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Volvo GJW Direct Topper Winter Regatta at the WPNSA

by ITCA (GBR) on 3 Mar 25-26 February 2017
Volvo GJW Direct Topper Winter Regatta © Andre Ozanne

The Topper Winter Regatta for many is the chance to find out how all the hard autumn and winter training has paid off. From past events at Weymouth and Portland at this time of year the Winters has become known as the Tester, with Storm Doris and Ewan in full flow 2017 was no exception.

Saturday's forecast looked very un-promising with regular gusts to 29 and some peaks of up to 38 so a two hour postponement was hoisted and many Topper sailors took part in a kite hoisting competition set up by Simon Hiscocks from SHOCK sailing with a land based 49er training rig. Issued with gloves each sailor hoisted, sheeted on and dropped in a timed run pulling up some super smooth Marlow ropes. At 14.00 with no change to the weather pattern the wise decision to abandon racing was taken, giving many families a chance to head for some windy sightseeing or the rugby, A few stayed behind and marvelled through their binoculars with 6 29er youth squad boats tearing up the harbour showing a master class in big breeze sailing with inevitably some swimming in the big gusts.

With a reasonable weather window early on Sunday the decision to launch sailors at 8.15 was no big surprise to anyone with an eye on the forecasts and so 160 bleary eyed sailors were rigging up at 7 am onwards.

For the 5.3 fleet the launching took place with some breezy but sunny conditions alas racing started with a bitterly cold squall with reduced visibility. The first start sent the two flights out on to the outer trapezoid and the second start on the inner. Local sailor William Adler took the bullet and also Ben Willets Llangorse SC took the other start bullet. Coco Barrett Island Barn SC kept close to take a third and Scott Wilkinson Rye Harbour took a second. With the forecast showing the wind to build by 12.00 the race officer was looking at 3 races with 2 starts for four flights and so turn around time was conducted with great efficiency. Many sailors had launched with reefed sails and now the heavier sailors who had reefed started shaking them out, interestingly the first race saw quite a few sailors from 15th position and back reefed, clearly the extra acceleration off the start line helped those that could keep the boat under control with a full rig but a well sailed reefed boat was also competitive.

Race two saw Scott progress one place higher to take a bullet and Joseph Bradley Hill Head SC a bullet too, Isabel Wallwork took a second and Coco Barrett another third. Conditions were up and down with a wind range of 16 to 22 with some gains to be made in the gusts with the wind angle change.

The fleet kept mostly upright and having to be so active the sailors remained warm in the cold conditions faces were rosy and determined and the reaches were very fast and enjoyable some sailors looking like they were gripping on with their toe nails as they hiked super hard.

Race three went Scotts way and William took a bullet in the other start so the tussle between these two sailors was all set if they were to get a fourth race in. With everyone apart from a few ufds being very courteous on the start Race Management felt they could get a fourth race in before Ewan showed up in full force. Andrew Homer Dalgety Bay SC and Dan Mcgoughey Donaghadee SC took the bullets in this race and that put paid to William taking the overall win from Scott. Isabel just missed out on a podium spot but was first female with Coco second and Erin Mcilwaine third. Shout out to Miles Vidler from Crawley Mariners at his first big event gets the very helpful and friendly mention and thanks to his folks too for helping out.

Over on the western launch slip the 4.2 sailors prepped themselves for some fun with Ewan. While the 5.3s weathered the first race squall the 4.2s remained ashore. Launched and reaching out to their race area would certainly have woken them all up. With a number of regular 5.3 sailors feeling that the bigger rig might be a little too much it was anyones guess who would be collecting prizes at the end of the day. With two young female sailors experiencing their first National Series regatta I wonder what some parents thought as these girls fathers have 4 Olympic sailing medals between them ! The race officer got four races off in quick succession and clearly it was a day for the regular 5.3 sailors.

With 6 out of the top 6 overall being regular 5.3 sailors and 5 of those being in Zone squads I guess the regular 4.2s may have felt a little invaded. Ben Purrier took the overall 1st place with some great consistency and Natalie Annels took first female both from Parkstoone YC. My shout out goes to Harry Somerville from the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre in his first National series event he took out a 7th in the first race and finished overall in 18th I I wish I had seen his face after that first race, well done mate!

So thanks to the sponsors; Volvo Cars UK, GJW Direct Insurance, Rooster Sailing, Clip Displays, Harken & Optimun Time.

Many thanks to WPNSA, Peter and Sally's team at the Academy for the warm welcome and great facilities and a massive thanks to all the volunteers from rib towers to drivers to crews to registration to mark layers to Race management to scorers and race results and to Bill the WPNSA Bosun for his joie de vive.

And so we move swiftly North to the Derbyshire hills and reservoir of Carsington SC for National Series 3 on March 18th and 19th see you all there. The Class Association's entry page is here.

Please feel free to email the secretary if you have any questions regarding membership or entry procedure. The Friendly Class looks forwarded to seeing new and old faces.

Overall Results:

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