Topper South East Travellers and Chipstead Topper Open at Chipstead Sailing Club
by Jane Marshall 07 Sep 2019
40 Toppers from 13 clubs around the South East gathered for the 11th event in the SE Topper Traveller Series, that was run in parallel with the annual Chipstead Topper Open. They were greeted with moderate North Westerly, which challenged race officer Bob Murrell to set a fair course, given the long and thin East/West layout of the lake.
The first race was started from the far South East of the lake, with a long fetch to the first mark. Local veteran Tom Collie used his experience to stay clear of the crowded Committee boat end of the line and sail into a commanding lead in clear air. He was closely followed around the course by Luka Franklin from nearby Bough Beech and James Crossley of Datchet Water SC – but there were no place changes and they finished in this order. For the second race, the fleet were overly keen on the line, forcing a general recall and inevitably bringing out the black flag for the rest of the day. By now, the Travellers had figured out the best route around the lake, hugging the South shore to escape the large wind shadow across the North of “the narrows” and they dominated proceedings. James Crossley took the gun, followed by Antonio Pascali of Island Barn SC and then South Bank SC’s Henry Koe.
The sailors returned ashore for a well-deserved lunch. Meanwhile the wind was starting to lighten and swing a little to the North East as predicted. This prompted the race officer to start the afternoon races from the South West of the lake, presenting the sailors a new challenge of learning the new course. This swung the advantage back to the local sailors, and so it proved with the top four around the course being from Chipstead SC. They were led from start to finish by former Chipstead Topper Open winner Luke Hagon, following a bold port tack pin-end start. There were a few place changes in a frantic short final beat, with Hugo Valentine from Chipstead SC, coming back from a dreadful start crossing behind the entire fleet, finishing 2nd and Tom Collie keeping his regatta chances alive with a 3rd.
There was all to play for going into the final race – James and Tom tied for 1st place with a discard with Hugo and Antonio also tied 2 points behind the leaders. James did a fine job of match-racing Tom out of contention before the start, and then had Antonio and Hugo to worry about as the 3 broke away from the chasing pack. Extremely close racing on the downwind leg, and fighting between the 3 of them, allowed Doug Haig of Chipstead SC to close right up and join the battle. Antonio sailed well to hold off the challenges and win the race – but James did enough to take the event by finishing 2nd.
After a very close 4 races, there were only 4 points separating the top 4 of James Crossley, Antonio Pascali, Tom Collie and Hugo Valentine. First lady was Kaitlyn Wyatt and first Youth being Anne Fredborg, both from Papercourt SC. Full results can be found here https://sailwave.com/results/Chipstead-SC-Topper-Open-2019.htm
This event is unique on the SE Topper circuit, as it mixes the juniors with experienced veterans – equally competing throughout the fleet. After racing, prizes were awarded before all the cakes baked by Chipstead SC members were devoured by the hungry sailors. A big thank you goes to the race committee, volunteers and caterers from Chipstead Sailing Club that helped made the event such a great success.