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Rooster Topper London & South East Region Traveller Round 7 at Hastings

by Philip Blurton 26 Jun 11:48 BST 22-23 June 2019

Topper dinghy sailing dominated the weekend events at Hastings & St Leonards Sailing Club.

On Saturday the club hosted a training session run through the London & South East region of the International Topper Class Association (ITCA). Fourteen young Topper sailors from the south spent the day with two dinghy coaches, learning how to improve their Topper racing skills. Conditions were perfect and under clear skies and in warm sunshine, the sailing area had a Mediterranean feel.

On Sunday a Topper Open meeting was held where learning from the training was put into action. Fifteen youth sailors entered the four race competition which formed part of the London & South East Topper Traveller series.

In the morning winds was easterly force two to three, but increasing. It was an opportunity for sailors from inland clubs to familiarise themselves with sailing in tide and waves, and, for some, a reminder to check the course board before starting; a number of sailors misread the instructions, adding unnecessary distance to their route around the course. James Crossley of Datchet Water SC won the race with Henry Koe of South Bank SC second and Antonio Pascal of Island Barn SC third.

In the second race, competitors were now familiar with the course but could not disrupt the running order at the front of the fleet where Crossley, Koe and Pascal were again first, second and third respectively. During a break for lunch, the wind began to build and back slightly to the north, bringing sudden gusts along with the overall increase in wind strength. Fitness levels, skills in higher winds and concentration were now more important. Two sailors decided not to compete further and two more retired during the third race. Once again the top sailors found themselves in the same order across the line, frustrating for all bar first placed Crossley, for whom overall victory now seemed certain. By the start of the final race, the winds were touching force five. Boats were moving at considerable speed on the reaches and capsizes were occurring more often.

Signs of fatigue were beginning to show across the fleet. Of the original fifteen entries to the competition, nine entered the final race and only seven completed. This time Pascal managed to gain an edge over Crossley, taking first place comfortably ahead of his rival in second. Third place went to the only female sailor in the competition; Maddie Childs form Datchet Water SC.

Despite the change in positions in the final race, the overall competition winner was still Crossley; Koe was second and Pascal third. Best placed Hastings & St Leonards SC entrant was Isaac Herriot whose positions improved across the races, taking fifth in the final race. Also completing from Hastings & St Leonards SC were Lucas Terry and Jack Gunson. Supporting the training and running the open meeting had required considerable planning and resourcing by the club.

Both events passed off successfully; skills were enhanced, racing was exciting and sailors and their families across the region had come together to share the fun. All involved considered it worth the effort and was a feather in the cap for Hastings & St Leonards Sailing Club who had hosted the events.

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