Girl racing a Topper at Lake Garda
The low-cost route to fun sailing

Whether just having fun off the beach, learning to sail, or competitive racing, there are so many reasons for choosing the fantastic Topper! It requires little maintenance, is easily rigged in minutes, rugged and safe for beginners plus an exciting race boat as your skills develop and it is car-toppable too! You don't need to spend a fortune and the great durability of the Topper means that older boats can readily be updated with a new sail and by replacing any worn fittings.

Early Toppers featured a transom sheeting system which can easily be upgraded to the latest centre sheeting system and the addition of a 6:1 downhaul  makes controlling and de-powering the sail easy for all. Read our used Topper buying guide below or learn how to ‘reactivate’ a faded old boat to bring it back to life.

Inside the hull of an old Topper

The Topper is one of the most popular second hand buys in the dinghy market. Race quality boats are sought after items. If you buy at the right price you will usually be able to sell your Topper for a similar amount in a couple of year’s time, or pass it onto a sibling when you upgrade to a new race boat.

To find details of Toppers for sale in your region, you could try:

  • National used boatsales websites
  • The Facebook group for the National Topper Class Association of your region.
  • Sailing club notice-boards

Word of mouth is a valuable route to finding a good used boat, or try your local Topper dealer.

Sail control up-dates on a used blue decked Topper
Used Topper buying guide

 

The Topper dinghy is one of the simplest performance dinghies available and there is not much that can go wrong – it is tough and durable whatever you do it!

If you plan to race the boat, you need to check that the hull that has not become distorted: it should have been stored correctly with the deck facing down or on the gunwale. The control systems have been updated over the years, so even if your potential purchase doesn't have the latest gear, it is a good opportunity to upgrade to the latest sail control systems for the outhaul, downhaul and vang to make sailing the boat easier and more enjoyable. (See image left)

Test the hull for any leaks - an air tight hull should hiss when you remove the bung after sailing. The bung should always be removd ashore to prevent the hull distorting with tempertaure changes. Beware in very hot conditions, when a boat sitting in the sun and then being launched can suck in water as the hull is suddenly cooled. The trick is not to tighened the bung until the boat is launched and the hull contracted by the cold water.

Check the mast foot cup - if it has worn through the mast can wear through the deck moulding. A new mast foot cup was introduced in 2019 and is available to retro fit from Topper International.

Inspect the condition of the transom plate, the captive nut on the inside plate can become detached preventing the bolts being tightened. If this comes adrift it is quite difficult to get at the bolts inside, as hatches are not allowed under Class Rules.

Scratching of the Topper hull can occur. Deep scratches can be removed with ‘wet and dry’ glass paper. More minor damage can be rectified by cleaning with a bathroom cleaner and a plastic scouring pad.

The decks do fade with time and some colours are more prone to this than others. Yellow is probably the worst. Old grey boats can become ‘chalky’. It is possible to reactivate the surface of the plastic by heating with a hot air gun to restore the original colouring. This will cure all but the worst fading but requires great care! Watch the video of how to bring back the colour and finish on an old Topper hull and replace any worn fittings. Purple and dark pink decks show white ‘bruises’ when impacted and some of these will also come out with careful use of heat, as will any deformation of the hull resulting from poor storage.

Most problems can be resolved in a straight forward manner – even welding the hull and deck is no problem for an experienced boatyard, so contact your local Topper dealer.

Pupils at City Academy reactavate an old Topper hull

All cordage, cleats and blocks should be carefully inspected for wear and friction and replaced as required. The rivets on the mast and boom are stainless steel or monel, check if any are loose and if necessary replace them.

If there is water is in the buoyancy compartment check the following:
Self Bailer - This is best removed and re-bedded with Silaflex or silicon sealant. There is a gasket between the deck and the hull that can also be replaced with Sikaflex.
Transom Plate - check the plate is tight against the transom
Mast Cup - check there is no wear through the deck.
Bung – This should seal but may need replacing.
Seal - The top plate case seal can become weak. Sikaflex and the use of negative pressure in the hull using a vacuum cleaner will cure this. It is rarely the hull/deck seal that leaks. A check with positive pressure and washing up liquid smeared around the join will show any leaks that are missed, as soap bubbles soon appear.

Reactivating an old Topper can be a great project to help youngsters get sailing, as well as teaching them useful skills. As well as providing practical skills, it teaches valuable academic lessons relevant to many STEM subjects.

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