town SC

    All-round, multi-class champion and coach, he'll never start with a hangover. Good all-round speed, excellent boat handling and tactically sound. He may not be there from the start but I guarantee he'll be there inside the top ten by the end of every race. Relentless, like a dog with a juicy bone, Nigel is very hard to shake off. If he has a good weekend, a top 5 for sure!

  • Olly Hopkins - Bowmoor SC

    Another pond sailor my bookie has never met but he's sailed in the class so long he can do it blind folded. Fast, an ideal Phantom bod (allegedly!) and another puddle sailor, he should appear in the top 10 in most races, especially given the forecast.

  • Mike Webster - Northampton SC

    The aged assassin - smiles a lot, behaves like a gent off the water and a honed killer on it! Don't be deceived - You think you've got rid of him up the beat but he still smiles at you as he tacks inside and ahead at the weather mark. He's got a great all-round game, not many weaknesses and I'd be surprised if he finishes lower than 10th. Big contender to Bob Portway for the Vets prize (along with Graham Dale Jones if it's light winds).

  • Richard Simms - Carsington Water SC

    Mike Webster's assassin apprentice - traveling the country to learn from the Master and the rest of the Northampton posse. Another pond sailor well suited to the forecast, he's always there. If it's not too windy - inside the top 10 - if it is windy, then just outside.

  • Simon Heusen - Lyme Regis SC

    The local favourite and another good all-round competitor. At POSH in May he was very consistent and up there most of the time. He'll be keen to perform in front of the home crowd and keen to get home early to the club facilities following his Thursday evening Class curry night!

  • Stephen Popple - Shoreham SC

    Very fast, particularly upwind in moderate conditions and good most of the rest of the time. Immaculately prepared boat, he's fast when he's enjoying himself. The winner at the Easter Shoreham open. Has the odd stinker which can throw him off his stride but if he gets his head stuck in, completes all the races, on a good day should make the top 5.

  • Martin Watts - Netley SC

    Swapping three hulls for one, he's my bookie's top tip for this year's Champ! Fast upwind and down in all conditions, he'll be fully hiked and de-powering in 2-3 knots less wind than anyone else in the fleet - despite being a giant at 6'4" and 115kg! A top 5 finisher last year, he won Plymouth's Final Fling and Lee on Solent and my spies say he may have been privately training on the water since then.

  • Chris Shelton - Downs SC

    The quiet man of the fleet and Mr Consistency. Another guy you can never shake off, he doesn't say much but let's his results do the talking. Winner at Broadstairs in breeze, second at Shoreham and 4th at Lee on Solent, he's particularly quick in the light, so well suited to the forecast. I think he'll make the top ten.

  • Mark Spruce - Lee on Solent SC

    The big man from the emerging Lee on Solent fleet, he starts well, has good upwind speed and will hopefully make top ten at the weather mark in most races. After that he'll just hang on and hope not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That means hanging on downwind in the light and not capsizing downhill in the breeze!

  • Neil Boughton - Royal Western Yacht Club

    Another man swapping big multi-hulls for a dinghy and the Round Britain & Ireland Race for a smaller round the cans, dinghy course. Consistently good at last year's Final Fling in Plymouth, his sailing brain will keep him competitive with this forecast.

  • Ed Child - Lee on Solent SC

    Ed, another big yacht Captain, is swapping his twin, multi-thousand HP Super Charged Yacht diesels for his Phantom. After two months at sea he's keen, young & fit! A good all-rounder with excellent speed he's very good when his head is looking outside the boat. He'll be working hard to match his Dad's (Graham Child) record as Albacore World Champion in the mid-80s.

  • Rob Cook - Northampton SC

    I can't see him on the list of entries but my bookie's snout says Rob has been seen practising in Lyme Regis for some time now. He would say that Rob is one of the in-form riders - a new boat, fast sailor, used to shifty puddle sailing (Northampton Posse), young (relatively!) and fit. As long as he chooses the right sail from his quiver (not the POSH development sail), he's in my top 3 and a contender for Champion!

  • Ian Stone - Maidenhead SC

    Again, not seen on the Entry List but THE quiet man of the fleet and current National Champion. A master of every condition, he's recently changed sailmaker. Not so fast at POSH in May (his new sail's luff curve didn't look right on his stiff Selden S3 mast) he must have modified hi rig & sail as I see he cleaned up in July at Northampton. My bookie says top 3 and I agree.

Last notable addition:

  • Simon Hawkes - Castle Cove SC

    Injured back, allegedly caused by lifting a wine bottle at last year's prize-giving, has kept Mr H off the water for most of the season. He's even building a spare parts boat for this event - expect it to have a Contender rudder blade and an Osprey boom but atleast he'll be on the water. Another class stalwarts who can do it blind folded, if his thighs can remember what a hiking strap is, he will be there or there abouts. Top 25 on the water, top 5 in the bar!

Missing in action?

Andy Couch, Nick Oram and Harry Bridon.

I understand Couchey is being taught how to sail properly by the Finn fleet? For a bit of light relief, he blitzed it in Abersoch this summer, so confidence should high if he turns up. A Master of the class, he'll be top 3 - hope to see him on the entry list and I will miss him demonstrating his light, downwind steering and trimming skills!

Nick Oram won POSH overall (all classes - 76 boats) as well as taking the Phantoms. Aggressive starter and lane holder off the line, pretty quick upwind, even quicker down. A definite top 3 if a) He turns up and b) He completes all the races even if he has a bad one! Currently parenting a young family, I'm sure hell turn up eventually when he's old and greying like the rest of us!

Harry Bridon - Bookie's snout says he's too busy playing with Lego Bricks?

So, that's the minor competition but what about the most important prize - the Team Club Prize?

Northampton Posse must be favourites but Lee on Solent are growing and the home team, Lyme Regis, look to have a good turnout, no doubt supported and cheered on by all those French Lieutenant's woman lining the Cobb. Bringing up the rear is the Creeksea Massive but I think they maybe be pushing for the OAP Club prize?

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