I started sailing in Merlin Rockets, and did so for a long time. With the progression of more refined boats and rigs, the opportunities for winning races in anything less than a 20 knot breeze diminished to virtually zero, for any crew weight over say 23 stone. With my 15 stone in the back it is hard to find a 7 -8 stone crew capable of the work involved, and even if you do, what chance they will be reliable! (not that small crews are particularly unreliable - it is a general observation!)
Dinghy sailing is demanding, but the best there is - most of us have had our chances in bigger boats, but for me, going back to the responsiveness and challenges of a small boat remain.
And so I looked around for a single hander which would take my 15 (or even more!) stone in the back, and the Phantom became the obvious choice.
For a couple of years I have sailed one, with some success. I have not enjoyed it that much because of some fundamental difficulties in sailing the Phantom. Which is why I asked Keith to help with a design which favoured a 15 stone helm, and was easy to sail on both restricted and open waters, cheap to build, strong, pretty but still racy - a tall order.
I sail at Thames Sailing Club at Surbiton, on the River Thames and have a share in an A Class Rater. This was a boat developed for sailing on the Thames, and is as popular now as it ever was over its 120 year history - light, strong, big sails (45 foot mast) - take a look at the , Thames Sailing Club web pages.
And it was with these thoughts in mind that I discussed the design with Keith - it had to be a boat which can be sailed on the Thames and restricted waters as well as on the sea. The Phantom fills most of these requirements, but is difficult to sail on restricted waters.
The Heatwave therefore has the following design considerations incorporated.
The Phantom has a hard chine with a very shallow angled profile along the rear sections. To keep wetted surface to the minimum you need to sail upright. In light airs - no sail shape - heel, and the wetted surface increases. The Heatwave reduces in wetted surface by up to 9% as the boat is heeled and weight is moved forward. She should fly in light airs.
With all single handers, in light airs you need to be in the centre of the boat, and downwind similarly. You can't get round this, but in most Phantoms there is nothing in the middle of the boat except the very low top of the plate case, and lots of other bits - centre mainsheet jammer- kicker - control lines and toe strap support bungy cords. Much of the time one is kneeling. And trying to control the boat. The Heatwave will have the mainsheet jammer well forward and the mainsheet will run along the boom and down to some strops at the back. There will be a thwart placed well forward, to take control lines, lift the toestraps and to sit on! We also are providing a capping to the plate case to give a further option to centre line positioning downwind in a breeze.
Modern Phantoms are now all self draining. The double floor reduces the distance from floor to side deck to about 175mm perhaps 200mm in some boats. You are therefore sitting out with your legs almost straight. Not a problem on the sea or a breeze, and if you are reasonable fit, but in gusty variable conditions I have found myself lying on the water looking up at a sail coming towards me, and no chance of climbing back in. The Heatwave is much deeper and should make life a bit easier. She will still be self draining.
There is a lot of buoyancy in most Phantoms, which results in the plate being very high in a capsize, and the side deck even further away - we have reduced the buoyancy so that the plate will be at water level with 100kgs standing on it. Also a brilliant thought from Gerry Ledger is to reduce the outlet flow through the transom, which gives you a few seconds of stability to sort yourself out before sailing away. ( he has done this on National 12s with great success)
We are having a low bow tank, with a foredeck over - with the thought that we could run forestay tension controls under it. Most Phantoms have several cascades of wires and ropes across the top of the foredeck - it all works - but not very pretty. The low bow tank also allows for storage of the life jacket, food and drinks etc. on those long hot championship days. We have decided, at least for the first prototype to have main shroud adjustment, and no forestay or lowers adjustment - but this might change. But we want to keep it simple, and we think that shroud adjustment is more useful than forestay adjustment.
The Heatwave is, I suppose a compromise boat - in that it will suit my particular needs. But I don't think I am unique. Many of us put on a bit of weight as we get older, and we are not as fit and agile as we were 10, 20 or even 30 years ago - so why not have a boat that is enjoyable to sail ....
So if you fit into this category, (or even if you don't (it will be an exciting boat with high speed potential)), contact Keith and have one built - or build one yourself.