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GJW Direct 2020

Topper GJW Direct Costal Championship and NS4 at Whistable Yacht Club and Tankerton Bay Sailing Club

by Alex Jones 30 May 16:16 BST

Fantastic waves, fantastic sailing, fantastic volunteers, fantastic oysters, fantastic venue! Yes you have guessed it, Topper NS4 was held at Whitstable and Tankerton Bay sailing clubs. There were over 100 competitors, many submersed and only visible on a crest of a wave. It was amazing fun!

A windy forecast of over 18 knots of breeze coming from the NE created big waves and a steady breeze.

With strong winds forecast everyone was reassured to have Russ with his van from Topper International on site to check over and make sure everyone's boats were ready for some tough racing.

On the first day it was looking promising, strong winds and white horses. However, rumours were rife regarding a postponement. The low tide and the short-big chop made it impossible for the 4.2s to launch at Tankerton Bay SC, under the postponement flag they opted to walk their boats along the promenade to Whitstable YC where the 5.3's were eagerly waiting to launch.

It was a nail biting few hours, were we going to launch, or weren't we? The race committee took down the postponement flag and called off racing for the day. Everyone dispersed. Utilising the time to explore the local delicacies, the South West team tried the famous Whitstable oysters!

Day 2 saw the same conditions although slightly less chop and the tide was on its way in, the race committee were keen to get us out early to try and squeeze in four races. With the big breeze, the race committee suspended the first warning signal for 15 minutes.

Race 1 for the yellow and blue fleet was led off the line by Leo Yates and Alex Jones. George Burden had a successful port flyer, he ducked Leo but crossed clean ahead of Alex Jones. At the top mark Leo had extended his lead coming round in first, Alex Jones had pulled ahead of George Burden and came round in second closely followed.

It stayed the same order at the top of the race but with a few crucial moves being made at the back of the pack. In the red and white fleet flight, the race was dominated by Jessica Powell, she led from the start, 2nd was Jasper, closely followed by Sam Brown.

In race 2, yellow and red flight, Leo Yates had a good pin end start, he managed to capitalise on his gains which made him extend his lead out in front for the first upwind. There was a close battle between Alex Jones and Jessica Powell with Jess just coming out at the top mark with a couple boat lengths lead over Alex.

In race 2 for the blue and white fleet, it was a closely fought race until the catastrophe! Half the leading fleet were heading for the wrong mark! Astute Thomas Semmens and Jasper seized the opportunity and crept into the top 3.

This was followed by a short postponement from the race committee to readjust the course and give the sailors some time to re-energise.

In the final race of the day, yellow and white, Leo Yates led from the start, he managed to build a decent lead on his closest competitors Kat Gunn and Alex Jones. At the top mark Leo rounded in first, followed by Alex Jones and Kat Gunn. Alex had overtaken Kat but she chased him down, and a small mistake by Alex allowed Kat to regain a place.

In the final race, red and blue a fleet was yet again won by Jessica Powell closely followed by Izzy Johnson and Jasper.

In big seas, the 4.2 kids had amazing grit and determination, some of them barely able to sea above the waves. The races were mainly dominated by Harry Mills with 2 firsts. Thomas Matthews closely followed him in second overall and MuEn Zhong came in 3rd overall with a consistent 3rd place in every race.

In the 5.3 fleet overall, Leo Yates took 1st, Jessica Powell 2nd and Alex Jones 3rd.

Whitstable was a fantastic venue, the hosts of the club couldn't be more friendly, a big shout out to the safety officer, PRO and volunteers for delivering great racing.

A huge thanks to our sponsors and volunteers who made this event run so smoothly and thanks to the class sponsors for their continued support GJW Direct, Rooster, Harken and Optimum time.

A special thank you to ICOM Radio for the fantastic support of Whitstable and Tankerton sailing clubs to host ITCA GBR for the championship.

See: 5.3 fleet results [PDF] and 4.2 fleet results [PDF].

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