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Midlands Topper Traveller 2022-2023 Series Round 4 at Hollowell Sailing Club

by Mike Powell 10 Jan 10:00 GMT 7 January 2023
Close bunching at the windward mark during Midlands 2022-2023 Topper Traveller Series Round 4 at Hollowell © Steven Angell

No sooner had the Midlands Topper Sailors completed Round 3 of our series just before Christmas; straight away in the new year Round 4 was upon us with Hollowell Sailing Club hosting the Topper fleet on Saturday 7th January 2023.

The number of sailors has grown consistently throughout the series and Hollowell was no exception with 32 sailors entering the event. This is double the amount when compared to the start of the series and considering we are now in the colder months of the year, it is amazing to see this level of enthusiasm from our Topper Sailors in the Midlands, even attracting sailors from other regions to join us and enjoy the atmosphere.

Hollowell SC is one of the smaller venues on the Midlands Topper Traveller calendar, however this is very easily made up for with the sheer enthusiasm from the members and the club to ensure that everyone involved would have a great day of sailing.

Forecast for the day was heavy winds, dropping slightly during the day. In reality the full-strength winds did not materialise and the sailors were greeted with South Westerly gusting conditions mixed in with some rain showers. These wind directions would enable the Race Officer to set a course which would give the parents and spectators a great view of the windward mark, located reasonably close to the club house.

Again, Rachel Heggs was on hand, both on and off the water to provide support and encouragement to our new Midlands Topper Sailors.

Race 1 was under way exactly on time and with a reasonably short beat it would be critical to get a good start and clear the windward mark as efficiently as possible. Jessica Powell (Draycote) executed this best in the first race, reaching the windward mark first by 2 boat lengths. This would prove to be a key point in the race as the chasing pack of about 8 boats all arrived at the mark at the same time which led to collisions, capsizes and sailors doing turns. Chloe Grayton (Notts County) would come out of the chaotic mark rounding ahead and look to chase Jessica down. With the course being fairly short and strong winds, the race office planned for a 4 lap race. Jessica would hold on to the lead and take the race win, however positions were due to change on the final upwind beat to the finish line for the chasing pack. Returning Topper Sailor Imogen Green (Draycote) and Chloe Graydon (Notts County) were caught up in a battle with Katherine Gunn and Sammy Mason (both Notts County) for the 2nd and 3rd place as the four of them rounded the final mark and looked to approach the finish line, Katherine lost a small amount of time through the tack which enabled Imogen and Sammy to sneak through to take 2nd and 3rd place by the finest of margins.

Race 2 was very quickly under way with the winds staying consistently strong, it would again be the pin end proving to be the best start position. Jessica was able to again capture this and use this to reach the windward mark in first, followed very closely by Imogen and Chloe.

Both of these set of in pursuit of Jessica and the gap was steadily closing. Katherine was sailing very strongly and managed to pass Chloe on the 3rd lap with Imogen focussing on trying to catch Jessica. However Jessica was able to manage the race and gain her 2nd win of the day with Imogen putting in a strong performance to again finish 2nd with Katherine taking 3rd place.

At the halfway point it would be Jessica leading the event with a 2 point lead over Imogen in 2nd place who, if Imogen won both races in the afternoon period could still take the event victory.

With the strong winds and the increased number of sailors selecting 4.2 sail, this enabled a number of 4.2 sailors to run very competitively in the Top 10 of the fleet as they were not overpowered. Leading the 4.2's at lunchtime was Ben Angell (Draycote) followed by local Hollowell Sailor, Alex Stainton in 2nd.

After a quick lunchbreak, the sailors were back out on the water; however the winds had dropped significantly. First thoughts were how this would change the afternoon results. Would this shake up the front runners? Also, could the 4.2 sailors who had been very competitive in the morning continue to run towards the front of the fleet? Only time would tell.

Race 3 got under way as the rain started, resulting in shifty and tricky winds, experience was going to be key to keeping the boat speed up and tacking on the shifts. Jessica took a narrow lead at the windward mark, followed closely behind by Katherine. Jasper Forcardi Dolling (Shropshire SC) was using his Topper sailing knowledge to great effect and positioned himself in a strong 3rd place.

Jessica started to increase the gap to Katherine and looked set for her 3rd first place of the day when she capsized at the Leyward mark enabling Katherine to take the lead. Jessica managed to right the boat and start sailing again before the 3rd place chasing pack of Jasper, Sammy and Chloe could also overtake her. It was now down to Jessica to reset and see if she could catch Katherine who now had a sizeable lead; slowly the gap reduced between the two of them and on the final upwind beat, Jessica retook the lead from Katherine after an excellent battle and seal Race 3 and the event win. Jasper sailed very well to keep the chasing sailors behind him and secured a 3rd place.

