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ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series 2023-24 Round 1 at Bartley Sailing Club

by Allison Blakeway 21 Sep 07:43 BST 17 September 2023
the ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series Round 1 at Bartley - Tight light wind racing © Allison Blakeway

The first round of the ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series was held at Bartley Sailing Club, one of our regular venues, on Sunday 17th September. The new series saw a number of new faces to the Topper scene in the Midlands, which is always good to see.

Racing commenced after the excellent and very clear explanation of racing flags, starting procedures and the course by Bartley Commodore and Race Officer, Simon Hardiman, which put many of the new sailors at ease.

10 knots of wind was forecast, increasing to max of 17knots and the experienced sailors look forward to a fun day of racing. However, the forecast wasn't as accurate as we'd all hoped, so racing started in steady wind speeds of approx. 8 knots. Nevertheless, Traveller veteran Jacob Blakeway lead the race for the best part of the first two laps, hotly followed by Katherine Gunn who got the better of him in the second lap and maintained the lead to take the race win. Alex Stainton put in a steady performance to secure 3rd place.

During the second race the wind started to die, but saw Katherine take a very early lead, heading up the fleet by some distance and maintaining her unthreatened position for a second race win. William Clarke and Jacob Blakeway took second and third place, whilst Alex Stainton followed in fourth. With the wind dying overtaking opportunities were limited.

During the lunch-break the wind built up, and hopes were increased of better racing in the afternoon. Race 3 started with a gust of wind pushing Jacob and others over the line at the start but had died again by the time the line was crossed properly, by which time Jacob found himself fighting to recover the ground lost. Meanwhile, Katherine was streets ahead of the rest of the fleet and took another unchallenged race win to secure the day's top position, followed by James Burton and Alex Stainton. We also saw Hari Clarke, who by this time was leading the 4.2 fleet clearly finish the race in 4th overall - an excellent result.

Going into the final race, Katherine once again escaped the fleet and ran away with the win, whilst the main competition was for the second to fifth places, with James Burton, William Clarke, Alex Stainton and Jacob Blakeway all jostling for position in ever reducing wind speed, and a lot of discussion/noise coming off the water. James and Alex took second and third places, with William and Jacob very close behind.

In the 4.2 fleet, the final results showed Hari Clark taking the first-place trophy, followed by Oliver Baron and Ed Whitaker. The clear and well deserved 5.3 champion for the day was Katherine Gunn,but the close racing behind her resulted in just one point separating four places, relying on countbacks to separate out the prize winners. James Burton ultimately took 2nd, William Clarke 3rd, Jacob Blakeway fourth and Alex Stainton 5th. With such close racing, the next round at Hollowell (21st October) is already hotting up to be another interesting day of racing.

However, its not all about the racing at the front of the field, with the Endeavour Award being presented to Jacob Blakeman who attended his first ever Traveller event, despite not feeling well, and finding himself on a lake much bigger than the one he was used to, and some of the gusts challenging.

Values Awards (presented for demonstrating excellent RYA values) were presented to Alex Stainton for encouraging the back markers in the fleet whilst on the water and assisting everyone off the water, and to Hannah Stainton, who although was restricted from sailing in her first Traveller due to injury travelled to the event to watch and learn so she knew what to expect next time and stayed for the full day.

Once again, Bartley Sailing Club excelled in their hosting, and we thank all at the Club for their input and prizes donated, and we hope that we can return to see you again soon. We would also like to thank our class Sponsors, Rooster, for their support in providing prizes and goody bags for all series entrants.

Both the next Open Training and Traveller events will be held at Hollowell Sailing Club on 14th and 21st October respectively. Bookings are now open for both events via 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 the email address if you would like any more information.

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