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Phantoms at The Final Fling in Plymouth

by Mark Spruce 28 Oct 2022 18:36 BST 15-16 October 2022
Phantoms at The Final Fling © Paul Gibbins Photography

The weekend of 15th & 16th October saw the Phantom class visit Plymouth for the Final Fling, a multi-class end of season regatta hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club.

The forecast for lots of breeze put some sailors off and others to choose a different, less physical boat but the 5 sailors who did enter completed all four races in what can only be described as "Challenging* - rough* - windy* - very windy* - crazy*" conditions (* Delete or select as appropriate!) Saturday saw an increasing SW breeze as the fleet sailed to the racecourse. By the time the first start came the mean wind speed was around 22knots with regular, sustained gusts of 28-30knots!

Race 1 - Mark (Sprucey) Spruce won the pin end after a GP14 snatched disaster from perfection, wrapping itself around the pin-biased mark, allowing Sprucey to take a 50m lead on the Phantom fleet. He increased his lead as a war of attrition decimated the rest of the fleet, taking the race on handicap despite waring round instead of gybing at all three leeward marks. There was relief all round when the RO sent us ashore, all boats in one piece ready to sail on Sunday.

5 bruised and battered Phantom bods took to the water on Sunday, sailing to the start south of Drake's Island in a building Southerly wind, backing left to the SSE / SE as the day went on.

Race 2 - In ideal conditions Jon Rickard powered off the middle of the line to lead throughout while Sprucey emulated the GP14 with a close encounter with the pin end! Second was Neil Boughton, swapping his 50+foot catamaran for his Phantom with local, Matt Blakeston 3rd.

Race 3 - Wind increased to 18knots backing to the left. Sprucey won the pin again and lead by 50m at the weather mark only to be ground down on downwind by Jon Rickard who went on to a comfortable win. New boy, Stephen McDonald sailing his first Phantom open since joining the class, slipped into 2nd when Sprucey took a swim on the last gybe!

Race 4 - By now the breeze had increased to over 20knots with some interesting swells coming I from the western breakwater entrance into Plymouth Sound. Sprucey again won the start and led at the windward mark but a close battle with Jon Rickard saw the lead swap downwind. As Sprucey commented ashore later "then Rickard just opened the afterburners with a really impressive turn of speed on the second beat and extended his lead to take his third bullet and the overall win. I could not touch him." Sprucey crossed 2nd to claim second overall and another impressive performance from Stephen McDonald in this strong breeze gave him a well-deserved third place.

With four great races in the bag and a big storm in the Western Approaches, the RO made the sensible call to send the fleet back to Queen Anne's Battery Marina for tea and medals.

Jon Rickard dominated the Phantom class with his 3 bullets on Sunday - not enough to beat the GP14 who took the overall on handicap but giving Jon 2nd overall and Sprucey 3rd overall - a good show from the Phantom Class.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4Pts
11472Jon Rickard41117
21342Mark Spruce143210
41384Neil Boughton224513
31220Matt Blakeston335415
51259Stephen McDonald652317

That completes the sponsored Phantom South West traveller series for the season. Five events across the South West region with three to count, saw a total of 32 Phantom sailors entered and completing at least one event.

Congratulations must go to Rob Cook who took the series in commanding style, winning one event and finishing on the podium in 2 others. Second, by dint of turning up and consistently finishing three events was Mark (Sprucey) Spruce. Third was Nick Orman, after winning two events. Fourth & fifth were Mike Webster and Simo Heusen, all who could have stood on the traveller series podium if they had just completed one more event in the series! Rob, Mark and Nick all win Vouchers from

South-West Traveller Series 2022 Results:

PosHelmSail NoClubBowmoorPOSH, PaigntonCastle CoveLee-on-SolentFinal Fling, PlymouthPts
1Rob Cook1485Northampton13332327
2Mark Spruce1342LOSSC324325211
3Nick Orman1487Castle Cove3211323234
4Mike Webster1440Northampton4232323238
5Simon Heusen1453Lyme Regis3252323239
6Ian Stone1280Maidenhead6732323245
7Andy Smith1405Bowmoor7326323245
8John Evans1477Derwent Reservoir10632323248
9Dave Patrick1318Broadwater13323263251
10Martin Watts1481Netley32323213265

2023 sees a big effort to present a strong South-West Series with events from Plymouth in the West to Lee on Solent in the East of the region. We have chosen 5 events with strong Phantom fleets and will be offering at least one training day (probably in the Plymouth area) to encourage more local boats to take part in these competitive but friendly events. Watch this space and the Class Association and SW Phantom Facebook pages for further details.

As always, big thanks to the continued sponsorship from who have provided fabulous support to the Phantom Class throughout the season.

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