The rain had now stopped and the sun made a rare appearance for Race 4. Although the event win had been decided, 2nd and 3rd place were still up for grabs between Imogen, Katherine, Jasper and Sammy.

Race 4 got under way and it would be Oscar Rowe (Draycote) who made the right decision to start pin end. With his strong advantage he looked to cross the fleet and almost made it, deciding to tack back onto starboard just in front of Jessica. Oscar reached the windward mark in first, followed by Jessica and then Jasper. Oscar held the lead well as he headed past the next two reach marks, however Jessica was able to make the clean pass coming down the short run to mark 4, leaving the door open for Jasper to also make the move on Oscar.

Jessica was looking to make it 4 wins out of 4 and stretched her lead from Jasper. In the battle for overall event 2nd place, Imogen and Katherine had also managed to overtake Oscar who had was looking to secure his first top 5 of the day. By the end of the race, Jessica took the final race win with Jasper going one better than his previous race, finishing 2nd and Imogen kept her lead over Katherine to take 3rd, giving her an overall event 2nd place.

So, it was Jessica Powell (Draycote) who would take the event win with 4 straight race wins, with Imogen Green (Draycote) 2nd and Katherine Gunn (Notts County) finishing 3rd. 4.2 classification honours went to Ben Angell (Draycote), followed by Alex Stainton (Hollowell).

The award for the "Top Topper True Grit" award was presented by the event coach, Rachel Heggs to James Burton (Notts County) who had equipment issues before the start of the final race which were fixed and James refocussed and sailed his best race of the day. Well Done!

Congratulations to Jessica Powell (Event Winner), Ben Angell (4.2 Winner) and our "True Grit" Topper Sailor; James Burton.

Thank you to Hollowell SC for their enthusiasm and running an amazing event; all of the sailors had a great day. A special mention to the surprise sailors post race buffet, it was excellent and very much appreciated.

We are now at the halfway stage of the 2022/2023 series and it is very close between Jessica and Katherine for the Series title with Sammy Mason jumping up into 3rd place in the overall standings.

The 4.2 sail classification is being led by Alex Chadborn (Notts County), with Hari Clark (Draycote) just 3 points behind. It is all to play for across the fleets.

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

Also, thanks to our coach; Rachel Heggs for supporting both on and off the water, it really made a difference and gives encouragement to the new Topper sailors in the fleet. The good news is Rachel is now confirmed for all of the remaining Traveller events of the 2022/2023 series, supporting our new sailors.

The next event in the series is Round 5 at Blithfield Sailing Club on Saturday 21st January 2023, Entry is now open and booking in is through the ITCA Website. This is a new venue on the Midlands Topper Calendar and is very exciting. 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
1st46391Jessica PowellTopper 5.3‑11113
2nd48653Imogen GreenTopper 5.322‑637
3rd48571Kat GunnTopper 5.3‑143249
4th48193Jasper Focardi DollingTopper 5.3‑653210
5th47354Sammy MasonTopper 5.3344‑711
6th48535Chloe GraytonTopper 5.3465‑815
7th48907Keali RhodesTopper 5.35‑77618
8th46971Oscar RoweTopper 5.39‑119523
9th49038Jake BlakewayTopper 5.388‑10925
10th31767William Mawby‑GroomTopper 5.379‑121127
11th46241Oli RogersTopper 5.3(DNF)1281030
12th47613Ben AngellTopper 4.2101011‑1531
13th48367Matthew GaylerTopper 5.31113‑141438
14th44165Emily DengateTopper 5.313‑14131339
15th46512Alex StaintonTopper 4.2161515‑1946
16th46124Laurie LambTopper 5.320‑22181250
17thY66William ClarkeTopper 4.215‑25221754
18thY64Edward CroxtonTopper 4.21817‑242055
19th47533Hari ClarkTopper 4.225(DNS)161657
20th45747Ed WhittakerTopper 4.217‑26212361
21st46135Jai DhaliwalTopper 5.3231820‑2661
22nd47023Charlie MillwardTopper 5.3222019‑2561
23rd123James BurtonTopper 4.22119‑262161
24th41858Harry MallenTopper 4.22416(DSQ)2262
25thY62Amelie RenardTopper 4.2‑2721231862
26thY3Liv BeswickTopper 5.31223(DNS)DNS66
27th48214Peter GathergoodTopper 4.21924‑272770
28th42356Oliver BaronTopper 5.3(DNF)DNS172472
29th45197Sam Udal‑BellTopper 4.228(RET)252982
30thY61Finn NealTopper 4.226(RET)282882

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