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ITCA (GBR) Invitation Coaching at Poole Yacht Club

by Mike Powell 3 Jul 23:33 PDT 1-2 July 2023
ITCA (GBR) Invitation Coaching at Poole © James Harle

The GBR Class Association for Toppers (ITCA-GBR) organised an Invitational Coaching Event at Poole Yacht Club on 1st / 2nd July where we had 24 very enthusiastic Topper sailors from across the country in attendance looking to hone their racing skills ahead of the upcoming World and National Championships.

This is the 2nd Invitational Coaching event of the year, where Sailors are invited to attend the Training events based upon their recent 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 others who they are regularly racing with at these events.

The class association arranged for 3 amazing coaches, these being the very experienced head coach Helena Lucas MBE along with Tom Scott and Mark Ripley. Tom and Mark bring with them a wealth of knowledge in coaching within the Topper Fleet and with Helena 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 looked to be very good with Westerly winds and with the location of Poole YC in the heart of Poole Harbour, the scene was set for the coaches to work through a range of different activities.

Following a short welcoming brief from ITCA, the coaches were straight into working with the sailors going through what the weekends activities would entail and soon after this, the sailors were on the water for the morning session. Initially the 24 Sailors were broke into 3 groups conducting Rolling Starts and then following this activity, all 3 groups were then brought together to complete this activity as a single group. It was evident that the Topper sailors were enjoying every single minute of the conditions and the coaching with huge amounts of effort and focus being put in by every one of them.

Into the afternoon the focus was to work on how the tide can affect the starts, lay lines and mark rounding's. The individual groups joined back up again which gave the opportunity for the sailors to put this into practise further, along with deploying all the learning they had taken throughout the day into some short course racing.

For Sunday the forecast had initially been for the wind to reduce slightly however very quickly we were seeing a base of 15 knots, with gusts up to 20 knots still in the westerly direction. Helena and the coach team launched the fleet quickly in the morning and by 10am they were into their coaching routines such as beating up to a selection of different windward marks and another activity where the fleet had to manoeuvre in the opposite direction to the lead boat giving the sailors a lot to think about regarding tactical decision making on the water and with the building winds, this was both physically and technically challenging for the sailors.

During the first part of the Sunday afternoon session the coaches gave the sailors the question on areas they want to work on and one of these was working on long tuning runs. This was really great to watch the 24 sailors complete this with the backdrop of the Purbeck Hills. There was no let-up in the coaching schedule and the sailors were then into the final part of the weekend and with the winds continuing to build, a triangle-sausage course was set for some racing. By the end of day 2, it would have been totally understandable for energy levels to drop, but far from it. The sailors were having such an amazing time working with the coaches, their energy levels and focus continued right until the end of the day, making for some excellent racing, (and some amazingly fast reaches).

The sailors all enjoyed the weekend spending an amazing amount of time on the water with sunshine and windy conditions, taking away a great deal of learning and experience from the coaches. The feedback received from the sailors and parents has been amazing.

A special thanks to all our coaches and volunteer parents/guardians who really made the weekend so much fun and full of learning. Thanks also to the team at Poole YC who made us all feel so welcome.

With the Topper ITCA (GBR) National Series Event 2022-2023 series now drawn to conclusion, look out for entry opening shortly for the 2023-2024 National Series, with Round 1 taking place at Draycote Water Sailing Club on 30th September / 1st October. Keep an eye on the ITCA Website ( for when entry opens. 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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