As a younger kid in school I never really enjoyed sports, I was always the last one to get picked for teams and while I wasn’t particularly bad at sports I just found any form of exercise a real bore. About a year and a half ago that all changed...
For the 8 years we had been living near the Solent, we drove past Hill Head Sailing Club every time we went to the beach. Finally my family and I went in and joined – one of the best things we’ve ever done! The next week was the Hill Head Dinghy Week, where sailors (mostly under 18) can compete against each other in a series of races. I jumped right in and took part in my very old Topper. I loved it. I lost every race by quite a large margin but, nevertheless, I loved it. That’s why, a week later, I was back for the weekend racing. For the next few weekends I was down at the club racing whenever I could. I still wasn't much good but I simply loved being out on the water. I got lots of encouragement from the many enthusiastic sailors, including some who have been world or national champions in different classes, and those who have competed more widely.
In about September time it was suggested that I should join the winter training, JETS. This comprised 6 weekends throughout the winter, specifically to help young Topper sailors to get racing competitively. I loved each weekend more and more, and was learning a huge amount during a short space of time. Whenever I could, even if there was no training on, I would try to be out on the water practising; trying to drill the tacks, gybes and mark rounding's into my memory. After a few weekends of training it was suggested we take part in the 2013 Winter Regatta at Weymouth, the first official Topper event of the year.
It was freezing cold, early February, and seemed to rain continuously during the weekend. Seeing 150 boats being rigged on one slipway was more than a little daunting. However, I had a newer, race-ready boat kindly donated, and a full set of new Rooster gear, and I managed to get out to the course and complete every race, in howling winds. Even if I did only come 127th
I still enjoyed every second and wanted more, so we decided I would practice over the next few weeks and go to the next event, National series 1.
The air may have warmed up a bit but the water was still very cold; National Series 1 was at Datchet reservoir, and with just under 200 entrants I was aiming for under 100th
. However the light winds made the conditions tough for me as I am on the heavier side of the competitive weight range for a topper. I was lying 130th
after the first day but with more wind due on the Sunday I was hoping to improve that slightly. After an okay first race, things still weren’t looking up, however with the winds really starting to pick up for the last race, I managed to get a 17th
, putting me at 97th
overall, and achieving my goal. This was a pretty good result considering I had possibly 3 or 4 years less sailing experience than many of the sailors in the national fleet.
The next event was just a few weeks away and I wanted to improve on my position so I was down at Hill Head every weekend, practicing. This paid off and I managed 96th
place at the National Series 2 at Grafham Water. After that everything seemed to gather momentum; this year I competed in almost all the Topper national events. I train most weekends down at Hill Head, either on my own or with friends, come rain, sun or even snow (The new Rooster Pro Laced Boot
is great for when it does get snowy, not only are they warm but the're incredibly comfy for hiking as well). I will usual spend at least 6 hours on the water at weekends, and a few hours training during the week. I also spend time in the gym, or reading about techniques and strategies. I have continued to improve my results. As well as recently getting a 6th
place in the zone championships, winning the Hill Head Topper Championship, and competing in the Topper World Championships in France, I came 69th
overall in the National championships and got accepted into the ITCA(GBR) UK Youth Squad... quite a result for my first year of serious sailing!
While I am really the right size for a Laser Radial, after getting a place in the UK Youth squad, and having such a fun year I couldn't resist another year sailing a Topper, so I decided to do winter training and all the Topper nationals this year and I'm hoping to start doing some laser training in the spring
Over the last year and a half, throughout my sailing I have found the Rooster blog a great source of hints, tips, and motivation, I have always loved reading about other people's sailing experiences and aspired to many of the sailors on the team, so you can guess how excited I was when Steve emailed me back saying that he would be delighted to have me on the team. I am really looking forward to the season ahead and can't wait for my new SuperTherm LongJohn
and Pro Costal Jacket
to arrive, and hopefully I will be able to get some great results as well!
David Saunders - Topper 273 and The latest Team RoosterMember