Fourth Day of Racing and Start of Finals Stage for 5.3 Fleet at Rooster International Topper World Championships.

Despite some typical raining and foggy Northern Irish weather today, the boats were out on the waters of Belfast Lough for a very important day for the 5.3 Fleet.

Following three days of the qualification stage the competitors in the 5.3 class were today sorted by their results into Gold, Silver and Bronze Fleets. This allows the sailors to begin racing alongside other competitors of a similar ability. And for those who qualified  for Gold Fleet it means they can begin to battle it out for the top trophies.

Both Fleets got a race in today. In the 4.2 class, after today's race, remaining in first is Max Yuang-Ngam, his teammate from Thailand Paton Mervielde has moved up into third and Rabbit Su from China has remained in second.

In the 5.3 class leading Gold fleet are three Irish sailors, Jack Fahy in first, Michael Carroll in second and Sophie Crosbie in third.

Jack Fahy, Ireland, leader in the 5.3 Fleet at day 4 of the Topper Worlds

After the racing was finished I spoke to Margot Dejeux a French sailor in the 5.3 fleet;

She said "This is one of the biggest competitions I have ever been to" and that Northern Ireland is a "good place to hold the competition, but it is much colder than France" her home country.She said she "preferred the windy days" so it was frustrating when she had to be called back in due to the lack of wind.  She was very keen to get back out on the water as soon as possible.

The masters event was also held today, a more relaxed race amid an otherwise very serious world championships. The masters race gives the competitors an opportunity to watch, as parents and coaches take to the water to show their worth.  The race always provides much amusement for those watching from the shore.

The competition was very happy to welcome, among many other international teams, representatives from South Africa to the event this year.

Competing from South Africa is Shadley Thomas, from the Garden Route Sailing Academy in Mossel Bay. The Academy runs a development program for High School students from disadvantaged backgrounds and challenging home environments. This programme provides training twice a week along with transport to training, a warm meal, a hot shower and help with homework.  The instructor at the Academy was glad to report that sailing has given Shadley something to focus on that he really enjoys and is good at. The sport has also given him confidence and taught him to work with others. His personal development thanks to his involvement in the sport is something the ITCA is very pleased to hear about.

Shadley is delighted to be given the opportunity to travel to Northern Ireland to compete in the Rooster International Topper Class World Championships.

We would also like to thank Mark Mackey who is Commodore of Balyholme Yacht Club and owner of one of our Sponsors, Mackey Opticians, for providing Shadley with an eye test as soon as he arrived.

The sole Australian entrant is Susan Hextell from Toukley Sailing Club in New South Wales.  Susan has been sailing dinghies since her teens and was awarded the Sarah Blanck Perpetual Trophy in 2014 - an award based on enthusiasm, individuality, learning and persistance of women in sailing.

Susan arrived in Ireland a month before competition and volunteered at the Topper Irish National Championships in Royal Cork Yacht Club in early July.  She has toured the island and arrived in Northern Ireland a week before the event, so she could acclimatise herself to sailing in the Northern Irish conditions.

Finn Purdy

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