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ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series 2021-2022 Round 6 at Banbury Sailing Club

by Mike Powell 31 Jan 16:23 GMT 29 January 2022
Lining up for the start of race 1 during the ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series 2021-2022 at Banbury © Donna Powell

Round 6 of the Midlands Topper Traveller 2021-2022 Series took the sailors to Banbury Sailing Club on Saturday 29th January as part of a planned 8 event series starting September and running through to March. Banbury SC is a club that is very active with developing new sailors and we had a number of home club Topper Sailors entering the event which is always great to see.

With a healthy 22 entries booking into the event, it was great to also welcome visiting Topper Sailors from other regions with Leo Yates from London and South East, Matthew Emerson from Southern and Graydon McLeod Fleming from the East making his regular trip to Midlands Traveller racing for a 3rd time this series.

Banbury SC is quite a small expanse of water and the sailors upon arrival were greeted with strong Westerly wind. For the Race officer, this was probably the worst possible direction as it would mean the upwind beat would be quite short due to the shape of the reservoir, compared with wind direction. However the officer did a superb job and maximised the course within the limitations he had and this would prove to give some superb racing and brilliant spectator vantage points - in particular the long fast reach past the pontoon and clubhouse!

The wind continued to build for Race 1 and it was Leo Yates (Island Barn/Shoreham/Burghfield) who set the standard by taking an early lead, making the windward mark in first place, followed closely Joe Rowe (Draycote) and Tara Ewbank (Chase/Staunton Harold SC). As the raced progressed, it was Leo who managed to pull out a commanding lead that he would hold until the finish while the chasing pack were joined by Jessica Powell (Draycote) as they fought for the remaining places, with Jessica getting ahead of both Joe and Tara on the final lap.

As soon as race 1 was completed, the sailors were back quickly into sequence for race 2, with the race officer being rightly very keen to get the races in as quickly as possible; should there be a postponement later in the day due to the wind strength. Again it was Leo who continued his domination, taking the early lead with Tara building on the confidence of a great race 1, positioning herself in a strong 2nd place followed my Midlands regular; Joe Rowe. Leo was controlling the boat superbly in the strong winds and once again extended his lead.

Tara Ewbank did an excellent job of defending her 2nd place from Joe Rowe in 3rd. Jessica Powell, similar to race 1 had again closed the gap to the chasing pack and it was going to be a nail biting finish as they came down the final run. As Joe caught up and passed Tara, it Jessica who picked up the gust, managing to sail past both of them as they entered into the final Leyward mark. Joe decided to tack off and go for broke with Tara following the same route as Jessica, just far enough back not to collect any dirty air. For Joe, it did not pay off as there a there minimal pressure on his side and Jessica again managed to snatch 2nd place away with Tara reclaiming 3rd place.

At the halfway stage, it was Leo Yates in a commanding position with 2 straight wins, only needing 1 further win to take event honours, followed by Jessica Powell with a pair of 2nd places.

Following a short lunch break, the sailors were back out on the water for Race 3 and again it was Leo who took the early lead, with Joe Rowe hot on his heals pushing hard and Caitlin Thomas (Notts County SC) in 3rd. Joe kept on chasing Leo trying everything to get past, however Leo defended his position strongly and fairly - keen to make it 3 race wins out of 3. This was something he managed to achieve, taking Race 3 honours followed by Joe and 3rd place going to Jessica.

With 3 races now complete Leo had already taken the event win, however the minor places were still open for grabs. Jessica was just leading this from Joe and Tara however after such a gruelling day of high wind sailing, it was clear that some of the sailors were starting to look tired.

For Race 4 the wind had shifted more Northerly which gave the race officer the opportunity to move the course and take advantage of lengthening the distance to the windward mark. There was no slowing from Leo Yates and he took the lead at the first mark, however this time it was Jessica Powell chasing hard; followed by Joe Rowe and then Graydon McLeod Fleming (Hunts SC). Jessica was keen to not let Leo get away and managed to take the lead on a number of occasions, however even with 3 race wins already, Leo was hungry to make it a clean sweep and managed to finally pass Jessica and holding the lead until the end followed by Jessica and Joe.

So after a great day of sailing, the event finishing order would be the same as Race 4, with a dominant Leo Yates (Island Barn/Shoreham/Burghfield) taking top honours followed by Jessica Powell and Joe Rowe.

4.2 honours were taken by home sailor and Midlands Traveller regular William Mawby-Groom (Banbury), taking all 4 race wins followed by Oscar Rowe (Draycote) in 2nd place.

Oscar would also win the "Top Topper True Grit" award for the day, Oscar won this for his determination and always sailing with a smile - a true credit to our Midlands Toppers!

Congratulations to Leo Yates (Event Winner), William Mawby-Groom (4.2 Winner) & Oscar Rowe (Top Topper True Grit).

A massive thank you to our hosts; Banbury Sailing Club who worked amazingly hard to put a brilliant event on. It was a great day of hard sailing with an excellent course. We look forward to visiting again soon.

Thanks also to our event Sponsors; Topper Sailboats, Rooster and Harken for their continued support of Midlands Topper Traveller Series

Our next event in the series is Round 7 at Notts County Sailing Club on Saturday 12th February 2022; entry is now open and can be booked in the usual manner, via the ITCA Website at

We look forward to you joining us there.

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 on the email address if you would like any more information.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmRigR1R2R3R4Pts
1st48153Leo Yates5.3‑11113
2nd46391Jessica Powell5.322‑326
3rd44036Joseph Rowe5.33‑4238
4th47764Tara Ewbank5.3‑534411
5th48744Graydon McLeod Fleming5.346(DNC)515
6th46205Caitlin Thomas5.36‑75718
7th48667Millie Hardiman5.385‑9619
8th48571Kat Gunn5.37‑86821
9th48193Jasper Focardi Dolling5.3‑998926
10th46364Matthew Emerson5.310127(DNC)29
11th48907Keali Rhodes5.3111010(DNC)31
12th31767William Mawby‑Groom4.2‑1211111032
13th48713Jake Blakeway5.3131513(DNC)41
14th46971Oscar Rowe4.2151612(DNC)43
15th46241Oli Rogers5.31414(DNC)DNC51
16th48675Kitty Davy5.3(DNC)13DNCDNC59
17th48664Toby Gammond5.3(DNC)DNCDNCDNC69
17th45772Rupert Ash5.3(DNC)DNCDNCDNC69
17th41858Harry Mallen5.3(DNC)DNCDNCDNC69
17th12345Coco Fawcett‑Shapland5.3(DNC)DNCDNCDNC69
17thGBR 1Theo Burgoine5.3(DNC)DNCDNCDNC69
17th47777Katherine Burgess5.3(DNC)DNCDNCDNC69

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