Oct 17, 2013

F18: Phantom Review

Images Marcela Zapiola - www.marcelazapiola.com.ar  | These two past weekends I had the opportunity to sail & race the SI Phantom for the first time. After all the 'serious' technical arguments I heard & read past years I was confident on winning every single race with it....... even without sailing/ racing for 4 months.
We sailed on my friend Gonzalo Nieto's Phantom. First impression was how rigid and firm the platform was. The helm was responsive and overall feeling in double trap conditions resembled the Wildcat, but with a more stable firm ride sailing with chop.

Two days previous the event, I helm the Wildcat again with my pal Gustavo Rizzi, he owns now ex Mischa black beast, and it was good to compare both Fischer designs. Remember the Phantom was conceived after Backes-Jarlegan won the Title in 2010 with a Wildcat.
The greatest differences between both are

how high and dry the ride is on the Phantom, and basically a more easy and forgiving ride.  The Wildcat helm is more precise, and it needs to be as it allows you to control it in a better way in the breeze.

The Phantom gives you a more relaxed ride, but still maintaining a fine and smooth mode. Using Tornado rudder system without any rubber joints adds to those Fischer designed foils a superb control in the Wildcat and a above standard on the Phantom.

Downwind in 14knots and in our chop the Phantom had a slight tendency to dive, but it is no problem at all adapting to the techinique. Although with 20-25knots and hard steep chop we had on Saturday it was necessary to go for a more conservative / pointing angle. That day for ie, many people didn´t race,  Sergio Mehl (7th at Grosseto till final day) abandoned the course.
I had a sideways capsize only on a slow motion too conservative gybe while going 3rd. So it has good margin in those conditions.

I think that having the dagger case way forward is loading the rudders too much when boards are up, thus reducing the millimetric control of the Wildcat, this of course talking at super refinement level. Check Udin's interview on the Phantom for the reasons on that forward dagger position.
Beyond the control , I'm sure the big fat transom is helping too for that little nose dive tendency in high winds & hard chop that can be solved too on sheeting hard the mainsheet as Esteban Blando told to me to do. In the sea I think it is more easy on the waves lenght.

On the racing we sadly had ten  5-6knot races out of 13. Two in 20-25knots and only one flat 11 knots perfection just double trapeze. But I also sailed it in some excellent 14knots the previous days.

In light weather, I had some awful embarrassing starts as reported, but I felt good speed so no excuses at all, on Sunday, another 4 light races where I improved the starts, although a wrong setting (a dying breeze got me off guard) didn´t let us fulfil the potential we had.

The Phantom has a rather sensitive setting in light weather , it is not that easy as say the Infusion or C2 or even the Wildcat, but it is possible to make it work. For ie Volker-Daneri ended 4th with one in the same light weather event, and won some races in 5 knots , also Ian Rodger led first weekend with 5 light wind races.

In those 11knots perfection we started in 2nd row, and went blasting the course and everyone else from behind, it was a magic carpet ride. Only Ian Rodger and Sergio Mehl (both top 25 last F18 Worlds) ended ahead of us but on a better start. Same high performance in 20-25 knots with a secured 3rd and 4th missed by a gybe capsize and  an 'annoying' buoy getting in the way..!

The boat was designed to excel in the mid range, and it showed. But it also flies above anything over 7-8knots where the Wildcat and the Phantom have a 'turbo'  or hotspot mode where you can feel what can be described as an additional "leverage" , where all comes together for a perfect ride and finesse sensation.
I sailed with a combo of 3 sail loft: SI Original Main, Landenberger Jib & Ullman Spi.

Critics can be plastic inserts for the top of the dagger case as we broke both, also things to improve is rudder system to fix it down in sailing position. On the sailng it is a quite technical boat in calm winds.

The pivot dagger special system I got asked about in some mails in July is.. useless!

All in all an excellent racing machine, with Pros / Cons as every single top design in the fleet.  I'm lucky enough on being able to race these past years my own RC , the local Cap ,  Infusion,  MKII, Wildcat , Tiger , Falcon at LA and now the Phantom. It gives you a good overview of what the class is all about.

Every boat in the class has it own good features, the beauty is being able to select the boat that suits you best to compensate your weak points or fit your local conditions. 

At the end no magic paint , sail, hull design or foil will give you alone the ability to win a race not even a complete event if you don´t train hard enough.

I would have liked to have another event on the Phantom  but I left the helm so my friend Gonzalo can find a more trained sailor to use  the full potential of his crew abilities and high performance of this F18.

On the fuzz created by this boat my final recommendation is that key operative Class officials must be required to be active sailors and should ask for expert technical knowledge in advance and of course before calling for votes on technical decisions.
Think how much time was waisted on futile discussions based on plain ignorant and badly informed assessments. To close the discussion Billy & Jeremy blasted the fleet at Grosseto with a gelcoat finished boat... Go figure...