2023 Topper Traveller Report
Published 17:57 on 27 Mar 2023
Sunday 26th March saw Spinnaker Sailing Club host the first leg of the Rooster Southern Area Topper Traveller 2023. In the week leading up to the event, the forecast was changing almost daily- ranging from 3 to 30 knots (from every compass point imaginable) with rain or sunshine possible! By Saturday evening, most forecasts were saying to expect a very light westerly wind in the morning, swinging to a north easterly wind and building to 10 to 15 knots at lunch time as a front passed! The plan was for 7 short races, with separate starts for 4.2s and 5.3s. Even with a perfect forecast, timings would be tight to fit everything in!
39 sailors (plus parents, grandparents, siblings and a race team) arrived on Sunday morning to a calm lake with barely a ripple! The ever optimistic Spinnaker Race Team, led by Race Officer James Oborne, began laying the course assuming the forecast would come through and sailing would be possible. We encouraged sailors to get rigged and launched before the briefing, to allow a quick start. As the competitor's briefing began at 10.00, the wind began to fill in from the north east. After a quick briefing, sailors began launching and the race team worked hard to get the course set to allow racing to begin! Even with the course laying delayed by the lack of wind, the first race started at 10.40. With both fleets partway through their first race, the wind dropped to almost nothing, with both fleets barely moving. The team aboard the committee boat began to discuss flying flag November and abandoning the race but just as the decision was about to be made, the wind returned and race 1 was completed in around 35 minutes (13 minutes longer than planned and only just inside the race time limit).
The wind, which returned partway through race 1, was from the north (flicking north westerly occasionally). The safety boats worked frantically to relay the course before race 2, with the start line also moved to allow for this wind direction. After swift work, races 2 and 3 were completed and many of the sailors began thinking about their lunch! However, with the forecast having proved unreliable, the race team promised the sailors they could have lunch soon as they got race 4 completed while the wind was there. As planned, there was a short break ashore for lunch after race 4. Team Warsash proving it is always summer at Spinnaker: fired up the BBQs for burgers and sausages!
As the sailors returned to the water for the final 3 races, the wind strength began building, allowing a few of the boats to begin planing. As the afternoon progressed, the wind continued to build, with capsizes a regular sight through races 6 and 7. However, all the sailors worked hard and the safetyboats checked in with everyone, with no need to assist any sailors as they all righted their boats and got straight back to racing. Race 7 was completed by 15.40, much to the relief of many of the sailors who were beginning to feel the effect of a full day of racing - especially for those who had attended the windy ITCA training day on the Saturday! Back ashore, the Spinnaker Galley team had a snack tea with hot chocolate waiting for the sailors, whilst protest hearings took place and results were finalised before a prize giving on the patio.
It was brilliant to see so many sailors turn out for the series opener, including a large number of sailors attending their first event away from their home club. Unusually for a Topper event, the 4.2 sailors outnumbered the 5.3s! There was some great sailing on display in both fleets, and some fantastic start line discipline, with no general recalls, and only a couple of boats being recalled individually! The shifty nature of Blashford Lake tested sailor's ability to read wind shifts, and benefit from the gain features. Well done to everyone who took part and thank you to everyone who gave up their time to make this event happen.
Full results can be seen on the Spinnaker Sailing Club Website here. In the 5.3 fleet the results proved incredibly close, with just 1 point between 1st place and 3rd! Full details about the series, including results can be seen on the ITCA Website here. The next event of the series is at Itchenor Sailing Club on Sunday 7th May.
1st Place - Ethan Rhodes (Warsash Sailing Club)
2nd Place - Matthew Emerson (Spinnaker Sailing Club)
3rd Place - Max Morgan (Spinnaker Sailing Club)
1st Place - Lucas Keen (Stokes Bay Sailing Club)
2nd Place - Charles Wood (Warsash Sailing Club)
3rd Place - Barnaby Everett (Itchenor Sailing Club)
Last updated 09:41 on 20 December 2023