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Rooster South East Topper Traveller at Docklands Sailing & Watersports Centre

by John Middleton 10 May 2018 19:42 BST 5 May 2018
Rooster South East Topper Traveller at Docklands © Katie Wilkinson

On a hot sun-filled day, with moderate winds of 5-8 knots (gusting up to 10-12 knots) 22 young sailors took to Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre to compete in the coveted Topper South East Open Series round 4. With thirteen different club/centres being represented from the south east, an array of talented sailors was on display for all to see.

With the wind blowing easterly down the dock, a trapezoid course was laid to spread out the competitive fleet. Docklands, notorious for its wind shifts would provide the perfect platform to stretch the mental faculties of the fleet and prove a challenge even for the most accomplished sailors.

The day started with the morning brief by RO John Middleton, comprising of four back-to-back races and an emphasis on fair play, protests and fun. With the first whistle at 11.15 am, a nervous fleet took to the course sizing up the start line and working on their starts. Aaron Evans first to launch, worked out the slight port bias of the line, and nailed the start on go. After have a cracking first beat, Aaron was almost a leg ahead most of the fleet as he won the first race, he was surely the man to beat on the day. Leo Wilkinson and Bill Hudson followed in second and third.

A more assured fleet started well in the second race, with more boats pushing towards the edge of the start line. A clean start saw Leo Wilkinson, Bill Hudson and Aaron Evans lead the fleet early on in the beat. Rounding the windward mark all 3 were battling it out for the lead. With Leo leading he wasn't going to give up the lead easily. Tactical covering up the following beats gave Leo the win followed by Bill, then Aaron.

With the top three all on level points, the third race now had a lot riding on it. As the day went on the breeze started to hot up and boat handling skills were put to the test. A couple of capsizes and close calls prior to the start had everyone on their toes. Most of the fleet were a lot more assertive now, knowing that the final two races had a lot riding on them. Another clean start with some of the boats on the line at go had some fresh faces at the top end of the fleet. Thomas Starks, of DSWC took the windward mark with an assured beat. Right behind him were the table toppers Aaron, Leo and Bill. As the laps progress Arron with some good guest management took home first with Leo second and Bill third.

The final race was now going to decide who would win the regatta. With one discard, all three boys had to be on their 'A game'. Most of the front row was pushing the boundaries of the start line. On go, the individual recall flag was raised with two boats over. One boat returned, however the other continued... Lawrence Donnelly with a cracking start and a powerful first beat controlled the race throughout, with Bill, Aaron and Leo chasing. As Lawrence passed the line it was with regret that he was OCS on the whistle, not taking away however the cracking race he had. Bill got his first win of the day with Aaron second and Leo third.

With one amicable protest hearing and many happy faces, all were waiting for the end of day prize giving. A strongly contested Topper Open series win went to Aaron Evans of SWSC, second place to Leo Wilkinson of MSC and third to Bill Hudson of NSSC. All three are ones to watch for the future. DSWC club winner was Thomas Starks who had a strong fifth place in the third race. Female winner was Heloise Shadbolt of WSC, who had fifth in the second and fourth race. And finally, the highest non-squad winner was Miles Vidler who had two strong sixth places finishes.

A big thank you goes out to Rooster Sailing who sponsored the event and Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre for hosting.

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