Topper Team Racing, Island Barn Reservoir Sailing Club
The holders, East Area, were determined to defend their title in strength. They sent 4 teams. The South-East Area were equally determined to wrest the trophy from them. They fielded 5 teams, one of which (South East 4) contained two of last years losing finalists, still smarting from their 2003 experience.
Each team had 3 Toppers. The format was a round robin of 36 6-boat races during which each team raced all the others. The top 4 teams would go to the knockout best-of-3 Semi-finals, the winners going to a best-of-3 Final.
The scoring was simple. The team of the last boat to finish loses the race. Of all the team racing scoring systems this gives the best racing as it encourages the leading boats not to finish until they are sure their last boat finishes ahead of the other team's last boat. This gives unbelievably tight skirmishes on the finish line (and requires the Finish Boat Officer to have 6 pairs of eyes).
The round robin threw up few surprises - the most contentious incident being a protest between South-East 5 and East 1 over the right of John Mather (SE5) (overlapped, behind and to leeward of Heather Fox (E1)) to sail Heather past a gybe mark. John was unfortunate to lose the protest as rule 18.4 was unusually in force at this meeting. At most meetings he would have won it. It unfortunately cost South-East 5 a place in the Semi Final.
The first Semi Final was between South-East 4 (Louis McViegh, Ben McViegh and Andy Fielder), who had a perfect Round Robin score sheet, and South East 2 (Nicola Groves, Alex Groves and Piers Parfitt). SE4 took Race 1, but in Race 2, in the tightest of finishes, SE2 took it with all boats overlapped. SE4 were wounded. In Race 3 both teams fought tooth and nail up the final beat, and in another cliff-hanger a relieved SE4 sneaked it by 1 foot on the last 2 boats. The second Semi-Final pitted East 2 (Jake Winter, Hannah Carter and Henry Smith) against South-East 1 (Ben Palmer, Sam Eversfield and Dicken Maclean). SE1 were ruthless and dispatched E2 2-0.
We had an all South-East Final. In Race 1 Louis McViegh and Andy Fielder (SE4) sailed Ben Palmer and Dicken Maclean (SE1) way out past the left side lay line. These tactics backfired as on the down wind return the lighter SE1 guys sailed past SE4 and when Andy Fielder (SE4) capsized a real upset looked in store. But Ben Palmer and Sam Eversfield didn't spot team-mate Dicken Maclean sailing to the wrong mark and that was Race 1 over. In Race 2 SE4 played it safer, relying more on boat-speed, and by the start of the final beat they had SE1 where the wanted them - one SE1 boat 4 lengths back. Sam Eversfield and Ben Palmer tried every trick to hold up the three SE4 guys until Dicken Maclean got back in contention, but SE4 all managed to cross the finish line before he arrived and that was that - final over.
The older SE4 sailors have been near the top of Topper sailing for several years, have learnt all the skills, and tricks, and fully deserved their title of National Team Racing Champions.
1 South East 4 Andy Fielder, Louis McViegh, Ben McViegh
2 South East 1 Sam Eversfield, Dicken Maclean, Ben Palmer
3= East 2 Hannah Carter, Henry Smith, Jake Winter
3= South East 2 Alex Groves, Nicola Groves, Piers Parfitt
5 South East 5 John Mather, Oscar McViegh, Hannah Tattersall
6 East 4 Matt Johnson, Adam Smith, Tom Weatherhead
7 East 1 Yvette Allen, Heather Fox, Grace Twidell
8 East 3 Fiona Allen, Marina Brassington, Alex Carter
9 South East 3 Allison Baldwin, James Cullane, Rachel Houseago