Topper Midlands Champs 10/11 June 23
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.
Just under 20 toppers arrived for the Topper Midlands Championships over 10/11 th June 2023. The sun was shining and there was a light and occasionally moderate breeze, apart from the shifts, it was great conditions for the event.
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.
Thanks To Mike Powell for the report and of course with many. others helping out on the water.