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ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series 2022-23 Round 6 at Banbury Sailing Club

by Mike Powell 21 Feb 00:14 PST 18 February 2023
ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series 2022-23 Round 6 at Banbury - Preparation for the event start © Donna Powell

After losing Round 5 of the Midlands Traveller Series due to fog, the Midlands Topper Sailors were excited to get back on the water for Round 6 at Banbury Sailing Club on Saturday 18th February 2023.

With 24 sailors entered and the winds forecasted looking very good, the rigging area was buzzing with excitement with very enthusiastic youngsters.

The wind direction was expected to stay quite consistent in a Westerly direction with a base of approximately 14-16 knots, dropping slightly in the afternoon. A number of sailors sensibly, based upon forecast, opted for the smaller 4.2 sail to ensure they could make the best of their sailing day.

With the series standings now finely poised with currently leader, Jessica Powell (Draycote SC) knowing that 1 more event win would clinch the Midlands Series title, however if Katherine Gunn (Notts County SC) took the event win, then it would close the series considerably and give her a good opportunity to race for the title at the following rounds.

The 4.2 Series was also very tight between series newcomer: Hari Clark (Draycote SC) and Alex Chadborn (Notts County SC) with only 3 points separating them going into this event.

Our Race officer for the day was the experienced (and recently appointed Commodore for Banbury SC) Stuart Harris and he was keen to get the sailors away on schedule.

Race 1 started on time at 10.30am and with a relatively short windward beat due to the geometry of the facility compared with the wind, it was going to be important to reach the windward mark in a strong position. First to do this was series contenders Jessica Powell and Katherine Gunn, followed by Jasper Focardi-Dolling (Dovey SC). Katherine slowly edged closer and closer, finally making the pass on the 2nd lap upwind beat; crossing Jessica, however at the windward mark in dropping wind conditions, Katherine under-laid the mark allowing Jessica back through. Jessica would then stretch out the lead taking the first race win from Katherine in 2nd and a strong finishing Jasper in 3rd.

Race 2 got under way with the winds unexpectedly dropping and it was race 1 winner, Jessica Powell making a strong start and again reaching the windward mark in the lead. There was then a close battle between the 4 sailors of Chloe Grayton, Katherine Gunn, Sammy Mason (all Notts County SC) and Jasper. These 4 sailors found themselves battling with each other on the course which allowed Jessica to break away from the chasing pack; looking to seal her 2nd win of the day. In the meantime, the chasing 4 sailors had split, with Chloe and Katherine managing to shake off Jasper and Sammy, however it could not be closer between Chloe and Katherine as they reached the finish. With Jessica taking the race win by a strong margin, it was the young gun of Chloe who held a marginal lead over Katherine on the final run, defending into the leeward mark. Katherine would round less than a boat length behind and then set about getting windward of Chloe, however Chloe was just able to hold on to take 2nd place. Jasper consolidated with a good 4th place, just ahead of Sammy in 5th.

At the lunchbreak, it was Jessica leading with 2 wins followed by Katherine and then the consistency of Jasper in 3rd. The 4.2's was being led by Oliver Baron (Staunton Harold SC) with Hari Clark (Draycote SC) just 2 points behind. With the winds continuing to defy the forecast and dropping further, this had potential to mix the fleet up considerably in the afternoon.

Race 3 got under way after a short break with the race officer deciding to change the course. This change was put in place very efficiently by the race team and soon we were under way again. Jessica immediately hit the front with Katherine chomping at her rudder, with Chloe not far behind. Katherine knew she needed to win this race so was pushing very hard, splitting the tacks upwind and covering Jessica as much as possible downwind, Jessica was very much in defend mode to try and control the lead position. This strategy paid off and Jessica managed to hold on and take the race 3 victory to win the event and also the Midlands Traveller Series. Chloe came in a very strong 3rd place, giving her a real shot at achieving her first event top 3 finish. In the 4.2 classification, Hari put in another superb result, finishing 13th overall which moved him ahead of Oliver in the standings.

