2016 Rooster Topper World Championships
This year’s journey to the Topper Worlds started very early on Thursday morning with an overnight ferry crossing from Fishguard to Rosslare and drive to Ballyholme Yacht Club. On arrival a couple of friends asked if I wanted to go for a quick sail. So we went out and ended up doing a few races with some of the sailors from Cork Yacht Club which was good fun. The next day I met up with my old coach Dave Cockerill and went sailing with the Chinese and Thai sailors that he was coaching.
The following two days were spent training with my squad where we aimed to learn as much possible about the venue and its mysterious tides which seemed to come from every direction at some point. In the evening we had the opening ceremony which turned into a competition for the tallest flag.
For the first day for qualifying we were greeted with 15 knots of breeze and quite a bit of chop. I had a solid first two races finishing 3rd and 4th. The left hand side of the course seemed to pay due to a convergent breeze. Before the last race the wind swung right which meant any strategies from earlier races longer no applied. The last race was my worst with a 13th however I was happy with how I’d climbed through the fleet during the race. A reasonable first day although not quite as good as I would'ved of liked.
Unfortunately the next day the wind was too light and unstable to race.
Wednesday brought some wind although only around 7 knots. In the first race I had a mediocre 11th but I knew I needed to get some better results if I was to move up the overall standings. The next race was much better and I was joint first round the windward mark and then… the wind died and the race was abandoned. We then had a postponement as the wind fought itself from two different directions. The wind stabilised enough to have another race in which I came 5th. The final race was looking like another good result, rounding the windward mark in 3rd but then the wind shifted 180 degrees and the race was canned. A very frustrating day on the water!
First day of championships dawned and once more we were greeted with light winds. There was only one race due to extremely poor visibility in which I came 22nd. This gave plenty of time for the Masters race where my dad “showed me how it was done” by coming 5th from last!
The final day of racing brought very different conditions with strong winds and big waves. The first race didn’t go to plan as the carabiner broke and ripped half the tack webbing. This meant I had to sail without a downhaul for the first race which wasn’t fast considering the breeze so I got a 24th. I subsequently went on to get 14th, 11th and 17th. Not my best results but managed to finish 10th overall which was just inside my goal. Well done to Elliot for winning and thanks to Simon McIlwaine (http://www.wavelengthimage.com/) for his amazing photos.