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Rooster Southern Topper Travellers Round 8 at Bosham Sailing Club

by Jake Atkins, Topper 45477 12 Oct 09:30 BST 8 October 2017

The Cobnor location of Bosham Sailing club in the beautiful setting of Chichester Harbour was the setting for the final round of the 2017 Rooster Southern Area Topper Traveller Series on the 8th October.

As the 48 Topper competitors rigged and sailed out to the race area, the forecast light breeze of around 6-8 knots had only really half materialised. Unfortunately, the tide was not similarly deterred and was flooding healthily into the harbour.

With these challenging sailing conditions and a relatively crowded harbour, the Race officer had little choice but to set the narrow Windward/Leeward race course alongside the main boat channel of Itchenor Reach. This kept the fleet close to home but made headway into the tide very hard work for the best of the fleet and so as the countdown reached the start time, it was obvious that only a handful of boats could make progress over the start line and towards the slower moving water next to the shoreline. The race was abandoned in the hopes of the wind speed increasing or the strength of the tide abating.

The fleet made another valiant attempt at starting but with the wind patchy at best the current was too strong to overcome and many of the fleet were struggling not to get carried away down-tide. This race was also abandoned and the RIBS helped regroup the fleet back together with fingers crossed for improved conditions.

Undeterred, and with a steadier although still only light breeze settling in, the Race Officer set the fleet back into start sequence and the parents watching in earnest for the opposite bank willed their competitors to make the vital upwind progress in to the shallower waters. Most of the 5.3 fleet made it to the windward mark eventually, as the tide weakened and allowed the competitors to get further away from the faster moving waters. Needless to say the Downwind leg of the course with the tide was easy progress, but the beat back up to the Start boat posed the same problems of the first leg.. Unfortunately despite the keen perseverance of many of the fleet, the wind simply dropped away to practically nought and even holding station again the flow became a real challenge. A handful of the front runners having now crossed the finish line of a shortened course, set the "time-limit" clock running to achieve a race finish and thus count a result. Only 14 boats actually managed this – cruel luck for several competitors. First boat home was Aaron Evans, followed by Dan Batty, Phoebe Hutchings, then myself and Dan Kimish match-race style, tack-for-tack right up to the line.

Luckily, the clouds cleared and with the brighter weather came a stronger and more consistent breeze. The Race Officer was able to take advantage of the deeper water area of the opposite shore – much to the delight of the parents and supporters who were treated to possibly the closest race start viewing position ever!

The second race proper was started in much more like the forecasted wind strength and a similar simple Windward / Leeward course allowed close racing along the Cobnor shoreline area. The Topper 4.2 sailor's having now waited all morning for enough wind to progress against the tide had their patience rewarded. The start in steady wind saw the fleet away relatively easily and made for a nice tight first beat, close to the spectators. Aaron Evans, Sam Brackley, Fred Barry, James Curtis and myself led the fleet around the first windward/leeward leg of a two beat race. On the second leg the lead boats changed around as places were traded in the challenging conditions.

The final leg saw the positions change with Aaron Evans again leading through the line, followed by Sam Brackley, myself, James Curtis and Dan Kimish.

In the 4.2 fleet Dan Perkins took the line honours, from Oscar Fry and Ryan Davies. In the Regatta Fleet local sailor Sam Gibbon was first with Sebastian Tomlinson second.

The final start was a complete 180 degree change around in start conditions, as the breeze was still light but steady though the tide had turned and was now pushing the competitors hard across the line. Needless to say the Toppers were keen as ever to be on the line and all by a couple of boats were over when the flags dropped! A patient race Officer resisted the temptation to put up the Black flag whilst the fleet came to grips with the challenge of holding back from the line until being released. The start got away on the third attempt and saw Monique Vennis-Ozanne take an early and convincing lead. She was followed around the top mark by Maisie Bristow and Aaron Evans. On the the next Upwind leg I managed to get past Aaron and attempt to chase down Monique and Maisie who were getting away from the fleet. The finishing positions were Monique Vennis-Ozanne, Maisie Bristow, myself (Jake Atkins) followed by Robin Stein and Aaron Evans.

The 4.2 fleet saw Dan Perkins finish first again, followed again by Oscar Fry and this time Jude Smith.

The Regatta Fleet was won again by Sam Gibbon who was in fact the sole finisher in this fleet.

In summary it was an enjoyable sailing day in very pleasant weather with challenging tidal conditions. The race officer made a very good job of keeping the fleet racing.

The combined results of this event and the Chichester Sailing Club Open meeting earlier in the year, meant I took away the Chichester Harbour Trophy, and with his two race wins saw Aaron Evans of Silver Wing SC take away the overall win for the days racing.

The full Rooster Traveller Series prize giving will be held at the forthcoming Hill Head Southern Area Champs in a fortnight.

From the Southern Topper Area team, massive thanks to Rooster Sailing for the continued sponsorship of the 2017 series and providing the highly sought after exclusive Rooster Sailing Southern Area visors, and to Bosham Sailing Club for hosting a great weekend of Topper coaching and racing.

The final event in the Southern Area 2017 calendar will be the Area Championships taking place at Hill Head SC on Sunday 22nd October. See you there?