Topper-tastic Summer - By Robin Stein
Photo credit: Simon McIlwaine www.wavelengthimage.comOn the 15th & 16th July I was in Lowestoft for a Topper National series event. On Saturday it was very windy with waves building throughout the day. Something that surprised most people was the ripping tide, at times we experienced 4 knots of tide which resulted in plenty of general recalls. As we finally got going I got the hang of the tide and used it to my advantage gaining places. On the second day we had considerably lighter winds but the leftover waves from the day before making for extremely difficult and sloppy conditions. This proved to be challenging especially when we had a massive wind shift resulting in the waves pushing us upwind and against us on the downwind. This made balancing the boat very difficult! Overall the weekend was good fun and very challenging as every leg I had to make a detailed plan as to where I wanted to be and when, as the tide would have a different effect on every leg of the course. My top tip from the weekend would be to always research tide times, directions, strengths and any anomalies that occur on the water.
The following week I travelled to Loctudy in Brittany, France to compete in the Rooster Topper World Championship. I arrived late Saturday evening at the accommodation. This meant I could go out on Sunday for a training session and a practise race in which I did really well in but unfortunately it doesn’t count to the overall result! On Monday it was very windy with waves gradually building during the day. Luckily there was not so much wind meaning I would not have to reef, this meant I did quite well giving me a position of 107th. On the next day the conditions were similar meaning I kept my position give or take a couple of points. On Wednesday (the last day of the qualification series) the wind was stronger than the last two days. Being one of the smaller sailors I struggled to keep the boat flat bringing me some not so good results. Because of this I was put into bronze fleet. On the next day the wind was roughly 7 knots lighter than the day before but there was still plenty of wind! On the first race of the day at 20 seconds till go I snapped the rope on my kicker meaning I had to swap my kicker to the spare kicker on board. This cost me 4 minutes as it was a very fiddly job however I still managed to gain 6 places back from my breakage. On the next day I managed to bring back a 10th followed by a 20th which gained me 10 places overall. On the next day I managed to gain another 5 places with two results in the 20s. Next year I am hoping to compete in the 2018 Topper Worlds in Meisha Campus, China as I really enjoyed sailing with people from other countries and continents, I would definitely recommend the Worlds to someone who is keen to experience something new. Over the course of the week I practiced my wave technique a lot which managed to gain me lots of places. My three top tips from this week would be:
- Always take spares on the water because if something breaks you can continue the race
- Always use opportunities such as practice races to know what the area is like
- Practice your wave technique so you maximise the speed of your boat
Finally I would like to say thank you to my parents for travelling a long way with me!