The Phantom class reflects on another year of growth and consolidation in their position as one of the most popular singlehanders in the UK

The 2004 Racing Circuit has drawn to a close for the Phantom fleet and the class can reflect on another year of growth and consolidation in their position as one of the most popular singlehanders in the UK.

A total of 73 entries at the nationals at Stone SC, 42 entries for the inlands at Grafham Water SC and 116 helmsmen entering at least one event in the National Travellers Series meant that this has been perhaps the most successful year for the fleet ever with more and more clubs are starting to host Phantoms in their club racing and increasing entries in handicap events such as the Top Club.

Jeff Vander Borght continued to keep busy producing the fleet’s leading hulls, and this now means that the second-hand market is becoming much busier, allowing more people access to the latest epoxy version. Sail numbers are now past 1200, with around 35 boats built in the year, and Jeff reports a steady flow of orders starting to flow in for next seasons’ action.

The year saw lots of development on the Sail front with the Kevlar options dominating. Last year’s leading force the Pinnell and Bax sail was again to the fore, looking even bigger, collecting 2nd and 4th at the Inlands and 4th and 5th at the nationals, but faced a new challenge in the 3 shapes of North, which took 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 7th at the nationals. Andy Elliott’s Red Eye Sails are proving extremely popular and also put in some strong results among the top10 positions while Wavelength remains the market’s leading traditional Dacron sail collecting 3rd at the inlands and 6th at the nationals.

Dorsal Foils also entered the market in 2004, with a range of centreboards and fixed rudders to challenge the traditional favourite Milanes, both being well represented in the top 10 of the fleet.

Lawrence Crispin again took home the spoils, retaining both the national and Inland titles plus taking the travellers trophy. However, the racing at the front of the fleet was closer than ever, 1 point the winning margin at the inlands and winning the nationals on countback, for the second year from Allen Burrell. Allen’s return to form, after sharing his time with the Finn, all the more impressive in the light conditions that dominated the season. Simon Childs, Nick Beloe and Will Gulliver also featured strongly in all the events and could easily have captured top spot on another day. Jamie Lea also joined the fleet for the nationals to record a 6th and hopes to return for more in 2005.

However, the strength of the fleet is its camaraderie and friendliness, all the way through the fleet. This was never more evident than during the Nationals expertly hosted by Stone SC. The beer and food was excellent, prizes fantastic and spread well throughout the fleet and concluded on the lawns with ‘compere’ and host Neil Fulcher rounding off a great Season.

The aim for the class this year is 100 at the nationals.