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Topper sailing in a breeze

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: Dinghy classes
Forum Name: Technique
Forum Discription: 'How to' section for dinghy questions and answers
URL: http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=12409
Printed Date: 17 Jan 22 at 1:32am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Topper sailing in a breeze
Posted By: Longwayround
Subject: Topper sailing in a breeze
Date Posted: 03 Jun 16 at 9:53pm
I've recently rediscovered sailing. There's been a Topper sat round the side of my house for 16 years or so and finally I found somewhere to store it and sail it last month. My sailing skills are at best rusty: I sailed as a Sea Scout and Venture for eleven years until 1995 and barely at all since.

I'm fine sailing in lightish winds but was taken aback when, in a force four or so, I found myself completely unable to steer the boat. Obviously I'm doing something wrong. Your advice would be much appreciated.



Replies:
Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 03 Jun 16 at 10:01pm
At a guess, and it can be little more than that, I would say your sail was too baggy. Try more outhaul (and make sure you tie the clew down to the boom) more kicker and more downhaul to bend the mast and flatten everything off. If the downhaul is a rope to a clear on the mast, consider adding a purchase to give yourself a fighting chance of control.

Toppers are a hoot in a breeze, and a force 4 should only be the beginning of the fun!

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686


Posted By: Longwayround
Date Posted: 03 Jun 16 at 10:06pm
Thanks for your very prompt reply. This leads to my next question: my Topper is a 1979 vintage and still has most of the original fixtures and fittings. How easily can I add the newer kit which I see sold by the likes of Rooster to my boat? And does it really all have to cost as much as Rooster charge? My outhaul is pretty much impossible to adjust on the water and the same can be said for the downhaul.


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 03 Jun 16 at 10:40pm
No, it doesn't have to cost that much! Adding a purchase here and there, and a new cleat or 2, is all you need do to make the boat more fun. You probably not looking to win the world's, after all. Oddly, outhaul adjustment is the hardest to get right, as there is loads of friction.

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686


Posted By: Longwayround
Date Posted: 03 Jun 16 at 10:51pm
Phew! I was looking at all those possible upgrades and then thinking it would soon come to more than the cost of a newer Topper! I just need to find a good supplier somewhere then!

My wife and daughter have both signed up for sailing lessons so this boat's going to be getting a lot of use soon!


Posted By: Spike Boland
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 11:30am
Not a massive expense but when you up grade it tends to put more strain on other things.  You might well have the old boom with a boat that age.  Get an upgraded  kicker and put on the amount of tension needed to go fast when wind gets up then the old boom will break.   However overtime as everything gets upgraded it will get easier and more fun to sail.  Enjoy.

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Theres only one Spike Boland


Posted By: Longwayround
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 7:01pm
I suppose if I break the boom I then get a good excuse to upgrade that part...


Posted By: piglet
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 8:00pm
There is a fine line between investing in a saleable package and throwing good money after bad.
The OP didn't give us his sail number (or his weight) but I upgraded two 28### boats to squad spec for my sons, the boats were not measurably different to brand new boats AND I got all my money back on resale, less the umpteen sails I bought of course.
My 2pworth is, in order of importance:
1. If it's an old skinny boom, find another.
2. Buy a 6:1 triple block downhaul.
3. Replace the sail if it's blown out.
4. Decent 3:1 kicker that works
5. If old steel kicker hoops, replace with Rooster white straps.
That will get the boat into a raceable condition.
IMO. Sailing a Topper aft main is fundamentally wrong, old diehards will disagree, let them.
I would be getting a centre main kit.
How much so far?


Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 8:09pm
Why *fundamentally* wrong?


Posted By: Longwayround
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 8:55pm
Sail number 16736: the boat's not a lot younger than me! I'm also still aiming to get my weight down to 95kg (I may be the only person who trained to do a marathon and gained 20% body weight!)

I'm unlikely to race the thing in a long while. That said, however, I wouldn't want to promise that my 12-year old daughter will never race, it's just that she's more into kayaks and can't yet sail. I'm hoping that once she's learnt to sail she'll recognise the error of her ways. How would I know that my sail had blown out?


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 9:12pm
It will look all floppy and not at all like those used in pictures of squaddies sailing. Yes a 6:1 downhaul would be nice, but would probably rip the eye out of the sail. Even a 2:1 using an old block with a v jammer attached will help on the downhaul, just to get more fun in a breeze. A newer boom would be good if the old one really is the original skinny thing. That may have been bent and replaced, though. Easiest way to tell is to take a look at a newer boat and compare.

