Despite not having sailed his Topper for a few months, Sam Cooper from West Lancashire Yacht Club went to Grafham Water and secured seven 1st places, thus becoming the Topper Inlands Champion 2017. 

His mother, Catherine, said officials at the event were astounded by Sam's performance.Sam had changed to the 29er skill class but that class do not schedule any events from Easter until the summer holidays because many young sailors are involved in GCSE's and A Levels. 

At the age of 15 Sam did not have exams and the family were going to Topper events anyway because his sister Charlotte was competing, so mum suggested he sail his Topper in the meantime. 

In early August 2017, Sam went to the Topper World Championships in Cercle Nautique de Loctudy, Brittany. He took second place in a field of 156, a one place improvement on his performance the previous year.

As soon as he came back, Sam went to Pwllheli for the National Championships that are always held on the sea. He won that, with three firsts and a second, to become the National Champion.

During his Topper career, Sam became a member of the RYA Zone Squad and also the RYA National Squad. 

Now he is working his way up the fleet rankings in the 29ers: "I have got loads to learn but it's really good fun," says Sam. "There are two of us now and sailing the 29er is completely different."

Sam is delighted to be RYA NW Youth Champion again because he appreciates how many other good young sailors there are in the North West.

There will be no return to the Toppers this year because Sam has GCSE's at Birkdale High School.

As well as wanting to perform well academically, Sam has sporting ambitions: "I would love to get on the RYA's Olympic pathway, and possibly the Ben Ainslie Racing Academy." 

A previous winner of the NW regional award, Elliot Hanson, has achieved both goals.