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September 2022

Thoughts of a Midlands Topper Sailor Parent

by John Gathergood & Mike Powell 28 Nov 2022 08:11 PST
Peter getting to grips with his Topper Sailing Dinghy © Bartley SC

John Gathergood has put together an excellent short summary of his son, Peter's sailing journey so far that is definitely worth sharing. Peter sails a Topper Dinghy and is a member of Youth Race Squad, led by Race Coach; Stephanie Gunn at Notts County Sailing Club (NCSC).

Peter, aged 12, is new to sailing having first taken to the water in 2020 learning to sail on some short courses. In 2022 we joined NCSC and Peter got involved in Saturday club, which he enjoys enormously. Having sailed on Saturdays throughout the summer, he was interested in whether he might be ready for a bit of racing.

At first, racing can seem like an intimidating prospect. The juniors are sometime apprehensive about starts, rules, and knowing the course. However, we decided to give the Midlands Topper Traveller series a go and Peter has enjoyed it enormously. Topper is known as the 'friendly class', and this is evident across the leadership, participants and parents in the races. People are more than happy to lend a hand to inexperienced parents (like me!) and the race officers are very accommodating of all abilities. In his first year, Peter tends to be nearer the back (where he has made a group of friends from across the Midlands who are also newcomers to the format) but he has a fantastic time and can't wait to get on the water. There is no shame in missing a start, or coming in early in difficult conditions, everyone is keen to see the sailors enjoy the event.

I would encourage anyone involved in Youth Race Squad to give the race event at NCSC a go in early December. It is water and surroundings they know well and they will be among friends. A smaller sail, or reefed sail, is totally fine if the conditions warrant it. Don't be worried about coming last - or first - it is great experience and fun.

Notts County Sailing Club have a very strong, successful and enjoyable Youth Sailing programme where all of the sailors can really develop their sailing skills at an excellent Midlands Sailing venue.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Notts County SC Youth Programme (including the Race Squad), please email:

Additionally, Notts County are hosting the Round 3 of the ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series on 10th December, with entries closing on Thursday 8th December.If you are interested in taking part in this event, please contact Mike Powell (ITCA Midlands Area rep); email:

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