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686


Posted By: Longwayround
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 9:14pm
Fair point. This is my boat: https://flic.kr/p/GVVmRt" rel="nofollow - Ullswater last week .


Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 9:38pm
Bearing in mind the sometimes relatively modest cost of secondhand Toppers with all the bells and whistles, and the decidedly unmodest cost of purchasing all that stuff new I wouldn't be at all surprised if it were rather more economical to sell the current boat as is and buy one with all the trick stuff rather than upgrade it.


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 9:38pm
I've seen worse. Owned worse, actually, but yes, it is pretty blown out. It is possible to get fake Topper sails pretty cheaply, or secondhand ones from people who take it seriously. You'll be amazed at how much nicer the boat is to sail!

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686


Posted By: piglet
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 9:51pm
Nice photo, don't worry about the boat, just enjoy the scenery.
You are a tad over the perfect Topper race weight anyway.
I suspect 16### would be what is now called a 'pre-production' boat, never sure where that term came from but:
1. is the transom fitting a stainless plate or aluminium casting?
2. Is the bailer a plastic Superchute or a holt wedge shaped thing?

If aluminium casting and Holt bailer then it's a pre-production and probably wouldn't ever be worth more than a couple or 3 large rounds at the bar. Enjoy the boat as it is or consider trading.
If it's the later boat and doesn't leak then it's a viable foundation to build on.
Hard to tell but it doesn't look like a skinny boom in the photo.
The later 'fat' booms are the same size as the top section, 1 3/4" OD


Posted By: zippyRN
Date Posted: 06 Jun 16 at 11:49pm
Originally posted by JimC

Why *fundamentally* wrong?

especially given that  aft mainsheet is  how  the topper was designed ... 


i'm not sure where the  reference to 'pre -production'  and a 16k  sail number came  from ... 

surely pre-pro would be the toppers that were all or half GRP ... 


Posted By: Riv
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 7:21pm
Variety is the spice of life and there is nothing wrong with an aft main, quicker to tack in light winds and easier to learn.

Frankly I feel that the emphasis on centre main is a barrier to inclusion and probably puts people off, it is really quite diffficult to do well and requires good coaching at times. Aft main is a bit like paddling a SOT, dead easy and works well, and look at the number of SOTs! My club has a rapidly expanding Canoe, Kayak group and a stagnant dinghy group. I know why.

So lets embrace variety and enjoy the aft main.


Posted By: Longwayround
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 8:18pm
My boat is, unless I'm very much mistaken, equipped with the superchute and steel plate but even so it probably would be more economical to buy a newer Topper. That said, that would require me to spend all the money at once. :-)

Are there any genuine advantages to a centre main? 




Posted By: Longwayround
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 8:19pm
I am, by the way, delighted that my first post to this forum has got such a healthy discussion going. :-)


Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 8:57pm
Originally posted by Longwayround

Are there any genuine advantages to a centre main? 

Potentially controversial question!

The main reason, AIUI, that the Topper went to the centre main was that the RYA wanted all youth boats to be centremain so kids learned with them from the start. There's a kind of sense in that since relatively few boats use the aft main as a default option these days.

The centre main is not demonstrably faster round a race course in a Topper.

By preference I think I'd possibly teach kids with a centremain and adults with a stern main, but probably depends where and what they are going to sail to a considerable extent. Because a stern main is so much more intuitive than a centre main its much more trouble going from stern main to centre main than vice versa, but equally its more trouble to learn to sail in the first place with a centre main.

In higher performance boats a stern main has disadvantages, but such craft are tending to move from the conventional centremain with the last block on the floor to off the boom sheeting.


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 9:34pm
At large adult size, centre main will make the boat seem even more tiny, and you'll get the rope wrapped round your neck.

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686


Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 10:08pm
Fit a duck under to avoid strangulation.


Posted By: piglet
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 10:24pm
Originally posted by Longwayround

My boat is, unless I'm very much mistaken, equipped with the superchute and steel plate

Check your boom diameter, if it's 1 3/4" then you have a boat worth investing in.
As you rightly say, improving the boat you already have would spread the cost.


Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 07 Jun 16 at 11:32pm
Originally posted by piglet

you have a boat worth investing in.

You spend money on a boat, you don't invest in it.

With a boat of that age you might if lucky get 10% of what you spend back in increased value when you sell it.


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 08 Jun 16 at 6:50am
Originally posted by 423zero

Fit a duck under to avoid strangulation.


It isn't the bit along the boom, it is the bit from boom to boat when gybing or even tacking. To get clear when tacking or gybing facing forwards you have to move so far aft you sink the stern, especially if big enough that much time is spent central in the boat.

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686



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