So my Topper career is coming to an end, with the nationals, my final event, in a couple of weeks. Of course, this is going to be a sad moment, leaving the boat I have sailed since I started racing nearly two years ago now, and also saying goodbye to lots of friends made along the way who are all going in different directions. I think out of both Topper National Squads, there are only about 5 people going into Radials, with the rest converting to the double handed 29er, so there will be a lot of people to say goodbye to!
However, moving out of my Topper is well overdue, having been far too big for the Topper even when I qualified for the squad last year. It gets frustrating to sail, especially in choppy conditions, where the extra weight results in very slow acceleration if ever slowed by the chop. It does make tactics and strategy a lot more important, as boat speed is dire, but this helps as Radials are far more tactical than anything I have ever done!On that note, the Radial training is going really well and the new challenge is great. I don't consider myself as a Topper sailor any more, as I have nearly always been sailing the Radial since Easter. I've had many amazing training days, with some amazing coaches to get me up to speed as quickly as possible. Queen Mary were fortunate enough to get Nick Thompson, one of the best Laser sailors in the world, to come and coach the Lasers for a day, due to the kind support from Volvo. There were 4 Lasers (three Radials and one full rig), meaning Nick had loads of time to really hone in on what we were doing and give very precise feedback on whatever we wanted to work on. This led to a very productive and informative day which I learnt a lot from. Thank you to Volvo, Nick and Queen Mary for running the day, it was insane!
I also went down to Hayling Island for some more training with Tim Hulse and the Radial group there, all of whom are very fast sailors, most of them having been in Topper National Squad and are now in a Radial Squad. Nice light winds building to 10-12 knots each day in scorching heat led to 6 hour days on the water and 1 hour de-briefs, where we worked mainly on boat speed and lane holding. The Rooster Pro Hikers with a Rooster Lycra Top was the perfect combo for this heat, and when the wind got up a bit, I just slipped on a Thermaflex top for that extra bit of insulation, which kept me nice cool. Tim had a Go-Pro mount which clipped on to the back of a Radial and could see the boat as if he were a metre behind it in a rib, which was pretty cool and meant he was always watching you!
Can't wait for the Autumn events to start, going to change pretty much all the control lines and anything which might break over the summer, so that I don't end up with a million DNC's on my scorecard.