Please select your home edition
Edition
Leaderboard FD July August September 2023

ITCA GBR NS4 Coastal Championships at Poole Yacht Club

by Hari Clark 22 May 22:29 PDT 18-19 May 2024
Tom Semmens on his way to event win during the ITCA GBR NS4 Coastal Championships at Poole Yacht Club © Will Hellyer

The NS4 coastal championships saw 115 Topper sailors (85 x 5.3s, 28 x 4.2s, and 2 x 6.4s) travelling from all corners of the UK to Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world (second only to Sydney's in size).

All received a warm welcome by Historic Poole Yacht Club, with its bespoke carpeting, excellent catering, and 'no hats' policy. On arrival, Topper sailors were treated to a slick but friendly level of organisation, including regimental trailer parking, a multitude of water hoses, and ample changing spaces. Topper Russ from Topper International was also on-hand to work his 'Topper magic' on any boats needing repairs or replacements, though in the mostly pleasant Poole weather he presumably had more time for an occasional strong cup of tea than at last year's coastal NS4 venue of Whitstable.

The forecasts for very light winds from the Northeast on Saturday, strengthening to a good breeze on Sunday, were (just for a change) not totally wrong. So the 11:15 am launch time came and went, with the brightly coloured windsock refusing to do more than twitch and wiggle to tease the sailors, who waited patiently, playing cards, kicking footballs, and wandering on the seaside rocks. By mid-afternoon the decisive PRO, Ross Ryan, sent out the 5.3 fleet followed by the 4.2s.

All experienced the 'in-line' tallying to gain access to the launching beach, where friendly parent helpers in waders or rolled-up trousers helped boats to enter the water. The sailing area was the top triangle, opposite Poole Yacht club and south of the main (big boat) channel, with the 5.3s (and 6.4s) slightly closer to the club and the 4.2s nearer Brownsea Island.

Three races were completed by all of the toppers on day 1, with 4.2s finishing earliest. Race 1 in the 4.2s was all down to boat speed and a good start, which was what Sam Mason and Finlay Rhodes did best, coming first and second respectively. Race 2 featured many 4.2s not checking the bias and tide, and there was much crowding around the committee boat end. Jonathan Shields seized this opportunity, and won the race by miles leaving Hari Clark a distant second. However, in race 3 Hari finished the day with a first place followed by Finlay, to leave Hari leading overnight tied on points with Sam Mason, and Henry Cruse in third.

In the 5.3s, there were many recalls and then the tide started to turn, favouring the right side of the course. However, the tide was less of a factor than anticipated, and adaptable race plans and finding the 'puffs' were the key skills needed. Thomas Semmens clearly had these skills, and made his presence felt - with two 'bullets' in the first two races and a second place in the third and final race, leaving him the overnight leader.

Also having a great day, Kat Gunn had a first place in race 1, followed by two third places, putting her in second place overnight. Current National Champion, Jessica Powell, was slightly below her normal high standards with a fourth and third in the first and second races - but finished strongly with a win in race 3 to place her third at the end of the day, level on points with Felix Harle.

Day 2

In a very overcast start to the day, coaches Robin and Kate noticed boats piling-up at the committee-boat end of the 5.3's first race, though there was no advantage to this strategy - the winning formula being stringing together gusts and tacking on shifts. Thomas mastered these skills with another first, with Felix adding a second to his consistently sound set of results so far. In race 5, Thomas gained his fourth bullet, making him uncatchable and sealing his win with one race in hand. Meanwhile, Harry Mills added a first to his tally, placing him into firm contention for second place overall.

Finally in race 6, with second places for Thomas and Harry, and firsts for Felix and Zac Chappell, the final 5.3 results were revealed: a well-deserved first place for Thomas Semmens, followed by Harry Mills in second, and Felix Harle in third. Well done Thomas!

In the 6.4s, Louis Voss added three first places to his three points from day 1 to give him a clean win ahead of his only 6.4 challenger, Erica Bishop.

Meanwhile, in the 4.2s, the race management team worked hard to finish all five remaining scheduled races, completing the eight-race series, and so providing the 4.2 sailors with two discards. Day 2 saw the 4.2s going out first and coming in last, well after the 5.3s. The day was dominated by a very close battle between Hari Clark and Sam Mason. In race 4, the wind picked-up, and owing to an oscillating direction the right side of the beat had the bias. Sam noticed this and went right early, creating a large gap between him and the fleet. However, Henry made a big comeback at the very end giving him the win and Sam second place.

