Lawrence Crispin won an incredibly close-fought Phantom championship at Stone SC last weekend

A record entry of 73 Phantoms hit Stone SC on Friday 3 September to compete in the 2004 nationals on the Blackwater. The event was held in predominantly a Force 2-3, as the sea breeze filled in the afternoon, the competition levels throughout the fleet were raised again with places in the top ten closely fought and any mistakes severely punished.

The first race started into a strong tide causing a really tricky get away. Allen Burrell, Simon Childs and Will Gulliver worked the right side to minimise the tide to lead round. Graham Scott raced through downwind to lead while Lawrence Crispin worked through to third. At the finish Burrell took a comfortable win, Crispin grabbed second, Gulliver third and Childs fourth.

Race two followed with the wind shifting around, a recall brought out the black flag and that was to be significant for some of the contenders. Childs led the way followed by Crispin and Jamie Lea, a four-lap race was slugged out between Childs, Beloe and Crispin with Childs losing the lead on the last reach by sailing for the wrong mark. Crispin took advantage to win, Childs, Beloe and Gulliver crossed the line together to only one gun, followed by Burrell. Six boats were black flagged including Childs, Beloe, Scott and Andy Elliott. This meant Neil Fulcher gained fourth and Dave Guthrie fifth.

There was a delayed start on Saturday, and another difficult start into the tide. However, Childs broke away to lead race three with Burrell and Crispin never far behind. A mistake on the final beat let Burrell through but Childs was not prepared to lose, and got back ahead down the run. The finishing order being Childs, Burrell, Crispin and Lea.

Race four saw another chaotic start with the tide almost in control. Beloe led away from Scott, Gulliver and Tyler Harmsworth. Another close race saw Scott sneak through on the last run, Beloe finished second, Gulliver third and Childs fourth.

Race fivesaw another pile up at the pin end, Crispin escaped onto port first and led round from Childs and Scott. Crispin was never headed and was followed home by Scott, Childs, Burrell and Harmsworth.

Going into the final day it seemed to be between the top four with Crispin having the edge over Burrell, Childs and Gulliver. Gulliver led race six away, still powered by Smirnoff, chased by Lea, Crispin and Childs. These four had a comfortable race with Lea eating away at the lead, he pinched first on the last leg with Crispin making sure he stayed ahead of the competition in third.

Race seven was the decider. Crispin only had to finish in the top six and Burrell had to win, the others were battling for the minor places. A shift on the startline saw a rush back to the committee boat with 40 seconds to go. At the windward mark Burrell was away with Crispin sweating down the order in 10th. An agonising four rounds saw Crispin picking off the boats in front. At the finish Burrell and Childs were well clear followed by Beloe, Phil Argent and Alan Husk. Crispin just held off Lea for sixth.

With calculators out on the beach, Crispin had just held on to beat Burrell on countback, both on 16 points. The second year in a row this had happened. Childs ended up third on 18 points, the black flag proving decisive, with Gulliver third on 26 points and Beloe fourth on 30 points.

Overall Results

1st Lawrence Crispin, 1176, Stone SC 16 pts

2nd Allen Burrell, 1184, Thorpe Bay YC 16 pts

3rd Simon Childs 1177, Grafham Water SC 18 pts

4th Will Gulliver, 1100, Broadwater SC 26 pts

5th Nick Beloe, 1170, Northampton SC 30 pts

6th Graham Scott, 1153, RYA 36 pts

7th Jamie Lea, 1123, Exe SC 37 pts

8th Phil Argent, 1110, Stone SC 47 pts

9th Neil Fulcher, 1193, Stone SC 55 pts

10th Ian Jay, 1194, Sutton Bingham SC 57 pts