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Phantom Eastern Series and Smugglers Trophy at Royal Harwich Yacht Club

by Nick Thorp 4 Jul 2023 08:59 UTC 1-2 July 2023
Richard Nurse enjoying the gentle patter of wavelets on his hull - Phantom Eastern Series and Smugglers Trophy at Royal Harwich YC © Pavel Kricka

The "Smugglers Trophy" incorporating the Phantom Open on the Eastern Circuit was held at the Royal Harwich yacht club on the River Orwell just outside Ipswich, one of the East Coast's premier yacht clubs.

The Phantom fleet gathered on Friday evening for the Smugglers Trophy, duly setting boats up ready for the early start Saturday before heading off to the local public house, the rather brilliant "Butt and Oyster" at Pin Mill, several ales and plates of fine food were consumed, with a rather blustery and gusty weekend ahead the food and beer was just the preparation the Phantom sailors needed and are known to enjoy.

Saturday morning came and the 9am briefing by OOD Jo Hunt was conducted, with the Phantoms to start first and complete an "additional sausage" (seemingly appropriate) on the inside of the rectangular course set by the RO.

Race 1 got away at 10am sharp, with Warren Martin and Bill Taylor trying to get away at the pin end hoping to pick up some tide whilst Richard Nurse, Nick Thorp, Steve Pates, Chris Green, Graham Dale Jones and Roger Smith towards the committee boat end. Within a boats length of the start line an immediate issue for Warren, a "bang" and a realisation his mainsheet block had let go, this was to be one of many gear failures over the weekend.

The first beat was a mix bag with Bill Taylor leading the way, closely followed by Richard Nurse, Steve Pates using local knowledge pushed Bill and Richard hard towards the windward mark, very impressive considering how little time Steve has spent in his Phantom and certainly not in wind like this. Graham sensibly decided to retire with body and boat intact, a mature decision.

The gusts pushing the fleet down hill were quite lively causing one or two issues when it came to gybing and some slot gaskets were closely inspected.

Bill Taylor was obviously hungry as he completed the "additional sausages" and laps without losing the lead and took the bullet followed by Richard Nurse and Roger Smith third.

Race 2, another clean getaway by all including Warren having fixed his mainsheet block issue. The wind was to play dirty and provide entertainment with a massive shift when the newly formed "Creaksea synchronised capsize club" was unveiled, Bill and Roger both got slammed into the river, to windward, for a swim almost like they'd been practicing this manoeuvre for ages to get it so synchronised. Richard Nurse pounced on the opportunity and lead the fleet around the course.

The same downhill gusts provided further entertainment with the Phantoms trying to work across the lanes to their "additional sausage" leeward mark whilst Nationals and lasers headed wider to the standard marks.

Warren made an attempt to interact with the laser fleet by getting a laser hooked up through his transom immediately after gybing on to port, some friendly words were exchanged although the laser decided to push Warren's Phantom quite a distance beyond his required course, raised voices could be heard so we all assumed they were becoming well acquainted, the word protest could be heard but no protest was forthcoming after the racing, unlike Thumper's moaning about every other manoeuvre on the water that day.

The race was won by Richard Nurse who was some distance ahead of the shenanigans going on behind, more gear failure was creeping in as well, Nick losing his outhaul due to boom end failure, dropped his sail jury rigged, re hoisted and tried to make ground back up. Roger Smith recovered from his early capsize which clearly gave him the determination to work hard and get up to second place with Bill third along with the self appointed "fleet liaison officer" (on the water) Warren in fourth.

Race 3: Another clean and clear start as the Phantoms all set off, there were a couple of retirements ahead of race 3 as it had already been a brutal day.

Bill Taylor set about producing some exemplary sailing and pulling out an unassailable lead, the chasing pack tried hard to catch Bill, and, although the Phantoms had completed their "additional sausage" they found themselves coming through the start finish line as the lasers were getting under way, some quick thinking and genuine diplomatic tactics deployed by Nick to tack away from the lasers gave Warren more to become animated about forcing him away from his new Laser friends (and the line crossing he needed to make), sorry... not sorry Warren.

