......This was writen with help from Steve for a recent magazine article.
A brief history of the marque.
33 years @ 220 London Road
In 1969, Stephen Baker Jnr & Melvyn ‘Ricky’ Richardson decided to have a go at building themselves a raceboat following several disappointments with hulls available from existing manufacturers.
The result was the Phantom 16 ‘Droop Snoot’. Steve & Melvyn campaigned the 16 with some success, including gaining the 1970 National Championship in class III B, this in boat 153.
In 1973 came the Phantom 18. No one could have imagined when this boat first appeared how in years to come it would dominate Offshore Circuit Racing the way it did. Right up to the present day, the 18 and it’s fairly recent successor, the P18 EXL ( popularly called the ‘19’ ) are hot contenders for the OCR classes.
In 1974, the 3 day week imposed on British Industry by the government (by limiting of electricity usage due to the miners strike) brought about the departure of Melvyn Richardson from Phantom Boats and production was halted. However, Steve carried on with other work at London Road Sittingbourne ultimately seeing the crisis through.
In 1975 came the Phantom 23. It’s roots lay in the P18 and the sleek machine brought great success for many racers in IIID. Steve and his father won the coveted Putney Calais Putney race of 1975 in their P23 ‘SPECTRE’
covering the 230 miles at the amazing average of 65mph
In 1979 another new model, the P21 arrived on the scene. Again, it had similarities with the P18 but with a fuller bow and deeper sides. However, this was a short lived model.
In 1980, 2 completely new models were tooled and produced, a Mk II P21 and a replacement for P23 with improved recovery and hull form similar to the 21. This was the Phantom 25, destined to become a very popular IIID race boat indeed.
In 1982 a 31 footer was commissioned by a customer, this would not be a Phantom production boat but became well know as a Phantom product. This was ‘Warlord’. Powered by a single Mercruiser racing engine and Speedmaster Sterndrive for UIM class II
In 1983, long standing Phantom customer Pete Armstrong & his wife Jan, wanted a boat for the 2nd running of the Round Britain Powerboat Race planned for 1984, Steve’s drawing board was again kept busy, the result being the Phantom 28 'BRUT'
. This boat was hugely successful in the Round Britain event , crewed by Peter, Jan & Steve, they walked away with a string of awards, including 1st in class & 3rd overall.
In the same year, another smaller design was undertaken, this was initially called the Phantom 600, but soon became known simply as the Phantom 20.
In 1986/7 some of the lessons learned from the Phantom 600 project were implemented in a re-vamp of the Phantom 21 running surface, later (’87), a new style deck was modelled for the 21. This is still the current design we see today.
Fast forward to 1994, A completely new Phantom 23 was produced. Looking very similar to the 21, but with a hull design intended to be more friendly in chop, the 23 also became the building blocks for the Phantom Evolution RHIB produced by Neil Holmes. This project was undertaken by Steve and Neil in around 2000, with early series production by Phantom Boats themselves.
1996 is the year the P18 got it’s length increased to 20’, a development program Steve did with OCR stalwart and multiple OCR nationals winner, Nick Barsch.
The last boat to leave the factory at 220 London Road Sittingbourne was a Phantom 23, in August 2001, this final build was destined for Europe.
Since that first Phantom 16 in 1969, over 1000 boats were produced at London Road, with numerous National, European & World titles being won in Phantom products in just about every class except Class1.