20 sailors gathered at beautiful Creeksea, the jewel in the crown of Essex’s Dengie Peninsula, for Creeksea Sailing Club's Phantom open over the weekend of 24th and 25th of June. There was a substantial and, ah, lively Norfolk contingent from Wells, Blakeney, Rollesby and Hickling Broads, Buckenham and Denver, as well as visitors from Wembley, Stone, Blithfield, Arlesey and Thorpe Bay.

Creeksea, just outside Burnham-on-Crouch is the most amiable of clubs, and did quality hospitality, with catering, beer, and a T-Shirt thrown in with the entry fee, and the visiting tractor boys did their bit with an admirable display of quality sailing and serious good humour. It was one of the two Norfolk Jims, James Case who ultimately won the event, from local stalwart and Creeksea Commodore Chris Roberts.

On Saturday morning there was so little breeze that the loudest noise was the sound of millions of grasshoppers bouncing on the sails laid out for measuring by the rigorous John Torrance. It did build during the day, but showed the level of commitment and co-ordination that Sven's boys have been showing in the early stages of the world cup finals, and both races were turned inside out by huge holes. The first leg set the tone: a long, light-air beat over the flood tide up to Burnham. The locals stayed left, enjoying one of their set piece tacking duels round the little headlands on the north shore, and it was left to a small group of visitors, led by Nigel Blake in his brand-new second hand boat (the memorably named Scabdog, ex-Rod Thorpe) to sail over to Suicide Corner (which never works) under the Russsian Wharf and of course pop out way ahead. Later on, down the other end of the river there was a further inversion of the natural order, as the remaining backmarkers sailed round a group of rockstars, marooned in midriver like Calder mobiles in a sculpture park: even the famed Creeksea Phantom River Dance didn't work. Try to imagine 16-stone male ballerinas doing a yachting Billy Elliott with a balletic recreation of 1970s Liverpool football fans singing You'll Never Walk Alone.

A big up here to Paul Neve, who piloted the oldest boat in the fleet - the stitch and tape 724, lovingly saved by him from the bottom of a garden where it was slowly turning to compost - to 6th place in this race (and 12th overall), patiently sticking to his knitting on the north bank on the way up the river. Blake held on to second, ahead of James Case, both behind Alastair Warren, and was so shocked by the success that he didn't go out on the Sunday at all. The second Saturday race was much the same, but a bit less so, and the quality began to make itself felt with Case winning from Rollesby's Darren Pike and local guru John Torrance, owner of the Black Book of Creeksea, with 40 years observations of every little curl of tide and bend of wind.

Plans for Saturday night were dampened a little bit by the theft of the barrel of Crouch Vale's best the night before, but the party was reconvened at the marina restaurant. If you listened carefully, from the far river bank, you might just have made out the gentle tones of partying Phantomeers discussing the finer points of the location of the laminar flow separation on Dorsal compared to Milanes foils, and the niceties of rights in referred calls for water, all conducted over a fine claret. Well, alright, you probably wouldn't have, but you would have heard a great deal of laughter bringing light to the rather soul-less surroundings, the legendary social skills of the fleet leaving at least one fringe participant literally in tears of laughter.

Sunday was overcast but with a slightly less shredded breeze, which built through the day to give a couple of quad-stretching beats and the odd fast reach (is any boat as much fun with a bit of a breeze on a close reach? They go like the clappers with at the same time a feeling that they're on rails). With two races before lunch on the same (excellent) course the quality began to sort itself out: Pike won the first race from Stone's Neil Fulcher and James Case, and Roberts got the second from Fulcher and Case.

The last race, after lunch, was a shorter beat and triangles in front of the club, and Case, who had already won the event ended up in the White House windshadow and booked a twelfth. Fulcher, who only sailed the Sunday won to make it two seconds and a first, from Thorpe Bay's Paul Beasley (who also only did the half-meeting) and Torrance.

Special prizes were handed out, including to Simon Fielden from Hickling, at his first Phantom open meeting (10th overall – he got a bottle of wine and an option to purchase the Creeksea Commodore's Fireball), to Paul Neve as first wood-and-tin boat. Also, to James “JimJim” Frost, a birthday cake for having come out on his 40th: it was that sort of meeting.

Rank SailNo Helm Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Total Nett

1st  1255  James Case  Wells SC  3.0 1.0 3.0 3.0 (12.0) 22.0  10.0

2nd  1128  Chris Roberts  Creeksea SC  (15.0) 5.0 5.0 1.0 4.0 30.0  15.0

3rd  1206  Alistair Warren  Blakeney SC  1.0 (6.0) 6.0 4.0 5.0 22.0  16.0

4th  1183  Darren Pike  Rollesby Broad SC  (12.0) 2.0 1.0 5.0 9.0 29.0  17.0

5th  1200  John Torrance  Creeksea SC  5.0 3.0 (8.0) 7.0 3.0 26.0  18.0

6th  1193  Neil Fulcher  Stone SC  (DNC) DNC 2.0 2.0 1.0 47.0  26.0

7th  1256  Rod Thorpe  Creeksea SC  (9.0) 4.0 9.0 6.0 8.0 36.0  27.0

8th  1157  Jim Frost  Buckenham SC  4.0 (13.0) 10.0 9.0 6.0 42.0  29.0

9th  1202  Paul Beasley  Thorpe Bay YC  (DNC) DNC 4.0 8.0 2.0 56.0  35.0

10th  1022  Simon Fielden  Hickling Broad  10.0 8.0 (12.0) 10.0 7.0 47.0  35.0

11th  1165  Roger Beavis  Blakeney SC  13.0 7.0 7.0 (14.0) 11.0 52.0  38.0

12th  742  Paul Neve  Creeksea SC  6.0 10.0 11.0 (13.0) 13.0 53.0  40.0

13th  1249  Alan Tolly  Blithfield SC  11.0 11.0 (15.0) 11.0 10.0 58.0  43.0

14th  947  Ed Maggs  Creeksea SC  7.0 14.0 14.0 12.0 (15.0) 62.0  47.0

15th  1171  David Hawkins  Denver SC  8.0 9.0 16.0 15.0 (DNC) 69.0  48.0

16th  1113  Nigel Blake  Nth Herts & East Bucks  2.0 12.0 (DNC) DNC DNC 77.0  56.0

17th  1115  Ken Daniels  Wembley SC  17.0 15.0 13.0 (21.0 DNF) 14.0 80.0  59.0

18th  931  Noel Sutcliffe  Creeksea SC  14.0 18.0 (21.0 DNF) 16.0 16.0 85.0  64.0

19th  880  Brian Spurling  Creeksea SC  16.0 16.0 17.0 17.0 (21.0 DNS) 87.0  66.0

20th  866  Chris Henry  Creeksea SC  18.0 17.0 (21.0 DNF) DNC DNC 98.0  77.0