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ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Round 5 at Northampton Sailing Club

by Mike Powell 13 Dec 2021 16:28 GMT 11 December 2021
Leaders Rounding mark 2 in race 1 of the ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Round 5 at Northampton © Gavin Fleming

For round 5 of the Midlands Topper Traveller 2021-2022 Series we headed to Northampton Sailing Club on Saturday 11th December as part of a planned eight-event series starting September and running through to March. Northampton SC is a venue that the Midlands Topper Travellers Series has not visited since 2019, so for many of our new sailors, this would be there first time here.

It was great to welcome visiting Topper Sailors from other regions with Harry and George Sims travelling from Wales and East Sailor; Graydon McLeod Fleming joining the Midlands Traveller racing for a second time this series.

Northampton SC has a superb stretch of inland water enabling great courses to be set. The wind for the event was forecast to be light south westerly in the morning and building throughout the day and moving more southerly.

Winds were in fact surprisingly light for Race 1, a number of the lead boats (Joe Rowe, Jessica Powell and Katherine Gunn) were over the line so had duck back below meaning that Caitlin Thomas was able to capitalise on this error and take the lead towards the windward mark. Winds were still very light and Caitlin was just able to round the windward mark in the time permitted, with Graydon McLeod Fleming (Hunts SC) closely behind.

Wind started to fill in which would help the following pack of Tara Ewbank (Chase/Staunton Harold SC), Katherine Burgess (Royal Harwich SC) and the recovering Joe Rowe (Draycote) to try and chase down Caitlin and Graydon. However; this distance between them was too large and with this being only a one lap race, Caitlin was able to hold on from Graydon to take first race honours.

With the wind improving for Race 2, the race director changed the course from Trapezoidal to a Windward Leeward arrangement. It would be Katherine Gunn (Notts County SC) taking the lead on the first beat with Joe Rowe and Jessica Powell following behind. However Jessica was not quite on the lay-line and started to pinch for the windward mark. This enabled Caitlin to sail over top of Jessica to grab third.

With this race now planned for two laps, the field started to spread out and Katherine took a commanding lead, with the following three boats fighting it out for second place. Jessica was able to regain third place back on the upwind beat of the second lap and started to chase down Joe. Katherine was in clear air and used this to her advantage; keeping hold of the lead to win race 2.

The duel for second was set for a match race to the finish; Joe initially had lead at the final Leeward mark with Jessica just behind, however a quick double tack from Jessica enabled her to get some clear air and be windward of Joe, snatching second place by half a boat length.

So at the halfway point of the event, Caitlin was leading with four sailors (Graydon, Joe, Jessica and Katherine Gunn) all tied for second; we were all set for a great afternoon of Topper Racing to see who could take the Round 5 win.

After a short lunch break Race 3 was under way and with the winds continuing to pick up and shift more Southerly, it was Jasper Focardi Doling (Shropshire) who spotted this and started at the pin end. Unfortunately for Jasper, he was not able to make this pay and tacked off, with Katherine Gunn building on her Race 2 win, who again took the early lead followed by Caitlin Thomas and then Graydon close behind. The positions would remain unchanged and Katherine was able to stretch her lead and win Race 3 with Caitlin finishing second.

Going into the final race Caitlin had put herself in a very strong position to take the event win and with discards now coming into play; only Katherine Gunn or Graydon had any mathematical chance of catching her.

With Race 4 under way, Jasper again started at the pin end, with the remaining sailors biased towards the committee boat. This time Jasper was able to make it pay and took the lead up to the windward mark, followed by Jessica and then Caitlin 3rd. Katherine Burgess was having a very strong final race of the day and was chasing hard in 4th just ahead of Felicity Angell (Draycote in fifth).

Jessica set about trying to catch Jasper on the second lap and started to close in on the second upwind beat, however Jasper held his nerve brilliantly and controlled his position downwind to win his first Midlands traveller race with Jessica finishing second and Caitlin third.

With great consistency throughout the day and winning race 1, it would be Caitlin Thomas (Notts County SC) taking top honours with her first Midlands Traveller Event win of the series, followed by Katherine Gunn second, and Jessica Powell taking third place.

It was great to see so many sailors in the 4.2 fleet with the racing being so close. Ben Angell (Draycote) would take top 4.2 honours with a very consistent sail, taking three races wins from four races. Ben was followed William Mawby-Groom (Banbury) in second place and Harry Sims (Llandegfedd SC) third.

Congratulations to Caitlin Thomas (Event Winner) and Ben Angell (4.2 Winner).

A massive thank you to our hosts, Northampton Sailing Club, who worked brilliantly to ensure we had an excellently organised event and making the Topper Sailors and families so welcome; we look forward to returning very soon.

Thanks also to our event sponsors - Topper Sailboats, Rooster and Harken - for their continued support of the Midlands Topper Traveller Series.

If any Junior Midland Topper sailors are interested in participating at the ITCA Midlands Traveller events, it is a great opportunity to enter a friendly and local race series. Please contact us via if you would like any more information.

Overall Results:

PosClassSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4Pts
1stTopper46205Caitlin Thomas1‑4236
2ndTopper48571Katherine Gunn‑71179
3rdTopper46391Jessica Powell62‑7210
4thTopper48744Graydon McLeod Fleming2‑63611
5thTopper44036Joseph Rowe534‑912
6thTopper47777Katherine Burgess45‑9413
7thTopper48193Jasper Focardi Dolling‑1185114
8thTopper47794Felicity Angell(OCS)76518
9thTopper47764Tara Ewbank3‑98819
10thTopper48907Keali Rhodes8‑12101129
11thTopper48667Millie Hardiman91011‑1230
12thTopper48713Jake Blakeway1011‑121031
13thTopper48675Kitty Davy‑1715131341
14thTopper46241Oli Rogers‑1413141441
15th4.247613Ben Angell12‑18161543
16th4.231767William Mawby‑Groom13‑17171747
17th4.246227Harry Sims16(RET)151647
18thTopper47384Benjamin Turner1514(DNC)DNC54
19thTopper48909Oliver Stuart1816‑212054
20th4.246971Oscar Rowe(DNC)20181856
21st4.246734George Sims20(DNC)191958
22nd4.248798Izzy Ritchie‑2119202160
23rd4.236182Alex Chadborn19(RET)DNCDNC69
24th4.242830Charlie ONeill22(RET)DNCDNC72

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