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The Topper Book by Dave Cockerill & John Caig

Midlands Topper Traveller Round 4 at Swarkestone Sailing Club

by Midlands Topper Area 3 Jul 2018 07:08 BST 30 June 2018
Topper Midlands Traveller Round 4 at Swarkestone © Iain Ferguson

We are all now getting accustomed to the warm welcome of the Midlands clubs. This event was no exception in the midst of the heatwave and for once ripples on the water. There was that much wind that the 4.2 rigs were out and reefs were taken.

25 sailors, 7 from the host club, including our second Masters entry of the year and one sailor from the north west, joined the regulars for our first windy event of the year or our first event with any wind this year.

Race 1 was away at the first attempt with a few boats across the course looking like they were going to hit the first mark in the lead. Keiran Bray was looking good in the first stages out of the start on the far side with Annabel Turnbull also looking good. As the fleet made their final approach to mark 1 in the more sheltered part of the lake six boats were vying for the head of the fleet. Eventually it was Charlie Turnbull followed closely by Greg Cornes Kate Robertson, Jude Singleton, Will Thomas and Annabel Turnbull who led the fleet round the windward mark.

Mark 2 was uneventful but mark 3 became the game changer. Charlie nearly had a swim and the following boats avoided him and took a line downwind in the increasing breeze to the left of the course. At the bottom end Greg, Kate and Will had overhauled Charlie and headed off upwind. In the pack as the sailors moved away from the shelter of the trees the safety boats were kept busy with the numerous capsizes caused by the ever increasing gusts (not that we are complaining). The race ended with series leader Greg chased down by Will who was followed by a recovering Charlie and behind them Dan Keenan had managed to work his way up the fleet to 4th place only to be pipped on the line by leading girl and local sailor Kate.

Race 2 saw Will Thomas show the fleet how to start at the port end with a cracking start. Immediately tacking on the gun onto port on the far side clearing the fleet easily as they were all still trying to get over the line. Greg Jude and Annabel gave chase. Dan got a great lift on the far side to bring himself into contention for the lead at mark 1. Will's flying start had paid dividends and he rounded the windward mark in the lead with Jude and Greg behind. Keiran and Ben Paling were the next to round followed by the pack where somewhere in the middle of it the 3 4.2 sailors were becoming inseparable.

Ross Ferguson was followed very closely by Merryn Attridge and Eddie Paling despite incurring a 720 in the gusty lower end of the course in more close racing in the sub fleet. Will and Jude lead the fleet to the bottom of the course into the Bermuda Triangle where quite a lot of mysterious place changes and extended leads or lost leads seemed to happen. Will managed to ease into a substantial lead over Jude in the aforementioned area and strangely enough Greg uncharacteristically fell down the fleet. By the 3rd beat Dan had worked his way up the fleet and despite a fluffed tack overhauled Will to take the second race and his first ever traveller race win. Ben Paling came in a well earned 3rd after some great downwind sailing and fending off Charlie and Greg. Ross was the first 4.2 to finish just ahead of Eddie. The girls were having quite a battle too with Kate and Annabel swapping places and Kate just managing to finish ahead as 1st Girl in 6th.

At the lunch break we had 2 different race winners, the usual leader had just finished in 5th place so it was Mr consistent Will with two 2nd places leading the event. It was clear at this stage that the event was going to be closely contested. The racing on the water was of a very high standard and many sailors were having great moments. The queue behind will was very close with Dan and Greg on 6 points and Charlie on 7. It was all to play for after the break.

Race 3 again the fleet were caught napping as Will did another signature start pursued by Charlie, Dan and for a while Oli Keenan. Will, Charlie and Dan lead the fleet round the windward mark and Iris Singleton was right up the sharp end this time but unfortunately and honestly infringed the rules somewhere and fell down the fleet as she did her 720. Annabel made good progress to mark 2 and lead the girls at this point. The 4.2s were now not content with following each other as they rounded mark 1 three abreast. Meanwhile in the Bermuda Triangle Greg took the lead from Will, and had overhauled Dan and Charlie. Kate had made progress and Ben was up there too. Greg scored his 2nd win of the day with Dan just behind. 3rd place was not clear. Charlie, Kate and Will were all in different areas of the lake but converging on the line. Each having different gusts and shifts. They finished in that order separated by less than 1 boat length. Further back Kieron Bray and George Colquitt were racing to the line for 11th place in another photo finish which necessitated another trip to the race hut to find out who had crossed in 11th. This time Keiran had just inched ahead of George and in the 4.2 fleet Merryn had taken the line first in the 4.2 fleet.

Race 4 was another clean start and the usual leaders were there or thereabouts. 4 boats rounded mark 1 together Dan, Will, Charlie and Ben with Greg down in 7th place and Taylor berry right on his transom. The lead 4 headed off and by mark 3 Charlie had taken the lead. Ben fell away slightly from the leading three who spent the rest of the race right to the finish in a line of Charlie, Dan and will despite them all trying out different upwind routes to gain an advantage over each other they always converged at the marks in a line 1 boat length apart. Meanwhile back in the 4.2 fleet they were again side by side with Ross leading the way. Again photo finishes for 4th place as Annabel was charging up on Greg as the watching parents were undecided who would make it there first. A handy lift for Annabel helped her just squeak in front of Greg to give him his second 5th place of the day.

After the two protests of the day had been heard and thrown out the results showed what a close affair it had been. After four races and one discard Dan had won with 5 points but the next three boats all ended up on 7 points with Greg coming 2nd by virtue of 1 wins, Charlie 3rd with one race win and Will 4th.

Many thanks to the Swarkestone SC Commodore and the club members who welcomed us, looked after us and put on a great event that was extremely well run.

Prize Winners:

1st overall & 1st Boy: Dan Keenan (Tamworth SC)
2nd overall & 2nd Boy: Greg Cornes (Chase SC)
3rd overall & 3rd Boy: Charlie Turnbull (RYA)
1st Girl & 5th overall: Kate Robertson (Swarkestone SC)
2nd Girl & 7th overall: Annabel Turnbull (RYA)
3rd Girl & 9th overall: Emma Robertson (Swarkestone SC)
1st U13 and 14th overall: George Colquitt (West Kirby SC)
2nd U13 and 15th overall: Charlie Hopkinson (Notts County SC)
1st 4.2 Rig and 19th overall: Ross Ferguson (Blithfield SC)
1st Reefed Rig and 22nd overall: Patrick Hill (Swarkestone SC)
1st Master and 23rd overall: Gill Robinson (Swarkestone SC)
1st Midlands Traveller race win award: Dan Keenan (Tamworth SC)

Full results can be found here (PDF format)

The final event, series prize giving and summer camp is at Hollowell SC on the 7th July starting at 10.30am with bring and burn after sailing so bring your own food to cook on the club barbecue. See the Topper website for details.

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