Teenage sailor Fin is on Topper the world

Topper sailor Fin Swanton
Topper sailor Fin Swanton

Young Fin Swanton is on Topper the world.

Following successful selection into both Topper 4.2 national squad and the south-east zone squad, the 14-year-old has spent the past nine months travelling around the UK attending demanding training sessions and various national series events.

A decision to make a step up from the smaller 4.2 sail, traditionally used for lighter sailors, and use the full 5.3 rig tested Swanton, especially as that was the much larger fleet of the two.

The Felpham Sailing Club member was recently at the Topper world championships in Ballyholme, Northern Ireland.

The event featured sailors from 11 different countries including China, South Africa, Japan and Australia. With more than 200 boats entered and five days of racing it was tremendously competitive.

A decision to make a step up from the smaller 4.2 sail, traditionally used for lighter sailors, and use the full 5.3 rig tested Swanton, especially as that was the much larger fleet of the two.

It was a fantastic week and frustrating wind conditions gave him invaluable practice for a gruelling six-day event in North Berwick.

Light and shifty winds and extreme fog saw him miss the gold fleet qualification by three places.

Abdandoned races prevailed despite more than six hours on the water non-stop each day.

Conditions on the final day were a constant 20 knots gusting 25. Swanton, weighing 42kg, was up against it.

But against experienced sailors in the 5.3 fleet weighing 70+kg, he had an absolutely awesome week, finishing 20th place in silver fleet.

The cost of participating in these events is phenomenal and starting to be almost prohibitive. His attendance at the worlds was made possible in part by a grant from the John Merricks Sailing Trust, for which he and his family are grateful.

They would love to hear from any business who might be interested in sponsorship opportunities in exchange for marketing opportunities on sails, vehicles and kit. Email Topperfin@gmail.com

CHICHESTER

Chichester Yacht Club’s Up the Creek race involves the challenge of getting round a mark at the top of all the creeks in Chichester Harbour.

This is an exciting race and the weather was perfect. The sun shone, there was a good tide and a lovely breeze.

Nine intrepid crews set off on a rising tide.

The Colbournes set off in their GP14 fetching up the Itchenor reach and cutting the corner at the bottom of the Bosham channel.

At Quay mark,Tony Purser (RS600) hit the mark and capsized trying to do his turns.

A long beat up to East Head mark followed. Some boats left the Thorney channel preferring to go up this on the way back.

A fetch across to find the elusive SW Pilsey mark followed, where the sailors were pleased to see David Culver and Stephen Green anchored in a safety rib counting the boats out and back.

The Colbournes passed Ian Payne in his Laser and Helen and Mark Green in their 2000 on their way back.

There was a long fetch back to Freddie Brookes mark. The Colbournes found a wrong mark at one stage but eventually found the right one.

Finally there was a spinnaker run back to Chichester YC allowing a good speed against the tide. The GP14 finished with the 2000 of Team Green - quite a nice way to finish after more than four hours and about 25 miles.

Nick and Biddy Colbourne were first, Payne second, Phil Allen (International Canoe) third.

Purser (RS600) was only a couple of minutes behind despite his capsize. The Greens were fifth and Ian Farr in another 2000 finished sixth.

It was a great day but tiring. Thanks go to Nigel Cowan for being an efficient race officer.

DELL QUAY

The fleet may have been small, but there was some impressive skill shown by young sailors competing in the fourth round of the West Sussex Schools and Youth Sailing Association Topper Traveller series at Dell Quay SC.

Star moment was when overall winner Samuel Brackley (Felpham SC) crossed the whole fleet with a port-tack start in the second race, and went on to lead all the way round for his second win of the day.

But he didn’t manage a clean sweep. Though he started well again in the final race and took the lead, he was closely challenged by clubmate Alfie Lester. And as the two boats tacked for the line on the final beat, Alfie judged the timing better and took the gun by a few seconds.

Third place overall went to Francesca Blondell (Arun Youth Activities Centre), but only on tie-break from Sam Atherton (Felpham SC). Francesca’s second place in race two gave her the advantage.

A steadily-increasing south-westerly wind gave the youngsters great racing, with a windward/leeward course set from the committee boat by race officer Chris West. They coped admirably, with only a couple of capsizes. Series contenders who weren’t able to be there missed a fine event.

Twenty Scows from three Harbour sailing clubs - Bosham, Dell Quay and West Wittering - gathered for a rally off Itchenor, stopping for a picnic after exhilarating sailing in sunshine and a brisk breeze.

All the participants at some stage faced rough wind against tide conditions, but the Scows plugged sturdily through the waves even though their crews were drenched by the end of the day.

There was a good turnout for race five of Dell Quay SC’s Longmore series in a steady force-three wind.

At the end of the first lap, Richard Ede (Solo) had just overtaken David Maltby (Solo), but Maltby took the west side going back towards Longmore, while Ede took the east side. This was the wrong choice by Ede as Maltby rounded Westlands and Longmore marks ahead of Ede.

Maltby held on to the advantage until the finish leaving Ede to take second place with Gideon and Gilly Ewers (RS 400) third on handicap. Maltby leads the series.

Two boats started the final two races (nine and ten) of the Early Trophy handicap series with a chance of winning the trophy.

Andrew Buchanan’s Finn required two good results while the RS 400 of Rob Corfield and Chris Campbell needed a top-three place to secure the series.

On the water Corfield and Campbell made the most of the good reaching conditions to lead both races, followed by the other two fast boats, comprising Buchanan’s Finn and the RS 400 of Chris Rowsell and Jason Mortimer (RS400) who retired from race nine with equipment problems.

The results for race nine, after handicap adjustments, were Buchanan first, Chris West (Laser) second and Sue Manning (Laser Radial) third.

Manning took first place in race ten followed by Simon Bell (RS Aero 5) and Corfield and Campbell third. Corfield wins the series and the Jack Lewis Trophy, with Buchan second and Manning third.

Races nine and ten of the Early Trophy Solo series ran alongside the Handicap races with staggered starts. Roger Puttock wins the series and the Single Handed Trophy, with David Maltby second and John Purdy third.

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