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ITCA (GBR) Invitation Coaching at Northampton Sailing Club

by Mike Powell 1 Feb 2023 03:13 PST 28-29 January 2023
Start Practise at the ITCA (GBR) Invitational Coaching © Steve Irish

The GBR Class Association for Toppers (ITCA-GBR) organised an Invitational Coaching Event at Northampton Sailing Club on 28th/29th January where we had 24 very enthusiast Topper sailors from across the country in attendance looking to hone their racing skills.

Sailors are invited to attend the Training events based upon their results in the ITCA GBR National Series and a forward commitment to the class. This is a great opportunity for the sailors to train with sailors who they are regularly racing with at these events.

The class association arranged for 3 amazing coaches, these being experienced World Championship winning head coach Steve Irish along with Charlotte Bonnella and Angus Kemp. Charlotte and Angus brought with them a wealth of knowledge in coaching within the Topper Fleet and with Steve leading the weekend, it was guaranteed to give the sailors first class Topper coaching that they could really benefit from.

The forecast for the weekend was set to be light South Westerly on Saturday with this increasing steadily on the Sunday, this would give the coaches and the sailors the opportunity to work together across a really good range of activities.

Following a short welcoming brief from ITCA and the coaches, the sailors were straight onto the water for the morning session with a plan to get the sailors very quickly into the activities, starting with a Windward Leeward warm up exercise. With 24 Sailors in the group; even the warm up activity was a amazing spectacle to see. It was clearly evident that the group of Topper sailors were enjoying every minute with huge amounts of effort and focus being put in by everyone of them.

Following this the course was then set for short races with the coaches constantly moving the pin end to create bias so the sailors really had to think and work out where best to start.

Into the afternoon the group were be split up to complete short beats to the windward mark and then to really test the sailors, the group was brought back together to create compressed mark rounding conditions. By the end of the day and with the light starting to fade, the sailors returned to shore knowing they had really worked hard and were ready for a well-earned rest.

Northampton Sailing Club had an evening of fun and games planned which they kindly extended the invite to our ITCA Sailors. This was a time to relax, socialise and really get to know each other and a great time was had by all.

With the wind picking up on Sunday, Steve, Charlotte and Angus were keen to maximise further the excellent conditions. The briefing was completed by 10am and they were back on water completing one of Steve Irish's favourite exercises... the "Vicious V". The groups then split up and practised attacking and defending downwind, followed by gate mark decision making. It was time for the group to be brought back together again to repeat the exercise; 24 sailors going down wind, defending and mark rounding decision simulating the number of boats you would expect to have completing this manoeuvre at the same time in a National Series (NS) event.

A mini race series was planned for the final afternoon and with the club racing completed, the course was set in front of the clubhouse so the parents/guardians had a great view. This was to be a 4 race series (1 discard) where the sailors could put into place all of the learning from over the weekend. A close battle was fought and it was Jessica Powell (Midlands) coming out on top, followed by Ed Smith (South) and Alex Jones (South).

At the end of the final day, all that remained was to have a debrief from Steve, Charlotte and Angus and then the prize-giving for the best answers to the pre work, the Spot Prizes and the winners of the Mini-Series.

The sailors all enjoyed the weekend spending the maximum amount of time on the water as possible and have taken away a great deal of learning and experience from the coaching. The feedback received from the sailors and parents has been amazing.

A quote from one of the sailors, Nathan Clark summarised the weekend perfectly: "I enjoyed competing and training against the best of the best and learning new skills. The Coaches gave us top quality coaching".

A special thanks also goes to Topper Sailboats who kindly sponsored the prizes for the weekend.

The next Topper ITCA (GBR) National Series Event is at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy (NS2) on 4th and 5th March; entry is open on the ITCA Website ( Topper Sailors will be keen to do as well as they can to put themselves in a position to receive an invite to the next ITCA GBR Invitational Coaching.

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