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GJW Direct Topper Winter Championship at the WPNSA

by Katherine Gunn 9 Mar 07:15 PST 4-5 March 2023
GJW Direct Topper Winter Championship at the WPNSA © James Mills

Following the previous North-South separated National Series 1 events, everyone was happy to be back together for a great weekend of racing at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA).

ITCA organised on-the-water coaches for the event, so on Thursday evening, competitors attended an online briefing from the coaches, for advice for the weekend ahead, with top tips specific for the venue, wind forecast and coastal racing. Saturday's forecast was expecting a cold north easterly breeze blowing off the Jurassic coast, bringing shifty and light conditions.

Russ Dent of Topper sailboats was onsite early, busy from the start helping sailors with replacement parts and repairs to insure everyone was championship ready. He also had a boat on the roof of the van which was the new Topper Hull, sailors launched and then the new boat was rigged and on display for parents and sailors to have a good look over during the weekend.

Eagerly, close to 140 contestants waited to launch after collecting their tally and flight ribbons.

Sailors briefing Sam ITCA GBR class chair welcomed everyone and thanked the class sponsors, GJW Direct, Topper sailboats, Rooster, Harken and Optimum time before handing over to race officer Adrian Stoggall to outline the weekends racing.

The first start of the weekend was the 4.2s with 29 sailors entered (the biggest 4.2 entry for several years); swiftly followed by yellow and blue flights; and then red and white. In the 4.2s, Victory Montgomery took the lead with Lucas Keen and Oscar Lay following behind. Yellow and blue was won be Jessica Powell (NS1 North winner), then Rory Clow and Sam Morley. In white and red, Alex Jones finished first with Katherine Gunn and Harry Mitchell following close behind.

The second race was taken by Rory Clow who had Katherine Gunn and Jasper Focardi Dolling sailing behind in red vs yellow. Keah Edwards, Olly Smith and Alex Van Doren battled it out in blue vs white.

Leo Yates took his first win of the event chased by Jake Davies and Jessica Powell for the final race of the day. Jasper Focardi Dolling took an early lead in red vs blue from banging the right hand side of the course, closely followed by Zac Chappell and Jasper Bramwell.

Jessica Powell was lying in first place overnight with a set of consistent results after a shifty, unpredictable day; with Jasper Focardi Dolling at 2nd and Alex Jones 3rd.

The coaches did a debrief on Saturday evening using videos and information on the wind changes during the day, highlighting different starting techniques and also answering any questions the competitors or parents had. This was really useful for sailors on the following day.

On Sunday the sailors woke up to find racing had been postponed for an hour due to little breeze, however forecasts showed the wind was due to shift and the breeze to pick up around mid-day. To pass time the coaches did another briefing reminding sailors to stay focused, fed and to drink lots of water. The sailors also made use of this time to charge around and talk with people from different regions, as sailing is also a very social and friendly sport.

Finally, at around noon D flag was flying and competitors started to launch, happy to be back on the water. The fourth race of the weekend and first race of day two was led by Katherine Gunn with Ethan Rhodes and Felix Harle fighting behind in red vs white. Leo Yates took his second win of the event trailed by Rory Clow and Zac Chappell. Rory and Kat were leading on equal points (5) with Jessica Powell and Leo close behind on 9 points. The top four battled it out in the final race yellow vs red, with an obvious starboard end bias the start meant everything. Leo Yates managed to win the starboard end closely followed by Jasper Bramwell, Leo was first round the windward mark closely followed by Jasper, then Jessica Powell, Sam Brown, Katherine Gunn and Rory Clow. Leo had the four point lead he needed to win on Katherine and Rory. Rory managed to overtake both Katherine and Sam Brown into a winning position, until the last leg where Sam manged to squeeze in front of Rory giving Leo the winning result.

Leo Yates took the event honours on count back closely followed by Rory Clow, Katherine Gunn and Jessica Powell, with only a 1 point difference between the top four. In the 4.2s Henry Noel won then Harry Mills and Charles Wood, who won both races on day 2.

Well done to all the sailors and thank you to WPNSA for hosting such a great event; and to all the ITCA organisers and volunteers, the amazing race committee and the coaches.

Thank you to all our sponsors - Topper sailboats, Rooster, Optimum Time, GJW and Harken - for supplying the event with prizes and brilliant support towards the Topper class.

NS3 is the next National Series event, to be held at Grafham on 15-16 April 2023. See you there!

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