Into race 4, the wind continued to drop and questions were starting to be asked if this would be abandoned. Luckily there was just enough wind for this to continue and race officer quickly got them under way. Jessica, looking to make it 4 straight wins led the fleet to the windward mark, but only just. Chloe, growing in confidence as the day progressed was just behind, followed by a 4 way battle between Katherine, Jasper, Sammy and Keali Rhodes (Northampton SC). Slowly but surely the 2 leaders pulled away from the group and Chloe, who knew a 2nd place ahead of Katherine would not only guarantee her a top 3 finish, it would move her into a finishing position of 2nd overall. However, Chloe wanted more, she was looking for her first race win and was pushing very hard and again, Jessica found herself having to defend her lead. Jessica held on and with a shortened course of only 2 laps, due to the wind conditions, took the race 4 win. Alex Chadborn saved the best till last, winning the 4.2's in the final race, finishing 14th overall.

Jessica Powell (Draycote SC) took the event honours with 4 straight race wins, followed by Chloe Grayton (Notts County SC) 2nd and Katherine Gunn (Notts County SC) finishing 3rd. The 4.2 classification win went to Hari Clark (Draycote SC), followed by Alex Chadborn (Notts County SC).

The award for the "Top Topper True Grit" award was presented by the event coach, Rachel Heggs to Emily Dengate (Pennine SC) who following a capsize just after launch in the morning, immediately refocussed and delivered her best event result of the series, finishing 13th overall. Well Done!

Congratulations to Jessica Powell (Event and Series Winner), Hari Clark (4.2 Winner) and our "True Grit" Topper Sailor; Emily Dengate.

Thank you to Banbury SC for a superb and excellently run event with all of the sailors having a great day. A special mention for the post race snacks that the club kindly laid on for the sailors, it was very much appreciated.

With the series wrapped up by Jessica, all of the other places are still up for contention. Katherine is in a very strong 2nd place with Chloe jumping up into 3rd place. This final spot on the podium is separated by only 1 point between Chloe, Jasper and Sammy, with Keali only 4 points behind. The final 2 events in the series are going to be very exciting between these sailors.

The 4.2 sail classification is still being led by Alex Chadborn, however Hari Clark, after his Banbury class win is now on equal points with Alex, making it all to play for.

Thanks also to our event Sponsors; Topper Sailboats; Rooster and GJW Direct for their continued support of Midlands Topper Traveller Series

The next event in the series is Round 7 at Northampton Sailing Club on Saturday 25th March 2023, Entry is now open and booking in is through the ITCA Website. Northampton is a long-established venue for the Midlands Toppers and is a great place to sail, having recently hosted the ITCA (GBR) Invitational Training weekend. We look forward to you joining us there.

If any Junior Midland Topper sailors are interested in participating at the ITCA Midlands Traveller events, it is a great opportunity to enter a friendly and local race series. Please contact us on the email address if you would like any more information.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoChamp NoHelmRigR1R2R3R4Pts
1st46391611Jessica Powell5.3‑11113
2nd48535315Chloe Grayton5.3‑62327
3rd48571235Kat Gunn5.3232‑47
4th48193189Jasper Focardi Dolling5.334‑5310
5th47354613Sammy Mason5.345‑6514
6th4890726Keali Rhodes5.35‑64615
7th4697127Oscar Rowe5.3777‑921
8th46241205Oli Rogers5.3‑888723
9th3176723William Mawby‑Groom5.3‑999826
10th45370176Peter Astley5.3101010‑1130
11th46124250Laurie Lamb5.311.51112‑1634.5
12th48367304Matthew Gayler5.311.5‑16151339.5
13th44165673Emily Dengate5.3‑2012181040
14th47533147Hari Clark4.2161313‑2142
15th46135285Jai Dhaliwal5.3‑1715111743
16th47023161Charlie Millward5.3‑2119141245
17th3618225Alex Chadborn4.215‑23161445
18th42356356Oliver Baron4.21314‑232047
19th45747242Ed Whittaker4.21418‑221547
20th47738 William Clarke4.218‑20201856
21st48214871Peter Gathergood4.219‑21211959
22nd47762345Edward Croxton4.2‑2222172261
23rd41858195Harry Mallen4.22317‑242464
24th45197349Sam Udal‑Bell4.2‑2424192366

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