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Kit Guide

Topper National 2015 - Weymouth

By Jake Bowhay 2nd October 2020
After lots of preparation and training the wait was finally over; the Topper Nationals were finally here. My aim coming into the event was to finish in the top half of Gold Fleet which meant better than 32nd. IMG_8760 Saturday 8 Aug
The first day of the regatta was registration and measurement, which took a painfully long time considering that it was self-certification but after an eternity of queuing I was all sorted so could head back to the youth hostel to get an early night. IMG_8770 Sunday 9 Aug
After a hearty breakfast I headed down to WPNSA to finish rigging up and get changed. I was very happy to see that wind was at around 20 kts, gusting 25 kts from the south. At 11:55 we launched with a long reach out to the start line which was great fun. After doing split tacks and sailing a practice beat I decided I would go left on the beat and come in on the port lay line as there was a port tack lift on the left and more pressure as the wind came round the Bill. Race 1. A congested pin end meant I decided to start further up the line so I could punch out and get clean air. With 15 seconds to go I pulled my downhaul on and rip! The stitching on a repair which had been done on my sail after I snapped my mast earlier in the season had parted. This meant I had to sail the rest of the day with no downhaul in 20 knots! I’d like to say a big thanks to Rob Kemp for repairing it again so I could use it the next day. Nevertheless my start went well and I ended up ahead of practically everyone who started at the pin. I stuck to my plan and head out left coming into the windward mark on port. I rounded the windward in 6th place. After losing two places downwind I finished the race 8th. Race 2. Knowing my plan had worked in the previous race I decided to try the same thing again. I rounded in 10th place and gained one place downwind to finish 9th. Race 3. Once again I stuck to my plan and had an even better start rounding in 6th place and holding on until the finish. After the first days racing I was 16th out of 189 sailors which I was very happy with although I knew consistency would be essential to maintain my position Monday 10 Aug
Day two brought a much lighter wind of 12kts, gusting 15 kts from the south-west. The race committee decided that they would try and do four races as the forecast for the next day was looking rather wild. Race 4. I decided to start near the pin and try to get out left to get the wind bend from the Bill. I got a good start however my plan didn’t pay off as there was a right hand shift half way up the course which made it hard to get back to the lay line. However, I managed to sail a good second beat to climb back up to 18th. Race 5. An average start and few silly mistakes cost me dear in this race resulting in a 20th. Race 6. Not a great race where I finished 23rd but I knew that I could do better. Race 7: After a good start in the middle of the line I played the shifts on the left of the race course and rounded in 4th. I held this position to the finish, extending my lead over the next boat. After the second day of racing I had dropped to 35th which I was slightly disappointed about but I was still happy with how I was doing. Tuesday 11 Aug
With the wind gusting over 30 knots the race committee hoisted AP over NP 1 which meant a one hour postponement. We were held ashore slightly longer then eventually at around 1 pm we launched. The sail out to the course was great fun as the wind was really blowing. Race 8. After a good start I ended up easing the kicker slightly on the first beat as I was moving the centre of effort slightly too far back which made it hard to keep the boat moving thought the waves. After gaining some places on the second beat I finished the race 15th which meant I qualified for Gold Fleet 31st out of 65. Wednesday 12 Aug
The first day of championship brought a descent 15 knots of breeze from the south. Race 1. After a good start in the middle of the line I headed left as there was a port lift from the wind bend. My plan worked out pretty well as I finished 25th. Race 2. I stuck to the same plan however when I reached the starboard lay line there was nowhere to tack so I lost places trying to find a gap, finishing a disappointing 46th. Race 3. I stuck to the same plan, however this time I decided to not come in as close to the port lay line so I could tack straight onto the starboard lay line. This paid off well and I finished 15th. Unfortunately my poor result in race 2 meant I had dropped to 35th, however I knew once we got a discard I would move up as I could ditch my 46th Thursday 13 Aug
The second day of championship racing and I was keen to move up the leader board. The wind had delivered once again with 20 knots from the South West. Race 4. I decided to start at the committee boat and head right as it looked like there was more pressure. I had a good start; however the right didn’t pay so I ended up rounding in not such a great position. On the next beat on the outer loop I decided to head left to try and get the wind bend off the Bill. This paid off massively as most of the fleet was still going right so I gained about 25 places to finish 18th. Race 5. This time I started at the pin to get out left. This paid off again and I finished 24th. Race 6. After a great start I headed hard left. This paid off well and I finished 16th despite a silly mistake. After a great days racing I had moved up to 19th place overall which I was very happy with. Friday 14 Aug
We headed down to WPNSA for the final time of the week only to be greeted with very little wind. As a result of this the race committee hoisted AP and we waited around for a couple of hours as the breeze filled in. IMG_8771 Eventually we launched in around 5 kts of breeze. IMG_8777 IMG_8790 Race 7. After a fairly average start, once again I headed left to try to get the wind bend off the Bill. This paid off on the first beat; however I ended up dropping a few places on the second beat due to a right hand shift near the windward mark to finish a disappointing 45th. Race 8. I knew I would need a good race to stay in the top 20 so decided to really push for a good start. I got an amazing start; perhaps too good to be true as it turned out as I had been U flagged! This meant I had to discard a UDF instead of a 43 which cost me valuable points.
Toestraps the horse Toestraps the horse
In the end I finished 25th out of 189, achieving my goal coming into the event. I also won 1st placed non-squad sailor and highest placed first National Championship. Overall it was a great event and I was happy with how I sailed. Well done to Eleanor Poole for a well deserved win. Next stop Rutland for National Series 1 for 2015/2016. IMG_8801

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