Bill showed the fleet the way round taking the bullet again, with Richard Nurse second and Nick Thorp a close third, the fleet were very happy to reach back towards dry land.

Saturday night the hungry, hangry and battle scarred sailors had a lovely "warm down" (like all athletes) by walking along the beautiful towpath back to the Butt and Oyster, plenty of beer and some big dinners were consumed but no "additional sausages" were on the menu, the first time a Phantom sailor has been grateful of that !!

Further beer was consumed back at the RHYC until the bar was closed so some supplies that had travelled were needed to complete the medicinal recovery from the days graft.

Race 4: Sunday morning brought further wind over tide on the river, coupled with a building breeze ahead of the start 10 am start again.

There were some casualties from the previous day, Steve unable to consider sailing with a knee injury, however, painkillers and a decent breakfast for the willing sailors including 'great grand master' Graham were committed to get out racing, no mean feat considering the conditions.

Race 4 start was rather amusing with Roger Smith taking an absolute flyer on port heading up the beat some ten or more boat lengths ahead only to be turned back at the windward mark with the rest of the Phantoms and declared a void race start, owing to a starting time error, the race officer was a little premature with his horn, probably because the Phantoms had all been a little "line shy" (not really a great surprise with tide under and so much breeze it was hard to settle).

Second time round race 4 got under way with Roger once again trying the port flyer, only to arrive at the line too premature himself this time, stalled the boat stuck in irons and almost capsized, this gave the starboard pack the advantage and water. Bill Taylor once again showed absolute consistent performance gaining a huge lead, Roger, Richard and Warren battled for the remaining places whilst Graham DJ again headed ashore still with boat and body in good shape, Nick had to retire to resolve outhaul issues again.

Chris Green (in his composite low buoyancy former Legend John Torrence's old boat) sensibly decided to retire having seen Bill take the win, followed by Richard and Roger in 3rd (still reeling from the slip up at the start).

With the wind now blowing harder the race officer changed to windward leeward course, with no extra sausage for the Phantoms but a gate at the leeward mark allowing for tactical decisions before pushing through the line each lap.

Race 5 started and a familiar pattern formed again with Bill Taylor setting the pace, however, Nick, Roger, Richard and Warren swapped places time and time again in one of the most amazingly close laps any of us had ever been involved in, 20+ knots of breeze and sailing inches apart almost the whole lap.

Bill pulled away whilst the chasers fought hard, Richard got a few yards ahead grabbing a little clear air and took a good second place, Warren tried time and again to get ahead including differing gate tactics which worked and earned 3rd place by a nose from Nick then Roger all seconds apart.

Final race, race 6, got away cleanly and again Bill Taylor laid his stall out and showed us all what consistency means, he looked as comfortable as he does driving his Romford Red Bus. A fifth bullet for Bill and again the fighting pack slogging it out to avoid the dreaded 5th position which comes with certain fleet duties (normally reserved for Eric).

Richard, Roger, Warren and Nick pushed each other with places swapping both up the beat where Richard and Warren were strong and down wind where Roger regained all ground lost up wind, Warren pulled a "rabbit out the hat" to get into 3rd at the end of the first lap, sadly when trying to repeat this, the rabbit went down the "Warren" in a tack before the finish line leaving Bill in a clear first, Richard again in second and Roger 3rd "by a nose " over Warren 4th and Nick 5th.

A great weekend of sailing that had several challenges for everyone except Bill and his consistent performance taking the Smugglers trophy in the Phantom fleet with Richard second and Roger third.

Creaking bones and aching muscles packed boats away which was soon forgotten when the trophies were handed out by the Royal Harwich yacht club.

Onward to Yarmouth and Gorleston on the 15th and 16th July for some sea sailing amongst friendly competitive fleet.

For further images of the Smugglers Trophy please visit

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1273Bill Taylor1‑311115
2nd1500Richard Nurse‑2122229
3rd1320Roger Smith3243‑5315
4th1433Warren Martin(RET)5543421
5th1214Nick Thorp463(DNC)4522
6th1142Chris Green6765(DNC)DNC32
7th1425Stephen Pates54(DNC)DNCDNCDNC33

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