Race 5 was port biased, which only two boats noticed - Hendricks Long and Hari. Hendricks did a port flyer and crossed the fleet, whilst Hari continued going left, crossing the fleet later and securing another win by a very considerable distance.

Solid results from Sam in race 6 and 7 put him in the lead going into the final race, which started with seconds to spare before the 2:30 pm deadline. The last race was port biased again, which a lot of the top fleet picked up. Tom Smith got a great start and banged left, crossing the fleet by miles. Unfortunately, Tom forgot about the reach mark until someone told him he'd missed it. By this time Hari had caught-up, followed by Phileas Rousselle, and all three were close together downwind. However, Tom followed by Hari pulled away and were neck and neck, but an early gybe by Tom allowed Hari to secure his third first place, giving him the overall 4.2 win. Sam was close behind in second overall, just one point behind, with Henry finishing in a well-deserved third place overall.

A massive thank you to Poole Yacht Club for making everyone so welcome, all the volunteers for their help running the event so smoothly, and especially to the class sponsors for their continued support, Harken, Optimum Time, Rooster and Topper!

NS5 is the next and final event of the 2023-24 NS series on 29-30 June at Derwent Reservoir. This is in the beautiful location of Consett, County Durham - not to be confused with the equally picturesque Derwent Water in Cumbria! Hopefully I will see you there (at Derwent Reservoir, not Derwent Water that is).

Overall Results: (PDF format)

Related Articles

NEYYSA North Junior Championships
Fantastic Festival of Youth & Junior Sailing at Derwent Reservoir 143 U19 sailors from 21 regional clubs and associations converged at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club over the weekend of 22 & 23 June 2024 for the North Junior Championships. Posted today at 6:05 am
P&B Northampton Youth Series Round 3 at Hollowell
A fantastic 50 sailors sign up for the day Wow. What an event! More than 50 sailors signed on for third round of this year's series. The sailing club rigging areas and car park were jam packed with enthusiastic youth and junior sailors. Posted on 21 Jun
Rooster Southern Topper Travellers at Stokes Bay
35 sailors enjoy perfect central Solent conditions Stokes Bay Sailing Club was host to the third event of this year's Rooster Southern Topper Traveller Series. Thankfully the wind had abated overnight, so the thirty-five sailors could enjoy perfect Stokes Bay conditions with a 15-20knots South Westerly. Posted on 20 Jun
Topper SW Traveller at Dittisham
A weekend of training and racing The South West Traveller Series was kindly hosted by Dittisham Sailing Club for a weekend of training and racing on the 15th and 16th of June. Posted on 19 Jun
Topper Midlands Championships at Notts County
Sudden gusts proved challenging not only to sailors but also to equipment Hot on the heels of the ITCA Midlands Topper Traveller Series, the sailors were back on the water for the Topper Midlands Championships held at Nottinghamshire County Sailing Club on 8th and 9th June 2024. Posted on 11 Jun
Topper Eastern Areas at Snettisham Beach
Strong northerly wind provides something different from previous years Expectations were high for the Eastern Area ITCA Championships at Snettisham Beach Sailing Club. The last two years of events at Snett', the weather has been glorious. This year we had promises that it would be even better! Posted on 10 Jun
Southwest Topper Traveller Series at Saltash
An excellent turnout for the fifth event of the series Saturday 1st of June saw the fifth instalment of the SW Topper Traveller Series hosted by Saltash SC. An enormous amount of pre planning and social media pushing guaranteed an excellent turnout. Posted on 5 Jun
Topper Ireland/ITCA Traveller at Donaghadee
Training session held before two days of racing Last weekend, May 26th and 27th Donaghadee Sailing Club played host to the third Topper Ireland/ITCA Traveller event of 2024. Posted on 31 May
Toppers at Portchester
Rooster Southern Topper Traveller Series Event 2 For Event 2 of the Rooster Southern Topper Traveller Series we headed over to Portchester SC on Sunday May 12th. Portchester is blessed with a fantastic sailing area, but only once the tide is in, hence a leisurely start to the day was in order. Posted on 19 May
P&B Northamptonshire Youth Series at Middle Nene
Galley team laid on such a spread it took several trestle tables to display Well, I blame Bill Gates, but more of that later on. An impressive 40+ boats signed on for the second round of the P&B Northamptonshire Youth Series at Middle Nene Sailing Club. The events are growing in popularity. Posted on 15 May
J Composites J/992024 fill-in (bottom)Selden 2020 - FOOTER