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CREEKSEA SAILING CLUB PHANTOM OPEN MEETING REPORT  16th / 17th June 2018

The grass had been cut, starting hut painted, engines serviced, beer bought and food prepared.  All was ready for another classic open meeting for the Phantom Eastern series at Creeksea Sailing Club in deepest Essex over the weekend of 16th/17th June. 

Nineteen boats entered the two day event, racing under the watchful eye of race officer Edwin Buckley ably assisted by his wife Pat.  The large home fleet was out in force with 10 boats entered (and a further two displaying “dual nationality”) looking forward to competing with the best from Northampton, Royal Harwich, Stone, Oulton Broad, Up River and Alton Water.

The wind god’s had once again smiled on the club and made sure that they were not to go without breeze over the whole weekend.  Saturday’s South Westerly built during the day and this direction gave Edwin a tough job in getting the fleet away from the club line.

Employing a temporary mark in Race 1 and 2 gave a challenge to the fleet in deciding whether to risk the tide with a fetch to the mark or benefit from slacker tide and a tighter beat.  Surprisingly the fleet spread out well for the start and battled strong gusts approaching and exiting the mark which required a bear away gybe.  Early victims included Bob Portway who had been in second place at the mark.

The race then reverted to the default setting of a reach to the Cliff mark close to the entrance to Althorne Marina and a beat up river to the Canewdon mark on the south bank of the river.  This stretch of the River Crouch presents a challenge in wind over tide conditions and as the day progressed both wind and tide built and it was inevitable that challenging conditions would develop.

The downwind legs back to the club line saw a classic tacticians dilemma that was also to be a feature of the weekend.  Crossing the river to hug the northern bank was the obvious choice but when and where to cross over were the hard choices.

Race one saw John Wayling resume his past form at Creeksea by playing things just right and holding off Matt House and Chris Roberts to take the gun.

The decision where to cross the river again played a crucial role in deciding the winner in Race 2, where up and coming local sailor Roger Smith defied the usual convention by crossing the river early after rounding Black Point, to reach home along the shore whilst the leading group of boats looked on in horror.  A well deserved first open meeting race win by the ever humble Smith who attributed his astute tactical analysis to the need to clear weed from his rudder.  As if….

Lunch in the “pop up” galley was enjoyed in glorious sunshine with a veritable banquet provided by the club.

Race three saw a further variation upon the theme – a fast reach to Cliff and a tough beat up to Canewdon with a repeat of this gruelling beat sorting the men from the boys.

Bob Portway showed that he had recovered from his earlier mishap, with a win from Wayling and Ben Falat.

Returning ashore the fleet showered and pampered in the beautifully refitted showers and enjoyed the free beer provided by the home fleet. Barrel 1 was swiftly disposed of as tactics, rules and tuning tips were debated at length.  

The home fleet is sponsored by the Polash Indian Restaurant in Burnham and an excellent meal was enjoyed by all at their establishment.  A night cap in the Queens Head before carriages were called rounded of the evening.

Sunday dawned grey with light rainfall.  Not what had been ordered but this soon passed and the day developed with more sun and slightly less wind evident to the relief of many.  Similar courses were necessary for the day as the breeze refused to follow the forecast and stuck in a general South Westerly direction.

In what seems to be something of a habit for day two of the Creeksea Open meeting, Chris Roberts got a grip on race one and he and former club mate Marcus Ingram, sailing Rod Thorpe’s beautiful JJ boat, had a close race at the front of the fleet before Roberts made the decision to cross the river early and left the fleet strung out behind him to score a win for the home fleet.

Race five again provided another suprise with a win for Ben Falat as John Wayling who had led from start to finish was judged to have been OCS.

The astute reader will realise that at this point after ffive races there were five different winners and the closeness of the racing was evident throughout the fleet.

Lunchtime saw a fair bit of calculation work amongst the leading boats.  John looked likely to win but it was very close between the four following boats of House, Portway, Falat and Roberts.

The final race saw the breeze build a little and the reversion to the double beat to Canewdon tested the endurance of the fleet. 

Special mention has to go to Warren Martin sailing his newly acquired boat who sped away from the line to develop a commanding lead on the reach to the Cliff mark only to fall back upwind.  The Creeksea Phantom Sailing Academy will be dishing out more homework on upwind technique next term for this promising new boy.

Having been stung by the denial of a victory in Race 5 John Wayling, however, made few mistakes to take the gun from Portway.  This secured the same results overall for them as a consequence.  Falat followed them home in third place to secure his fourth overall position, whilst House and Roberts were buried mid fleet. After the application of two discards House took third overall and Roberts fifth.

Special thanks were made to the race officer and rescue boat crews.  The single handed recovery of a dismasted Phantom by Finn sailor Keith Fedi manning the Safety boat was masterly and after minor work on Sunday Pete Sarbut was back on the water to fight again.  A special mention also goes to Alan Shrimplin who once again took some superb photos on Sunday morning but could barely keep awake for the rest of the day having returned from an overseas holiday early that morning!

The next event in the Phantom Eastern Series is at Royal Harwich Yacht Club on the 14th / 15th July.

1st 1346 John Wayling         Northampton

2nd 1334 Bob Portway         Royal Harwich

3rd 1432 Matt House            Royal Harwich

4th 1266 Ben Falat               Waveney and Oulton Broad

5th 1395 Chris Roberts        Creeksea

 

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