Big numbers at Topper Inlands

and a new format of racing is tried

Wednesday May 8th 2002, Author: Helen Evans, Location: United Kingdom
A spectacular turn out of 240 boats contested the 2002 Topper Inland Championship at Grafham Water at the weekend. Campbell Davidson of Largs Sailing Club claimed top honours and took silver rose bowl back to Scotland after two days of very close sailing.

National Coach, Dave Cockerill was a hard man to speak to after the racing, constantly advising young hopefuls. When finally cornered Dave commented that he was impressed with the quality of the sailing. "Conditions on the first day produced inconsistent results which perhaps began to settle down by race 3 when the wind increased. Today we saw much more consistent racing with very close competition at the top of the fleet producing a worthy winner. I was out on the water watching and was impressed with the overall standard of racing. Anyone in the top 200 should be well pleased with their performance," he said.

In a change to past arrangements, the fleet was split into four mixed ability groups based on previous record and results. Fleet racing was organised so that each group raced each other twice over the two days in a series of six races for each group.

With increasing numbers at Topper National events the previously used gate starting system was becoming cumbersome and the new system allows for line starts with more shorter races. There were however still 122 boats on the line for any one start. Race Officer Mike Beloe was happy with the two Saturday morning starts but by Saturday afternoon the black flag was being used. He later joked: "They must have left their brains in their lunch boxes!" Despite start lines being set square, there was still a crowd at the committee boat end. This was not enough to stop Stokes Bay sailor, Daniel Belben (44102) getting two rather risky but cracking starts by reaching through with 15 seconds to go and sailing along the line in front of the rest of the fleet.

The lighter helms did well on the first day with Roger Phillips of Great Moor the overnight leader. Stronger winds saw many of these sailors reefing on Sunday for some of the races. For the less experienced and younger competitors the day was quite challenging. As racing progressed it was obvious that the winner was going to be a sailor who excelled in varied conditions.

The last race on Sunday proved to be the decider with the top four contenders (Campbell Davidson, Steve Jackson, Chris Catt and Sam Tozer) all coming to the line together . Davidson came through to win the race securing him the Championship.

Fun and games at the final gybe mark saw a capsize from Jackson who missed his toe strap. Catt was happy to see his rival struggling but also took a swim as he was forced to round the mark tightly and was still on his dagger board as Jackson sailed off for the finish. Ashore Davidsons’s dad reported a thumping heart as he watched the last afternoon from the bank, delighted with his son’s win he was later spotted firmly connected to his mobile phone!

Prizes were presented to the top 35 entrants with special prizes awarded all generously sponsored by Crewsaver.

See page two for results.

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