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Topper Midlands Championships 2023 at Notts County Sailing Club

by Mike Powell 13 Jun 2023 11:04 BST 10-11 June 2023
Jessica Powell wins the Topper Midlands Championships at Notts County © David Eberlin

After a short break from the Midlands Traveller Series, the sailors were back on the water for the Topper Midlands Championships held at Notts County Sailing Club on 10th and 11th June 2023. This was a two-day event, consisting of a total of seven races with four planned on the Saturday followed by a further three on the Sunday.

Notts County Sailing Club is a great supporter of the Midlands Topper Sailors and again this event was no different as the club arranged a social evening on the Saturday night in their excellent club house and veranda.

On the Saturday, the forecast was wall to wall sunshine and light to medium winds which was planned to shift direction halfway through the day. The race officer was the very experienced Ross Ryan and his team, his plan was to mix up the courses throughout the event to test the sailors and make it extremely enjoyable.

It was also great to see new sailors from the host club taking part for the first time, keen to experience fleet racing. Hopefully we will see them on the 2023-2024 Midlands Topper Traveller circuit very soon.

The Saturday morning course was Trapezoidal, with racing under way exactly on time, the Race 1 battle was between the Draycote Sailors of Jessica Powell and Dilara Soyer with the lead swapping a number of times before Jessica was able to pull away and remain unchallenged to the end of the race.

Race 2 and Race 3 would be won in a similar fashion as to the first race with Jessica taking the honours but 2nd and 3rd places for both these races would be fought out between Dilara, Keali Rhodes (Northampton SC) and Chloe Grayton, flying the flag for the host Club.

At the well-earned lunch break, Jessica would have the lead over Keali, followed by Dilara; it was beginning to look like the event could be all girl top 3 lockout, but with 4 races still to go, all could change.

With the wind shifting over 30 degrees for the afternoon, the Race officer quickly set a new course which would be a windward-leeward with a spreader mark and a gate. Due to the new wind condition, it would mean the windward mark was very close the bank, making for real shifty conditions that would test the sailors to the maximum. Seeing the shift was going to be critical and it was event leader, Jessica who would resume her battle with Dilara, swapping places and choosing different marks at the gate to seek an advantage.

Eventually this would go to Jessica, taking her fourth straight win of the day, with Dilara second and Chloe continuing her strong performance, finishing third. Slightly further back, there was a great race between Jacob Blakeway (Trimpley) and Oscar Rowe (Draycote) where for most of the race there was only a couple of boat lengths between them and it was Jacob finally just nudging ahead of Oscar to take fifth place.

Due to a light forecast planned for Sunday, the race offer made an excellent decision to run the fifth race on the Saturday, so very quickly the sailors were back in sequence. Jessica made a very strong start and pulled away from the fleet taking the Race 5 win from Dilara and Keali. A special mention to Draycote Sailor, Peter Astley whose results had been consistently improving throughout the day and by race 5, put in a great performance, finishing sixth overall.

So, at the overnight stage and five races complete (and two discards permitted for the event), Jessica Powell had clinched the event and the Midlands Inland Champ title with five straight wins, with Dilara putting herself in a strong second place. However it was very close behind for third place with only 1 point separating Keali and Chloe. First of the boys was Oscar in fifth place with a 5 point margin over Jacob in sixth place.

Sunday racing first signal was 8.55am which saw the sailors all wanting to get out on the water as early as possible to practise the again changing wind direction. With time in hand for the event, the race officer lengthened the course and maximised the space available. Winds were light as forecasted which would see the sailors constantly looking for pressure on the water.

Jessica would lead the sailors away, with Jacob Blakeway only just behind followed by Alex Stainton (Hollowell SC). Keali had a poor start and found herself way down the fleet set about working her way through, using her experience and by the halfway stage had moved up to fifth place. Jessica would continue to pull away and took her impressive sixth straight win of the event with Jacob holding second place in a very comfortable manner.

Keali continued to push, spotting the shifts and made her way up back up to impressive third place finish.

The final race of the event and with more wind now filling in, the course was changed to a large trapezoidal layout making for excellent spectator viewing as the boats came very close to shore on the downwind leg. Race 7 would prove to be the closest race of the event as at the start the 4 boats of Jessica, Jacob, Chloe and Dilara all believed they were on an individual recall, turned back and ducked the line. This enabled Keali to break away from the fleet into clear air and taking a commanding lead at the windward mark.

Jessica fought hard up the beat and put herself into second place, followed by Peter Gathergood (Notts County) who was really enjoying the Sunday conditions moving into third place. Jessica set about trying to catch Keali, but the gap extended on the second lap upwind beat as Keali sailed in the safe mid-course area and Jessica was trying everything looking for the pressure.

Onto the reach and Jessica started to make small inroads into Keali's lead and by the time Keali reached the final leeward mark, Jessica was only a few seconds behind and with a short beat to the finish, it was going to be close. Jessica tacked off to split the beat then Keali cut back to cover, however Jessica was carrying more boat speed and took her seventh straight victory by less than a boat length.

With Keali just missing out on race victory, this cost her second place overall with Dilara taking this by just one point, followed by Keali in 3rd.

Under 13 honours went to Chloe who finished in a strong fourth place in the event from William Clark second Under 13 (seventh Overall), and Laurie Lamb third Under 13 (eighth overall).

Congratulations Jessica Powell (Draycote) in becoming the Midlands Inland Topper Champion and to Chloe Grayton (Notts County) first Under 13.

Thank you to the team at Notts County SC for putting on a superb and excellently run event and special thanks for organising an amazing Saturday evening social. All the sailors/parents and guardians who attended had an absolutely great time. We look forward to coming back to Notts County SC again for the event in 2024.

It wont be long until the start of the 2023-2024 Midlands Traveller Series which kicks off in September at Bartley SC; all dates/venues for the series are available on the ITCA Website.

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 if you would like any more information.

Overall Results:

PosClassSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1st5.348677Jessica PowellDraycote Water SC‑1‑1111115
2nd5.344036Dilara SoyerDraycote Water SC22522‑7‑1313
3rd5.348907Keali RhodesNorthampton SC/Draycote Academy‑333‑433214
4th5.348535Chloe GraytonNotts County SC/Draycote Water SC‑44234‑6417
5th5.349038Jacob BlakewayTrimpley SC7‑9‑11552625
6th5.348672Oscar RoweDraycote Water SC65467‑8‑828
7th5.347738William ClarkeHollowell SC866‑15‑99534
8th5.346124Laurie LambStaunton Harold SC/Draycote Academy5‑10788‑17735
9th5.346512Alex StaintonHollowell SC9799‑115‑1039
10th5.345370Peter AstleyDraycote Water SC‑10887610‑1239
11th5.333030Peter GathergoodNotts County SC‑16‑161412124345
12th5.320844James BurtonNotts County SC‑1411‑13111011952
13thTopper 4.247533Hari ClarkDraycote Water SC12121010(DNC)15‑1759
14th5.341853Obehi O AtalorNotts County SC‑1715121313‑181669
15th5.346135Jai DhaliwalDraycote Water SC‑1513‑161414141469
16th5.348798Isabel RitchieNotts County SC11RET(DNC)(DNC)DNC131172
17th5.323887Josh WhiteNotts County SC131415(DNC)(DNC)161876
18th5.328164Madelief JohnstoneNotts County SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNC121584

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