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Eastern Region Topper Traveller Series Round 5 at Horning Sailing Club

by Ed Medcalf 16 May 2023 02:32 BST 14 May 2023

Constabularies across East Anglia were rubbing their hands in glee at their sudden revenue from speed cameras as Hayley, 4.2 sailor Toby's mum, delivered him to Horning Sailing Club for an 11am start having fulfilled a 7am swimming commitment in Luton.

Horning's local rule that participants must have cast off from the club decking no later than 5 mins before the start was achieved by all, including Toby with 2 mins to spare, and the Eastern Traveller Series Round 5 began in less than no wind.

Race 1 began with Topper soup. Patience and no fidgeting were the order of the day; soon Ellie Thwaites (Snowflakes/NBYC/RSWSC) emerged from the morass pursued by Nathan Clark (WOBYC). William Mott (SBSC) in his 4.2 made commendable progress in amongst the 5.3s. The beat upriver temporarily became a run, then anyone who had not escaped the raft-up drew to a terminal standstill short of the top mark. Your correspondent popped back to the car for another layer but found on return that nobody had moved. Eventually Ellie, Jensen Jakob (NBYC), Nate Sparrow (BASC) and Nathan plugged away beating back along the downwind leg to finish a shortened course while the rest of both fleets were whiskeyed.

Everyone had now twigged that clear air was key. Race 2's sequence commenced in a similar vacuum. Regional coaches would have been proud of the pre-start hovering albeit there wasn't much choice because no-one was going anywhere. That said, being on the front row of a fleet going nowhere was vital and Ellie, Jensen and Nathan achieved that. A pigeon flew across. On the Norwich road, the no.12 bus passed by. The sun broke through which suggested that at 2000 feet surely the clouds must have been blowing about a bit. Jensen overtook Ellie but the same names populated the top 3. William again triumphed in the 4.2s.

During lunch a steady Force 2 arose for half an hour, dropping promptly as the 10 min signal for Race 3 was sounded. Anya Gittings (HSC) showed a clear pair of heels off the start but was caught by Ellie and Jensen before the windward mark; behind her a raft of 8 jostled to scrape round. Faith Turner (SBSC) got a glorious inside line and gained multiple paces in her 4.2 and left the 5.3s to engage in slow-motion luffing battles. William caught a puff and slipped past. In the 5.3s, Ellie and Jensen were unsurprisingly followed to the finish by Nathan.

So Race 4 became the decider between Ellie and Jensen, both sailing admirably and consistently in frustrating conditions where any loss of concentration spelt doom. There was prolonged 1mph jockeying at the start and a right left split up the river for the tight leading pack. Wills Keys-Batson (NBYC) caught everyone unawares by being 1st at the top mark while other entertainment in the form of some turns from Jensen and an elegant capsize from Josh Blackman Northwood (Hunts SC) kept the audience awake. Ellie controlled matters and topped the podium but there were times when it seemed that trusting the movement of the Eurasian tectonic plate would get the fleet back to the clubhouse quicker than Norfolk's zephyrs. However, a late thrill developed in the battle for 3rd place, in which Magnus Medcalf (BSSC) gradually reeled in Nathan, got the inside line at the final mark and ground to a halt within spitting distance of the finish line. Anya roared into the equation at snail's pace, discombobulating and distracting Nathan sufficiently to allow Magnus to hold on by a coat of old blue Topper paint. Some redemption for Magnus who had snapped his mast in the previous Traveller to commemorate the occasion of his grandmother Sue's 80th. She never thought she'd get a mention in Y&Y. In the 4.2s William was creditably in the middle of the 5.3 fleet and completed the victory.

And so it finished. Our thanks to the Horning team, in ties and blazers you know, for their persistence and determination to get the event done. Well done the galley too! We're grateful to Area Rep Michael for behind the scenes co-ordination. Next stop Snet Beach for the regional championships on 10th-11th June.

Overall Results:

1st Ellie Thwaites
2nd Jensen Jakob
3rd Nathan Clark

1st William Mott
2nd Toby Turner
3rd Faith Turner

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