The annual Topper Challenge was held last Sunday (3rd November) hosted by 7th Wave and the Maughold Venture Centre at Mooragh Park The event is a team racing for junior sailors from the Island’s RYA Training Centres. A total of five teams were entered representing the Manx Sailing and Cruising Club, Isle of Man Yacht Club, King William’s College, the Venture Centre and 7th Wave, each team consisting of three sailors aged 16 and under.
A total of ten races were sailed to allow each team to race all the other teams during the afternoon. The cumulative points for each team’s finishing places were added up at the end of each race and the team which scored the least points won that round. After all ten races were sailed the team with the most wins would be deemed the overall winner of the event.
A short windward / leeward course was sailed, the wind being sufficiently strong enough for the first four races to be sailed around two laps of the course. Mid-way through the afternoon the course was shortened to one lap in the decreasing breeze.
The first race was a battle between the northerners. Amie Shute and Izzy Sharpe, both recently returned from competing with the Manx Youth Sailing Squad in the UK and now representing the Venture Centre, certainly showed the boys how it was done as they both got away with excellent starts. The MS&CC lads who are newcomers to dinghy racing did not show quite the same finesse on the start line although they did keep Matt Read (Venture Centre) at bay during the first lap until he managed to take four places at the leeward mark giving the Venture Centre 1, 2 and 3 in race 1.
Race two was contested between MS&CC and IOMYC. The IOMYC team consisted of Manx Youth Sailing Champion Ali Hinds, this year’s Pico Challenge winner Jacques Lakeman and recently qualified instructor Laura Green. The experience of the team really showed and they sailed comfortably into 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
Next was the race between the Island’s two commercial training centres the Venture Centre and 7th Wave. Once again Izzy Sharpe was off to a good start for the Venture Centre. The fleet split up the first beat with James and Greg Kelly (7th Wave) and Amie Shute (Venture Centre) heading up the right of the beat while Alex Sharpe (7th Wave), Izzy and Matt Read (Venture Centre) going left as the wind went lighter. A mixed result for the teams with 1, 2 and 4 for defending champions 7th Wave and 3, 5 and 6 for the Venture Centre.
Race three between KWC and IOMYC was very close, it was the only race where everyone finished with 30 seconds of each other. Once again the IOMYC’s experienced sailors dominated scoring 1, 2 and 3 to KWCs 4, 5 and 6.
KWC stayed in the boats for their next heat against the Venture Centre. KWC’s Hannah Howitt was OCS and had to restart.. Amie Shute had another good start for the Venture Centre. KWC captain Tom Howitt led round the windward mark but was overtaken on the last leg giving the Venture Centre the win for this heat.
Race six was between 7th Wave and MS&CC. 7th Wave got off the start line in 1st 2nd and 3rd and held those places throughout the race. Following some coaching between races the MS&CC lads, Theo Leach, Tim Hardisty and Josh Gaines showed considerable improvement for the remainder of their races.
Ali Hinds (IOMYC) was looking good for the start of race 7, but got stuffed during the last few seconds. Alex Sharpe (7th Wave) got off to a good clear start, but Ali fought back and was first by the time they rounded the windward mark. This was the closest race of the day, IOMYC finished just getting the win with 10 points to 7th Wave’s 11 points.
MS& CC and KWC were back on the water for race 8. Manx Youth Sailing Squad members Nick Parkes and Hannah Howitt (KWC) were both off to a good start and tacked to cover the MS&CC lads up the beat. The tactic paid KWC scored 1, 2 and 3 all crossing the line rafted together.
At the start of race 9 IOMYC, 7th Wave and the Venture Centre we all in contention for the overall win. Ali Hinds (IOMYC) was over the line at the start along with Izzy Sharpe (Venture Centre). Amie Shute (Ventre Centre) sailed well up the first beat and arrived at the windward mark first. Izzy had done well to recover from the start and there was a close battle downwind. Amie and Izzy finished in 1st and 2nd scoring the win for the Venture Centre with Laura Green (IOMYC) in 3rd.
And so it was all down to the final race to decide who would be the overall winner, 7th Wave needed to beat KWC in this race to finish ahead of the IOMYC. 7th Wave had another good start with Greg Kelly and Alex Sharpe leading the fleet round the course and finishing is 1st and 2nd to secure the win.
The Venture Centre, 7th Wave and IOMYC each had scored three wins during the series and so it was down to points to decide the winner. It was 7th Wave who had just scraped the overall win with the IOMYC only one point behind. The trophy was presented by Nigel Hendy to 7th Wave team Alex Sharpe, James Kelly and Greg Kelly. Thanks to Simon Read at the Venture Centre for providing the boats. Next year’s Topper Challenge will be held on Sunday 1st November.
1st: 7th Wave 33 points – Alex Sharpe, James Kelly, Greg Kelly
2nd:IOMYC 34 points – Ali Hinds, Laura Green and Jacques Lakeman
3rd: Venture Centre 38 points – Amie Shute, Izzy Sharpe, Matthew Read
4th: KWC 45 points– Tom Howitt, Hannah Howitt, Nick Parkes
5th: MS&CC 60 points– Theo Leach, Tim Hardisty, Josh Gaines