Topper Sailing - frequently asked questions
Q: Is Topper a good boat - who can sail it?
A: Topper is great little boat for just fun or probably the best boat to start racing and move up the RYA pathway. Easy to maintain and rig, it can be sailed by anyone from about age 9 upwards including adults. The main age range for top level racing is 13 - 15 years.
Q: How much do they cost?
A: Anything from a couple of hundred pounds to £2000+ for new race rigged boat. A good competitive older second hand boat to start racing should be apx £1000. A new race sail is £195 and all boats can be upgraded.
Q: Do I need a brand new boat?
A: To start sailing and racing then I say No, see above.
However, as you move up the fleet I think there are advantages with newer boats (lighter/stiffer) and the way they are rigged and being improved all the time. The boats hold their value very well on the second hand market so it easy to change later.
Q: Do I need loads of spares and sails?
A: Again the answer to begin with is No. As you progress, then build up a selection of spares - you will soon find out what is needed ! and it becomes useful to have a training and newer Race sail.
Q: How do I learn to race?
A: After the RYA level 1-4 courses there is the on-board scheme and the excellent Topper Academy at AWSC. Then progress to the local Open meeting scene and the ITCA Area training days / squads. Next stage is the RYA Zone and National Squads. All information is available from AWSC or ITCA.
Q: How much racing is available and where?
A: Spring through Summer there is racing about every other weekend (if not more) in the region and then there are National events around the country. The main venues for National events are Rutland Water, Grafham, Weymouth, and other large Welsh, Scottish, South Coast and Northern UK venues. Training takes place during the winter months as well as a Winter Regatta.
Q: How much does racing cost?
A: Entry fees for one day local events are usually c £10, 2 days national events c £30 , the National Champs week c £140
Q: How can I improve my boat?
A: An excellent source of upgrades and tips is www.sailing-solutions.co.uk , or ask one the AWSC Toppers
Q: I don't think I will ever be as good as the guys or girls up the front?
A: I think everyone has these thoughts at first, they may be a leg or a lap ahead in race ! With practice, training, and time and experience, pretty much anyone will improve and be in with a chance of being at the front if that is what they want! It takes hard work and dedication to reach the front - maybe read Ben Ainslee's book.
A few random tips
- join the class association (ITCA) and RYA
- book accommodation for events early - get to know Travelodge and premier Inns for budget/easy accommodation
- volunteer to help , the events / class are run mainly by volunteers
- ensure the children sailing have proper clothing
- ensure the children eat and drink on the water and before / after
- boat preparation is important - get your child involved. The boat tweaks and upgrades really do work
- there is no substitute for time on the water to improve sailing skills
- improvement in sailing skills and results takes time, everyone has to start and experience gives results. It happens at different times for different children - always encourage, with hard work they can all achieve!!
- don't worry about capsizing / being rescued , it is all part of learning to sail and race
- MAKE SURE THEY(AND YOU) HAVE FUN AND ENJOY IT !
Where can I get more information?
or just see any of the Topper guys at AWSC
AWSC member and father of Freddie Chiddicks