The Phantom Trophy 16 Jun 2009
The 707 fleet has been honoured to compete for the Phantom Trophy for a number of years. The Trophy was first awarded in the 1820s – and so is 30 years older than the America’s Cup.
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Indeed it is rumoured to be the oldest yachting trophy of all.
The format of the races is laid down by the rules for the trophy – there has to be a combination of coastal, offshore, and inshore races.
This year the format was translated into a coastal race on Saturday 6th June from Burnham round to Stone SC on the River Blackwater; three windward / leewards on the Blackwater on Sunday; a 38 mile offshore race back from Stone to Burnham on Saturday 13th June via some marks out in the Thames Estuary, and a round-the-cans race at Burnham to finish off on Sunday 14th. Obligatory parties on each of the Saturday nights of course!
A good entry of ten Burnham 707s lined up for the coastal race, which featured a ten mile beat against the tide, followed by an uncomfortable two sail reach across the sands to a couple of marks off Brighlingsea, then a run into the Blackwater. Paul Gray’s Beaver Hunter and John Lewis’s Baby Beluga worked their way clear of the fleet on the beat, and it was Beaver Hunter who took line honours. The race for third place was closer, and it was Muttley helmed by Neal Fulcher who prevailed from Race Horse, Blowfish, and Marlin. Black Sheep, Braveheart, Feeling Touchy, and Aquaholic took the remaining places.
Sunday’s racing was unfortunately marred by an unstable and fickle wind. Only one race was completed which was won by Muttley which made them the leader after the first weekend, followed by Feeling Touchy and Blowfish. Worthy of note was Baby Beluga, whose forestay came undone shortly before the start. In the light conditions the only impact was they made a bad start and a 7th position was the result.
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It would have been much worse had it happened on either of the Saturdays.
The weather forecast for the second Saturday was for an 8kt Southerly, which was bound to be affected by a sea breeze as the day warmed up. In fact the fleet started in a light westerly breeze, and the fleet split into two very separate packs on the North and South shores of the Blackwater.
The sea breeze favoured those to the South led byBaby Beluga, Marlin, and Blowfish which was helmed by John Giles. John is a new member of the fleet having just bought GBR7069 Swallow. Quite a baptism, having a 38 mile offshore race for your first 707 race!
The course had some interesting navigational challenges, and it was only Andy Wood-Hill’s Black Sheep that was astute enough to realise that it was not necessary to round Whitaker No 6, and so advance from a distant 7th place to 3rd. Beaver Hunter worked their way to the front of the group that had chosen the north shore of the Blackwater to take 5th place.
No less than five boats were in contention for the Trophy on the Sunday. Baby Beluga led with 10pts, Beaver Hunter 11pts, and Marlin, Muttley, and Blowfish were all on 12 pts. Other than a brief period when Race Horse led round the first windward mark, Baby Beluga maintained enough breathing space between themselves and the chasing pack. Beaver Hunter, having worked their way into a comfortable second place, tried some ever more desperate tactics to catch Baby Beluga, and as a result slipped to 4th place in the race behind Baby Beluga, Marlin, and Race Horse. This in turn allowed Marlin into second place overall, and my having to write this report as the third place finisher.
Congratulations to John Lewis and crew for retaining the Phantom Trophy once again. Big thanks to Phil Bennett for organising a tremendous event.
Not only did ten Burnham boats enjoy racing for the Phantom Trophy, but seven of those boats also managed to turn out for Stone SC’s Thursday night racing, and with several Stone SC members on board. Hopefully that has generated some interest, and may be the trigger that gets another 707 fleet to form. Let’s hope so.
Full results are available here…