The Topper Challenge was held in very windy conditions on the Mooragh Park last Sunday. Five teams competed with entries from the Venture Centre, 7th Wave, Manx Sailing & Cruising Club, Isle of Man Yacht Club and King William’s College. Each team consisted of three members all aged 16 and under, boats and safety boats were provided by the Venture Centre.
For the last three years this event has been sailed in light winds, but this year, as Jon Quillin (7th Wave) commented “we seem to have had four years worth of wind in one competition!” It certainly made for an interesting day particularly for the spectators as competitors bravely battled around the course trying to avoid capsizing in the big gusts. Given the conditions the race organisers insisted that each boat set off with at least two reefs in the sail, although four reefs seemed to be the favourite option.
A total of ten races were sailed which allowed each team to race every other team once. The finishing position of each competitor was recorded and each team’s points were combined. The team with the lowest cumlative points in a race was the winner of that race. The overall winners were the team winning the most races.
There was some excellent sailing during the day, with notable individual performances from Harriet Quayle age 14 (IOMYC), Izzy Sharpe age 13 (KWC), plus Sarah Mercer age 14 (IOMYC) and Ffinlo Wright age 10 (KWC) both of whom struggled in the windy conditions but continued racing with determination.
The team performances showed a big change from previous years. It was the Venture Centre and the MS&CC who were looking favourites for the competition in the early stages. Race 3 between the Venture Centre and MS&CC was the first race in which all the competitors managed to finish, clearly the northerners were more practised in the huge gusts hitting Mooragh Lake. There was some superbly close racing and a couple of finishes where there were only millimetres seperating the boats.
The final race of the day between 7th Wave and the Venture Centre was to be the deciding race. MS&CC had completed all their races with three wins and one loss which meant that if the Venture Centre beat 7th Wave the MS&CC would be the winners of the Topper Challenge Trophy for the first time since the competition began in 1994. 7th Wave were also counting three wins at the start of the final race. James Kelly age 13 (7th Wave) and Alex Sharpe age 16 (7th Wave) sailed a good race with both of them rounding the windward mark in 1st and 2nd and keeping those places to the finish and giving 7th Wave the win for the race and for the overall competition.
Nigel Hendy presented the trophy to 7th Wave’s team Alex Sharpe, James Kelly and Greg Kelly for the third year running.
1st: 7th Wave (Alex Sharpe, James Kelly, Greg Kelly)
2nd: MS&CC (Juan Hendy, Theo Leech, Conor Christian)
3rd: Venture Centre (Amie Shute, Matt Reed, Jack Shields)
4th: IOMYC (Harriet Quayle, Sarah Mercer, Jacques Lakeman)
5th: King William’s College (Izzy Sharpe, Kunal Patel, Ffinlo Wright)