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GJW Direct ITCA Topper Inland Championships at Grafham Water Sailing Club - Shoreham report

by Joe Warwicker 1 Jul 2021 14:11 BST 26-27 June 2021
Topper Inland Championships at Grafham © GWSC

Joe Warwicker won the GJW Direct Topper 5.3 Inland Championships at Grafham this past weekend, and has written about his experience, looking at what was important to focus on in each race.

Day 1

I travelled up to Grafham for my last Topper event hoping to win against some tough competition, with 99 boats entered and the very good Shoreham boats: Edwin, Hugo, Samson, Rhys, Reuben, Kaytlin and Leo.

The first day arrived with the forecast expecting the wind to be around 7 knots from the north east. We launched at 11:20 for a 12:00 start and eventually, after some delay, the first race got under way with a port bias line. Boats who started by the pin reached the top mark in the top ten but it was also a very shifty and unpredictable day so plenty of gains could be made following a bad start, but the main priority throughout the day was to find the pressure on the course and play the shifts.

After a tricky race I had managed to win my flight race and Edwin Cross managed to win his flight race, setting up the start of a tough battle for top spot. Leo Yates and Robin Phipps claimed second in their flights.

The second race started with a big left shift so the top mark could be laid from the pin, meaning it was a drag race to the top mark, which put more emphasis on downwind speed and tactics as the fleet was very tightly packed. By the end of the light and shifty race Edwin had picked up another win and Daniel Parker picked up his first win of the regatta. I had finished in second and Katherine Burgess also claimed a second place.

The final race of the day was yet again a light and tricky race with the pin being favoured; again it was important to start close to there but it was more important to start in clear air with the wind being so light. It was crucial to find those shifts, as one correct shift could get you from tenth to first.

After another difficult race I managed to finish on top meaning I was first overall going into tomorrow with it all to play for. Leo Yates also finished and Edwin finished second along with Bjorn Handly.

Day 2

The forecast was for the wind to be between 12-20 knots from the north east which turned out to be very accurate. Today would be more about keeping the boat flat without depowering the sail too much, but still finding the pressure as it was patchy across the race course.

The fourth race got under way and the difference in pressure was the difference between getting to the mark in the top three or top ten. Edwin took another race win putting him back in the lead overall. Hugo Valentine started his surge up the table after getting his first race win, leaving me to finish second along with Jadon.

The next race was similar to the first in terms of pressure differences but this time the wind had shifted slightly right giving the starboard end of the start bias, which was crucial to take advantage of. Roo Purves utilised that to win by a long way, along with Clem Middle getting her first race win. Hugo took a second alongside Edwin.

This left the last race to be the decider as to who would take the event win. Edwin was in pole position as he only had to stop me from winning. The race started, and going to the right side paid massively as the top three boats all came from that side - including me. We got to the second upwind and I had got into first but Edwin had started his climb up the fleet and by the time we reached the wing mark it was me and him up the front and it was a long battle going right down to the wire.

I managed to stay ahead winning the race meaning I won overall. Well done to Edwin who finished second after putting up a very good fight, and Hugo who finished third after climbing from seventh after the first day.

Also well done to all the Shoreham boats as they made up the top five boats overall and well done to everyone else who competed.

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