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ITCA Topper National Series 2022-2023 - Winner's Summary

by Jessica Powell 20 Sep 11:30 PDT
Racing in the first event of the ITCA Topper National Series at Island Barn © ITCA (GBR)

After finishing fifth in the previous 2021-2022 National Series (NS), my aim was to improve on that, with a hope of finishing in the top three for 2022-2023 along with trying to achieve my first NS event win. I had been to events where I was leading overnight but had never managed to convert that into an event win.

NS1 was due to be held at Carsington however because of an extreme water shortage it was split into NS1 north (Leigh and Lowton SC) - held on the 5th of November - and NS1 south (Island Barn Reservoir SC) - held on the original date of 18th/19th September. Living in the Midlands meant I could attend both. At NS1 south, I struggled to get the hang of the venue and its winds, finishing fifth overall with the event being won by fellow Midlands Sailor Katherine Gunn (235). I had a real mix of results here but finished on a high by winning the last race which gave me confidence for the other NSs.

After putting in lots of long hours of practice at my home club (Draycote Water SC) before the nights started to draw in, during the short gap between the north and south events, the time came for NS1 North at Leigh and Lowton SC. It was a one-day event with the aim to complete six races like traditional two-day events. Five races were finished in some very shifty and light conditions, and I managed to secure all five race wins, which gave me my first ever NS event win.

Over the winter months there was a break from National Series events which allowed for some amazing training as part of the Draycote Academy and the ITCA Invitational Coaching in January.

NS2 was the next event on the calendar, held at WPNSA on the 4th/5th March. It was great to return to Weymouth for an NS after missing it for two years (due to Covid and strong winds). The wind was light on Saturday, and I put in some strong results placing me in first overnight. On the Sunday it was a delayed launch due to waiting for the wind to fill in. After some really close racing, the event was won by Leo Yates (317) with me dropping down to fourth overall. This was the closest event I had ever been involved in as even though I finished fourth, I was only 1 point away from first place.

Just over a month later, was the Inland championships (NS3) held at Grafham water SC. A strong number of 103 competitors in the 5.3 fleet meant for some tight racing. With the forecast for Sunday being very light, it was very important to put in good results on Saturday as there was a real risk of Sunday racing not happening. I achieved top three results in all Saturday's races which again put me in first overall overnight. As forecasted, the reservoir was like a mirror on Sunday morning and at around lunchtime, the race committee put up AP over A making me Inland Champion and giving me my second NS win of the series.

Toppers visited Whitstable on the 20th/21st May for the penultimate event of the 2022/23 series. A breezy weekend was anticipated, and it did not let us down. The big winds and waves on the Saturday meant launching the fleet was impossible so AP over A was risen around midday allowing for the sailors to explore the town and rest ahead of the big day planned for the Sunday.

This was equally as windy as the previous day but with an earlier launch and the tide times changing, launch was made easier. Three races were completed in strong winds and it was a real test to see who in the fleet was the best in these conditions (it was the first breezy event of the series). I had been working very hard over the past months to improve my tidal and wave techniques and with the fleets split into two flights similar to previous NSs, I managed to have two race wins and a second place which me secured second overall behind Leo Yates (317) who got three firsts.

The final event of the series was held at Rutland and there was a range of conditions across the two days including the wind building to 20 knots for the last two races on the Sunday. Throughout the event, consistency was key and I managed to get top six placings including two firsts and that was enough for me to take the event win and winning of the 2022-2023 National Series.

Within the 2022-2023 series I won three out of the five events and had a second and a fourth in the others. I learnt loads throughout the whole series and at each event I found things to work on and to take into the upcoming events after working on it during training. It was a very hard series, and I am so pleased that I was able to win this.

Thanks to Steve Irish / Draycote Academy, GLL Foundation, Rooster, Fernhurst Books and my parents for their support throughout the series.

Also thanks to ITCA (GBR) for organizing a brilliant National Series at lots of great venues and thanks to Russ Dent, of Topper for his amazing help to all of the sailors at the events.

Very quickly, the 2023/2024 National Series will be starting with the opening event at my home club, Draycote Water Sailing Club on 30th Sept / 1st Oct, I am looking forward to the new series as we travel around the country to new and exciting venues - see for more information.

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