Andy Wyatt, ITCA London and South East representative, writes:
This year has been hard on the Topper class which has had squads, traveller series and a Worlds in Garda cancelled. It has also led to many sailors transitioning out of the class earlier than normal.
However once the restrictions were relaxed three clubs went out of their way (within the rules) to get sailing restarted, encouraged Topper sailors with extra unplanned activities and were the only member run clubs in London and the South East that ran a Topper Open in the Autumn.
To recognise what Island Barn, Papercourt and Shoreham have done for the Topper class this year and into the New Year ITCA has presented a plaque for each club inscribed: “On behalf of our Topper Sailors, thank you for your support in unprecedented times 2020-21”
Sophie Mackley, Commodore at Shoreham, takes up the story…..
After we left lockdown (the first one) we followed the RYA’s guidance to get sailing under way for club members. Gareth Griffiths, whose son Rhys is a member of the regional RYA Topper group, approached the committee about whether we would be willing to support additional Topper activity, and the committee agreed that subject to them all joining the club we would welcome this - our junior memberships are affordable, and the group embraced the opportunity. Over the summer they organised themselves to deliver training days with parents manning the safety boats and we scheduled an open meeting for the autumn. Our racing numbers were bolstered by the inclusion of the Toppers and other juniors, and it was great to see all the activity on top of what we already offered through our own junior racing and development sessions.
The benefit to our club was not only seen in our participation numbers, but with the Topper youngsters competing under the Shoreham SC banner (when it became possible to run events), our profile was raised within a fleet who may not have been aware of our existence - we had an excellent reputation and profile amongst more experienced sailors, but not in the juniors.
It was rewarding to see the wonderful results that were achieved and we hope that in some part the sea sailing experience gained while sailing from Shoreham helped develop their already excellent inland sailing skills.
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