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Midlands Topper Traveller Round 4 at Hollowell Sailing Club

by Midlands Topper Fleet 20 Jul 2018 16:57 BST 7 July 2018
Midlands Topper Traveller Round 4 at Hollowell © Victoria Turnbull

The events come around quickly this year as the topper programme is full on. After the light winds dogged our first 3 events all the sailors (hopefully) and the parents (definitely) were checking the wind forecast for the final round at Hollowell. A venue where the definition of wind shift if there is any is redefined. Despite the Thursday Windguru forecast of 4 knots gusting 3 and that's not a typo. Most were worried that another drifter was about to take place.

On arrival however we were all surprised by the fully flying flags and ripples on the water. The wind was coming in in waves and from various directions which albeit not a strong wind by any stretch of the imagination it looked like we would have our second windiest event of the series. The oppies were joining us for this shared event though many had jumped into toppers for the day.

Race 1 started with a very port biased line which David Peaty (returning from his stint on revision duty) made the most of and led the again napping fleet up the windward leg. Early leaders Jude Singleton with his local knowledge and series leader Greg Cornes led the chase. The fleet stayed more or less glued together for two laps, David managing to maintain his healthy lead from the chasing pack of nine boats. Towards the tail end of the fleet a great race was developing between Taylor Berry, Thomas Kelsall, Merryn Attridge and Thomas Regan all sailing around in a clump half the size of the pack chasing down the leaders.

Taylor managed to come out on top in this race of the younger sailors. At the front the panting wind had fallen away for the leaders on the downwind leg and the chasing nine boats waited for the next wave of wind which duly obliged and fired a nine abreast fleet of chasing Toppers downwind towards the leaders closing the gap to nothing at the final mark. As the leaders scrabbled round the mark in the enormous wind shadow the pack rounded nine abreast leaving David to finish just ahead of Greg with Ben Paling coming in third and the committee boat scrabbling for their pens as the clump passed through the finish line. At the back there was a photo finish between Merryn and Thomas K with Merryn very narrowly pipping Thomas in the final few yards.

After a reset of the line race 2 got under way again David showed the fleet how to start showing that revision is not detrimental to your sailing and the usual guys began the chase with Dan Keenan joining in after a disastrous race1. By mark 1 Will Thomas had taken over the lead to chase David down with Dan third and Greg fourth. The girls were having a good tussle for the honour of being the lead girl. Hazel McDonnell and Annabel Turnbull were side by side into mark 2 as the wind lessened for a while condensing the whole fleet up again. Greg took over the lead from David and Will and Dan was left to follow his brother Oli Keenan who had worked his way up to fourth with a blistering downwind leg along the shoreline.

At the end of lap 1 a stream of eight boats led the following clump of another eight boats which were pursued by Charlie Turnbull after making a fifth row start. As the leaders made their way to mark 1 for the second time Oli took the lead with Will behind and Dan third. Annabel led a line of three girls - Ellen Morley had overhauled Hazel and was working her way up the fleet. With the fickle shift wind the game of snakes and ladders together with skilled sailing saw Greg finish ahead of David with Oli third and Ellen in sixth as the first girl. The chasing pack to the leaders was led by a recovering Charlie Turnbull who managed to scrape an eighth after his start.

After a lunch break the racing resumed and race 3 got under way with Ben leading Ellen and Annabel in the early stages. Dan headed off left to the full agreement of the watching back seat sailors and David headed off to the right. Annabel lead the fleet around mark 1 with Dans strategy getting him there in second with Will third and Thomas Kelsall in his first event in fourth. By mark 3 Annabel, Dan and Will were three abreast as Will took over the lead. By the end of lap 1 there were seven boats vying for the lead in what was developing as the most exciting race for spectators this year. Dan again went left and overtook Will and Thomas K headed off right but didn't fare as badly as the spectators were predicting.

Jude headed off right and found the increased wind first and took over the lead to become the fourth clear leader of the race so far and we had only just started lap 2. David by now was suffering from over revising and missed the gate as did Thomas K and the both dropped places correcting their error. At the top end of the course Jude was still leading as the rest of the fleet hit a lighter patch of wind. Hazel and Dan were now heading the slowly moving chasing pack with a few other local boats up there joining in the apparent fruitless chase of Jude. The lead extended out to nearly the whole leg as Jude crossed the line in front of Hazel followed by Greg, Dan, Will and Ben.

After an ice cream break provided by the club race 4 got underway in what was to be an even more exciting race than the previous one. Thomas Chapman led the fleet away with a great start with Dan, Ben and Hazel spearheading the pack. Thomas C lead the fleet around mark 1 followed by Charlie who had come from nowhere after another lackadaisical start (and not suffering from any ill effects of over-revising) Will, Dan and Jude. At the end of lap 1 Charlie had taken over the lead with Will and Ben following his transom. Back in eighth place Charlie Hopkinson was chasing down Jude and Merryn as the fleet compressed at the leeward mark. Charlie still lead and was able to extend the lead. After the windward leg Will had taken over from Charlie at the head of the pack and was off trying to build a lead.

Another compression of the fleet saw Ben and David join the Battle for the lead. By the start of lap 3 there were five boats abreast as Greg had managed to catch up with the front runners. Ben headed off left, managed to get through the gate without tacking and then tacked on a big header and the resultant apparent lift on the opposite tack and only having to do one more tack to get to the windward mark put him way ahead of the rest as they were putting in multiple tacks to be on the right shift to get to mark 1. Charlie Will and Greg gave chase as David dropped away out of contention for the time being just in front of Annabel the leading girl. Ben had a large lead but will had made inroads into it and was about six boat lengths behind as Ben rounded the last mark for the short run to the finish of the scheduled three lap race.

The spectators were cheering him on but a savvy Will had tacked at the mark and was on the shortest route to the line. It was agonising for the spectators as it was hard to tell if Ben would manage to hold his lead or would Will's quick thinking pay off. It looked like Ben would do it but Will had great boat speed and crossed the line first by about four seconds after a nail-biting end to the day.

Another enjoyable day of very close exciting (to watch) Topper racing in the Midlands was over. Many thanks to our hosts Hollowell who as usual were most friendly and welcoming and the ice cream break was a great idea and well received.

Prizes were awarded to:

1st Overall and 1st Boy – Greg Cornes – Chase SC
2nd Overall and 2nd Boy – David Peaty – Upton Warren SC
3rd Overall and 3rd Boy – Will Thomas – Notts County SC
1st Girl and 7th Overall – Annabel Turnbull – RYA
2nd Girl and 9th Overall – Hazel McDonnel – Hollowell SC
1st U13 – Charlie Hopkinson – Notts County SC
2nd U13 – Merryn Attridge – Swarkestone SC
1st Optimist – Tate Singleton – Hollowell SC

Full results [PDF]

Next event is the start of the 2018/19 series which begins in September at Draycote SC on the 15th of September and will end in July 2019. Keep an eye on the Midlands pages of the Topper website for more dates to be added once we know the squad dates and NS series dates for 2018/19.

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