Topper Midlands 2019

Record Number of Toppers at Notts County Sailing Club for the ITCA Midlands Champs 2019

This 2-day event was once again held at Notts County SC over the weekend of 15thand 16thJune. Despite the horrendous downpours during the preceding week Saturday morning saw blue skies and a forecast of 10 gusting 15 knots as 34 sailors registered for the event.  After a welcome by event co-ordinator Kathryn Hinsliff-Smith, introductions were made to the experienced NCSC race team of Ken and Sue Twemlow and a merry band of club volunteers, this promised to be an exciting and well planned event. A race briefing aimed at junior sailors, including more novice sailors and those on the Topper circuit, was held including a briefing on flags, courses and plans for the 2-day Championship. Since the forecast was near perfect it was planned to run 4 races back to back commencing at 11 am. After stocking up on a hearty breakfasts, applying sun cream and bottles filled, sailors were launched and nervous parents looked on with binoculars, or went for a walk around the lake.

Thirty four sailor’s launched of which 10 were on the smaller 4.2 rigs and all from the home club showing the option of competing at this level across all ages and weights and encouraging those new to Topper only events.

Race 1 was officially abandoned due to a timing error on the committee boat, much to the disappointment of the GBR RYA race squad who secured top places.  After switching the batteries (or kicking the old timer) normal service resumed and Race 2 got underway.  It soon became apparent that there were a split in the fleet with the front pack made up of the GBR RYA Topper squad sailors of Paling, Hinsliff-Smith, Thomas, Singleton and Robertson, followed by the sailors from the RYA Midlands zone of Grayton, Hopkinson, Quinn, Berry, McMullan, Ewbank, Bray, Keenan, Piggott, Moore. The remaining sailors were predominately Notts County sailors some new into Topper sailing or in the Clubs own Youth Racing Squad. Race one was won by William Thomas from Notts County with Kate Robertson from Swarkestone taking 2ndplace. The 4.2 fleet came in from 20thplace onwards with 1stEddie Quinn followed by Edward Paling.

Race 2 saw a change of course as the wind shifted slightly and with a lead boat the sailors soon got to grips with the increasing gusts and the shifting conditions. In Race two Ben Paling, from Notts County, took the hooter, closely followed by William Thomas with Race 3 saw another winner with ex Zone squad sailor Thomas Link from Leigh & Lowton with Molly Hinsliff-Smith from Notts County taking the 2ndplaced spot. Some of the younger less experienced sailors were showing the strain as we entered Race 4 of the back to back races and some wishing they had fuelled up more from the array of food available from Pauline’s kitchen.   Again it was close in the 4.2 fleet with Edward Paling scoring a 17thplace.

The final scheduled race saw some dark clouds looming and some more shifty conditions, exactly as forecast, but which way paid up the 1stbeat? The committee boat moved to finish on a shortened course which threw a few competitors and even led to a protest but Greg Cornes from Chase SC took the top spot followed by Ben Paling. Greg won the event last year and was clearly now finding his form after stepping into a Laser.

The end of Day 1 saw the top 3 spots going to Notts County Sailors, Paling, Thomas, Hinsliff-Smith with special mention to Matthew Gunn who despite coming in last had to endure the pouring rain, a capsize on the homeward straight watched by 33 sailors on shore. Likewise the 4.2 sailors were close with Edward Paling, Caitlin Thomas and Eddie Quinn vying for places. 

After a hearty meal, many juniors still had energy to pitch their tents, play some silly games with a chocolate bar (and gloves, hat & scarf) and complete a bunting painting competition. Visitors enjoyed staying at the club along with free camping and catering facilities.

Day 2 started with a similar forecast, a little cooler and some blue skies.  The NOR indicated an early start, 9am for 3 races to make a series of 7. A few fuzzy heads but that tended to be mainly parents, perhaps it was because it was Father’s Day? A few of the sailors under canvas also looked to be suffering too.

Race 5 saw William Thomas and Kate Robertson find their form making this exciting watching from the balcony along with some nervous parents. With Race 6 ending with Charlie Hopkinson from Notts County stealing the show with a resounding win leading from the windward mark. Definitely a name to watch in the future. This meant those on the shore were quickly calculating this Championship was going to be very close, currently one place between Paling and Thomas, and it was all down to the final race to declare the winner along with the 4.2 fleet closely battling between 1st, 2ndand 3rdplace.

Paling was out of the starting blocks first, closely followed by Cornes, but on the homeward leg Paling had a dramatic death roll looking like Will Thomas might be assured of the Championship only to find Ben Paling recovered and managed to secure 2ndplace with Cornes picking up his 2ndwin of the series.  Overall Ben Paling from Notts County won on 10 points, William Thomas, Notts County on 11 points, 3rdplace went to Greg Cornes from Chase SC. As is customary the prizes were split between top 3 boys and top 3 girls going to Kate Robertson, Swakestone SC and Molly Hinsliff-Smith and Heather Quinn both from Notts County. In total 12 of the 34 competitors were female aged between 12 and 16.

Prizes were also awarded to the 4.2 fleet with Caitlin Thomas, Edward Paling and Eddie Quinn all from Notts County finishing 21st, 23rdand 24threspectively.  Prizes were also awarded to top Notts County Sailor Charlie Hopkinson, 1stplaced Midlands zone sailor Taylor Berry and two unsupported sailors from Trimpley, Matthew Chadderton and Toby Gammond and Endeavour to Matthew Gunn from Notts County SC.

At the packed prize giving organiser Kathryn Hinsliff-Smith commended all the sailors for their sailing prowess as well as their positive attitude to sailing.  Kathryn added that it was a pleasure to host this prestigious event with special mention to the series sponsors Harken and ITCA and to thank all the many volunteers who had made the event such a great occasion. The event saw 34 sailors drawn across 9 sailing clubs and 22 sailors from Notts County drawing on the next sailing generation, thanks to the Clubs RYA OnBoard activities. Here’s to 2020.

Kathryn Hinsliff Smith (who led the team from Notts County)


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