madforsailing test: Topper ISO

The first boat to introduce many concepts now familiar to one design racing in the UK
Topper's ISO, launched in 1996, was the first of a new generation of mass production boats that provided high performance at a budget price. Featuring a now widely used crew weight equalisation system, the ISO was the benchmark for this new wave of fast, fun dinghies. madforsailing’s Peter Bentley teamed up with Europe gold medallist Shirley Robertson, and they took the ISO out in good conditions (for a change) to give her the once over. The test started well - it always does when rigging the boat is a doddle. In particular, the rudder assembly was one of the best we have ever seen. More high points for Ease of Sailing, the boat was as simple as any trapeze dinghy to sail upwind, aided by the powerful purchase on vang and mainsheet. The high boom meant tacking and manoeuvring was easy, stability and control were impeccable on all points of sailing. At one stage during our test we had a helmsman who had never sailed a double-handed boat before, teamed up with a crew who had never trapezed. No problem, and even when we did tip her in (for the test, of course), the boat was easy to right from the capsize, and drained quickly. A thumbs down though, when it came to trying to gybe. If we got the timing wrong the old sheet got caught around the jib tack bowsprit. The moulded non-slip provided good footing where it existed, but ran out in the places it was needed most - on the kick-off strips and the top radius of the gunwale, which made life a bit tricky. In addition, the wings seemed to fill with water and we were concerned that high loads where the spigot enters the wing could be a weak point. The boom looked a bit