Please select your home edition
Musto 2017 728x90 Surefooted
Product Feature
TridentUK Dinghy Stacker For Towing - Laser or Topper
TridentUK Dinghy Stacker For Towing - Laser or Topper
Boat Insurance from Noble Marine

Full racing risks
New for old cover

Topper Open at Crawley Mariners

by Jeff Smith 29 Apr 16:28 BST 21 April 2019
Topper Travellers at Crawley Mariners © Jeff Smith

Arriving at Hedgecourt lake at 8:20 I was surprised but pleased to find several volunteers busy preparing power boats and readying the galley. Not so pleasing was to see the mirror surface to the lake.

There was little point in considering delaying racing as the forecast was for an uninspiring 6mph all day, better than the 4mph predicted the day before. As the morning progressed some ripples appeared and spirits lifted.

All sixteen Toppers were on the water and ready for a prompt 11:00 start, no stragglers arriving at the last minute, and most sailors having time to test the wind up the first beat. This was really encouraging; parents who gave up their Easter Sunday could feel proud.

The start of race 1 was also impressive everyone was close to the line and looking good, one boat being a little premature and being recalled. Johnny Woolgar established an early lead which he maintained for all four laps for a convincing victory with Jack Hardy coming second. Joseph Mole and Luka Franklin had a tight battle for the line with Joseph clinching third place by the smallest of margins.

The wind strengthened for race 2 with lap times decreasing significantly, the fleet staying closer together. Luka Franklin established an early lead, chased by Andy Peng and Johnny Woolgar, he held on for the win.

An extra beat was added to the course for race 3. The fleet got away to a clean start. Encouragingly all boats were on the same short fourth leg at the same time. Lap 2 saw the wind die completely, only to recover enough for a third lap, accompanied by some major shifts.

For race 4 a general recall was necessary, during the minutes to the restart the wind was probably at its best.

Johnny Woolgar repeated his race 1 performance to take races 3 and 4.

It was really encouraging that all the boats finished all the races, in sometimes frustrating conditions.

One of the parents who were assisting asked where her son could improve, so here are some of my general observations from the day.

Further down the fleet it was noticeable that time was being lost through poorly executed tacks. In light winds it is critical to maintain boat speed through tacks and to seek clear wind. Also tacks were being performed without adequate planning, resulting in having to tack again quickly to keep clear or tacking into the wind shadow of another boat.

It was interesting to note the differences in sail settings on the run passed the race platform even amongst boats in the leading group, two side by side one with full kicker the other with a lot of downhaul. Also upwind there were differences. So there is room for improvement even near the front of the fleet.

When the wind dropped to undetectable there was noticeable frustration in some boats, the helms moving around a lot trying to get their sails to set. In those conditions movement just stops the boat, sometimes you just have to keep still and be patient.

I saw a couple of incidents where better knowledge of the rules could have helped, the first case was between a boat on a downwind leg an one upwind, both were on starboard but failed to appreciate the other was, in this case windward boat should have kept clear. There was no contact but rhythm and concentration in both boats was disturbed. In the second case an inside boat at a mark was not given the room he was entitled to, but he took penalty turns having clipped the other boat. It is worth practising taking turns as sailing the boat hard through the turns minimises the time lost. Conversely it was great to see Henry spotting a gap when two boats rounded wide gaining himself two places, more experienced sailors would have shut the gap and maintained their position.

Keeping clear air and spotting where the wind is are key in these conditions.

Related Articles

Toppers at Carsington
GJW Direct National Series Round 5 Round 5 of the Topper GJW Direct National Series saw 163 Toppers competing at Carsington Sailing Club, set amidst the glorious Peak District countryside, over the weekend of 8-9 June. Posted on 22 Jun
Topper Travellers at Horning
16 competitors including 10 visitors from across the region Saturday 15th June saw a Topper Traveller take place at Horning Sailing Club, with 16 competitors participating, including 10 visitors travelling from across the region, as well as a number of competitors from the home club. Posted on 18 Jun
Topper Midland Championship at Notts County
Record number of helms take part Despite the horrendous downpours during the preceding week Saturday morning saw blue skies and a forecast of 10 gusting 15 knots as 34 sailors registered for the event. Posted on 17 Jun
60th Brown Cup Scottish Schools Championships
A two-day training camp and then one important race The idea of widening sailing competition beyond club membership to local schools was the idea of Jack Brown, who was the Commodore of Loch Earn Sailing club from 1960-1962. LESC are very proud to have hosted this event for 60 years. Posted on 11 Jun
Toppers at Waldringfield
Coaching day, followed by Open Meeting with a remarkable 28 entries Waldringfield Sailing Club held their first ever Topper Open Weekend on the 1st and 2nd of June. The club's strength lies not only in its idyllic setting on the River Deben estuary in Suffolk, but also its focus on class racing. Posted on 6 Jun
Toppers Downs
Rooster London & South East Travellers' event Downs Sailing Club hosted the fifth Traveller of the season. A good sunny day with the wind being a north easterly ranging between five & ten mph. There were thirteen competitors from all parts of the L&SE region. Posted on 31 May
Midlands Topper Traveller at Swarkestone
Plenty to concentrate on Swarkestone SC, hosted a fleet of 25 Topper sailors for round 5 of the series despite the forecast for light winds. The race officer succeeded in getting the first race away with even wind across the start line. Posted on 28 May
GJW Direct Abersoch Dinghy Week preview
New for this year is a Coached Regatta Fleet GJW Direct Abersoch Dinghy Week is excited to announce that this year, not only has it introduced a Catamaran Class, it is also now offering a Coached Regatta Fleet. Posted on 26 May
London Sailing League at Hillingdon
20 sailors took to the water in Lasers, Toppers, and Teras This was an event to allow participants from London-based clubs and RYA Centres to take part in class racing in a relaxed and friendly environment in different locations across the capital. Posted on 17 May
Midlands Topper Traveller at Northampton
A consistent performance by Iris Singleton to win As the sailing season starts to get into full swing the Midlands Topper Traveller Series 2018-19 reached the halfway point. So far the first three rounds at Draycote, Carsington and Banbury were all extremely close events. Posted on 12 May