Topper Optimist Open April 2012
A partial weather window in an otherwise very wet April appeared on Saturday, good timing for the seven Optimist and twenty six Topper junior sailors who came along to NCSC to take part in this year's Traveller event. A cold, north easterly, breeze, luckily without much rain, did not detract from a full sailing programme which started at 0930 for the Topper sailors with a training session led by Stuart, the RYA North Zone coach. As they went through their session the remainder of the competitors prepared for the races. The small, but very competitive, Optimist fleet, started first on a trapezoid course around the lake with a hard beat up to the windward mark earning the sailors some fast reaching and downwind legs. Arran Holman from Hollowell led the fleet in the first race, a position he only gave up for one second in the four races completed in the day, giving him the overall win. Martin Wrigley from CBYC and Karyna Manuel from Grafham taking the other podium positions with some close racing throughout. Tom Smith of NCSC competed hard but could not dent the dominance of the RYA National Squad sailors at the front of the fleet. The Toppers started a little later and got in three long races on the same course. Lawrence Logan of NCSC led the fleet for the first race before lunch. After the lunchtime energy fill up, thanks as ever to Pauline in the galley, the fleets battled through increasing winds in the afternoon with Sophie Otter of Hollowell getting two bullets in some close racing to take the overall win for the day. Phoebe Connellan, of Middle Nene, also sailed really well and got two seconds, making her third overall with Lawrence's results giving him second spot. Two girls in the top three showing the strength across the genders in the Topper class. Tyler Simmonds, Jed Fahy and Rebekah Fahy, all from NCSC, battled well in the difficult conditions and got some good experience of sailing in a competitive fleet. Phil Kilburn, RO, assisted by Andy Smith and Martin Hart, stayed out on the water all day to run the racing - supported by a few hot thermoses of tea from the galley. The safety crews were kept busy looking out for capsizes, primarily in the Topper fleet, but a great event passed off well. The Vice Commodore presented the trophies and prizes, generously supplied by Morton Boats, before everyone departed, tired but satisfied after a hard day on the water.
Optimists: 1st - Arran Holman (Hollowell), 2nd - Martin Wrigley (CBYC), 3rd & 1st Female - Karyna Manuel (Grafham), 1st non (national) squad - Ben Settle (Beaver)
Toppers: 1st - Sophie Otter (Hollowell), 2nd - Lawrence Logan (Notts County), 3rd - Phoebe Connellan (Middle Nene), 1st Female (not in top 3) - Bex Stowe (Rutland), 1st U13 - Eleanor Cranfield (Hollowell)
8-9 October 2011
Scorpions with a speckling of grey sails mill about aimlessly awaiting the start, on grey water under a grey sky, dampened by a grey drizzle.
The race officer tries to decide where to put the windward mark as; pendulum like, the wind swings from North West to West and on to South West and then back.
Mark set, the boats cruise the line looking for the favoured end, crisp white jibs flutter as “GO” nears.
A gentle first beat, then a hint of more wind and the leader almost planes, but the hint was a tease as the wind decreases to a strong zephyr.
As the second races approaches some heave to and others have a relaxed reach as the windward mark is moved.
The drooping wind sock is reflected in the mirror like edges of the lake, they creep round slowly as the wind dissipates, the gate is moved and boats drift to the end.
Outside the Scorpions wait patiently, inside wet cold disappointed sailors hang around in small groups dissecting the races, quiet conversation interrupted by shivers and then applause as the RO abandons the third.
5am: A still warm morning, Colin curled up by the TV.
Not a wind and not a sound apart from a dripping tap and a solitary halyard.
To the west, the orange glow of the city whilst to the east, two pairs of vertical red lights at Staythorpe and a plume of steam from the sugar factory, are the only signs of life in the real world.
5.30: A faint pink stripe signifies the awakening dawn, accompanied by the gentle creek of the marquee; twitching burgees indicate a whisper of wind.
Outside a solitary bird begins the dawn chorus soon to be joined by more.
6.00: The air is warm and sticky almost tropical the illusion helped, by the conservatory magnifying the light rain into a monsoon. I hope it clears and makes way for wind.
6.30 The cleaning gnome makes a welcoming cuppa for the Food Fairy, then she’s back to her domain preparing breakfast for the yet to wake campers.
The silence of the predawn is replaced by the sizzle of frying bacon and Abba on the radio.
The notice board reads:
10.00am Start, 3 back to back
Most notice, some don’t.
More wind, but not lots.
A faster sail and better races for all, close duels the length of the fleet, from first to last all work hard.
Tired, pleased people leave the water with trolley dollies of all types to help.
Tea and “Cow Pats”!! Refresh and refuel.
Prizes for many and a speech for one, ends a weekend of challenge and fun.