Hi, this is my first blog since joining Team Rooster. My name is Jake Bowhay, I am 14 years old and I sail from Hill Head Sailing Club. I have just got back from the Topper Worlds at Lake Garda. It was an amazing experience and I am really glad I went.
Friday 17th July
Trailer all packed ready to go
It all started very early on Friday morning as my Dad and I were driving to Garda towing a triple stacker. The first day of travel was fairly uneventful apart from having to take a diversion going to the channel tunnel due to lorries parked up on the motorway. We arrived at our hotel in Germany at around 7 pm.
Saturday 18th July
In the tunnel!
The next day was a much slower day as the whole of Austria was a traffic jam so we only averaged 36 mph over about 350 miles. What’s more the temperature made sitting in the car rather unbearable. At last at around 7 pm we arrived in Riva and dropped the trailer off at the club and met up with the rest of the group at our accommodation.
Sunday 19th July
After waking up at 7am to go for a run with my (slow) dad, I headed down to the sailing club to unpack the trailer and get my boat measured. After a small dispute about where the block on the end of the boom should be measured from, I headed to my squad briefing. We talked about what we were expecting from the venue and what we wanted to do on the water.
Shortly after lunch my squad and I headed out on to the water. We sailed up to where we were going to be racing and checked out the venue. We did some practice windward leewards although we couldn’t lay any marks as we didn’t have a line long enough to reach the bottom of the lake.
The sail in was great fun as the wind and the waves had really built. After a quick debrief we headed to the opening ceremony. We paraded round the town with our flags and a brass band to accompany us. There were 126 competitors in the 5.3 fleet and 30 in the 4.2 fleet. There were sailors from the UK, Ireland, China, France, South Africa and Italy. Then we headed back to our apartment for dinner.
Monday 20th July
After breakfast we headed down to the club to rig up before my squad briefing at 10am. As the temperature was in the high 30's I decided to wear my Rooster Rash Vest
which helped to keep me cool while protecting me from the sun and my Race Armour Lite Shorts
meant I could hike hard while remaining cool.
Then around 12pm we launched off the really short slipway which made things interesting with 150 other boats. Sailing out to the race course took a while as it was much further out than expected due to a windsurfing zone.
I was second start so positioned myself to see what paid off on the first start. I started well however I didn’t get out to the right soon enough which cost me a lot places. I managed to claw back a few places but still came mid-fleet. Not quite how I was hoping to start the Worlds but I knew there was a long week ahead.
Next race I put myself in a better position to get out to the right however disaster struck - when ducking a starboard tacker they capsized on top of me! This meant I had to wait until they righted their boat before I could get going again as their mast had landed on my foredeck. This was extremely frustrating as this incident cost me a lot of time and put me right at the back of the fleet. I managed to gain back quite a few places however I still finished way back from where I wanted to be.
For the last race I was really hoping I could put down a counter as I knew we only had one discard in qualification. I had a good start and rounded the windward mark in the top 15 however I was yellow flagged on the run which cost me about 10 places as the fleet was still very close.
Tuesday 21st July
Fleet waiting to come in
The second day was much better for me with some consistent results which helped to bring me up the fleet. The conditions were very similar to the first day with a starboard bias on the start line.
Wednesday 23th July
After sailing out I realised that the start line was a lot more port biased than previous days, a fact that a lot of people failed to pick up on. This meant I had a great start and rounded the windward mark 8th
however I lost 2 places on the next beat as it turned out the right paid slightly more than the left due to more pressure.
The other two races weren’t great due to two incidents on the start line.
I was keen to get in quickly to see the results from the days racing as I knew I was on the edge between gold and silver fleet. Luckily I had just made it into Gold with one place to spare.
Thursday 24th July
This was the first day of championship racing so I was keen to put in some good results. We launched in a decent breeze however shortly after we reached the race course the wind died probably due to a thunder storm that was happening further up the lake. The race committee put us under an indefinite postponement. Eventually after a couple of hours wait we were sent in.
Friday 25th July
Since one race was needed to constitute a series, the race committee decided that the first warning signal should be at 7:55 to try and catch the last of the peeler. This meant we had to be at the club for a squad briefing at 6:30am! Unfortunately when we got to the club there was no wind, just a lot of rain. So the race committee hoisted AP and once more we were waiting around.
Eventually around mid-day they dropped the AP and sent us out even though there was virtually no wind. This mean it took ages to sail out to the race course only to find they had put AP back up. So we waited around some more until the breeze filled in. The first race of the day was my best of the day but racing was incredibly close compared to the first day with not much separating the fleet. The second race I was doing well again until a port-starboard incident coming onto the lay line meant I had to do turns. The last race was better than the second however was still not as good as I was hoping for. Unfortunately we couldn’t do anymore races as the sailing instructions had a time limit for the final day. So after 3 short sharp races we headed in.
All in all it was a great event and I enjoyed every minute even if I didn’t do quite as well as I hoped to and I’m very much looking forward to the Topper Worlds next year at Ballyholme YC. Next stop pre-national training in Weymouth.