Adventures With A Topper
Bill Milstead

Autumn 1999

Barry Jones suggested to me that if I got a tow bar fitted to the car, I could take his Skipper down to Bewl for the August Bank Holiday meeting there. (You don't know what you start sometimes, Barry!)

So I duly sent away to 'Towsure' and got the bits and pieces required. Amazingly, after a bit of ham-fisted fiddling about under the car in Richard Thornhill's driveway, we were all set. (By the way, thanks for the barbecue, Richard!)

Eventually, it was decided that we should take the Club Topper down instead of the Skipper. So, on the day before, I met Barry down at the club in order to put the Topper on his road trailer. The trailer usually takes either the Skipper or the Gull, so a few modifications were involved using bits of wood, some string and a couple of bits of old carpet. As I had never towed anything before, this was quite an eye-opener for me. Barry was most put out when I used the expression, "a real Heath Robinson affair". I can't imagine why!

The trip down to Bewl was uneventful and Mark took the Topper out on the lake. Meanwhile Mum went out with Barry on his Cat and Dad was given some rudimentary training in the use of the spinnaker by Richard Cannon for the Signet Trophy the next day. Obviously, Richard was a bit desperate for crew! There was very little wind and so Mum also took a brief turn in the Topper - the first time she had taken a boat out on her own. Just at the end of the day Mark managed to drift too close to the shore where he stuck in the mud and had to be towed back by the Rescue Boat.

1 Commodore's Bit
2 Annual Dinner
3 Working Party
4 Sunbury Regatta
5 Signet Championships
6 Topper Adventures
7 Solent '99
8 Solent 99 page 2
9 Children’s Activity Day
10 Bewl Visit
11 Sailing Report
12 Eclipse Cruise
13 Hampton Riverside
14 Hampton Riverside p 2
15 Cundy Race
16 The Internet
17 Raffle Donations
17 The Club Geny Missing
17 Hail & Farewell
18 AGM & Prize Giving
19 Dates For Your Diary

On Sunday, Mark entered the Regatta and gamely completed the first race, while Dad was slowing Richard down in the Signet. In the second race, Mark crewed for Richard. This allowed Mum the opportunity to go out again in the Topper, with a little bit of advice from the crew of the Rescue Boat. Quite what they told her is a mystery as they managed to get her out into the middle of the course for the race, just as it was about to start! Here, she duly had her first ever capsize! Dad was fortunate enough to be standing on the jetty with the OOD and was allowed to watch it all through his binoculars!

We played the nautical version of musical chairs again on Monday. This time Mark started off with Richard in the Signet and Rodger Wheeler took the helm of the Topper for the first race, getting some funny looks from the lady in the Committee boat, as Mark is thirteen and doesn't have a beard!

The rest of the Regatta passed fairly uneventfully, as Mark just cruised around in the Topper rather than raced and Mum crewed for Richard all afternoon. The fun began again when time came to pack up, as everybody thought somebody else had stored Barry's ratchet straps away, with the end result that nobody had. Fortunately, they hadn't been moved very far and we eventually located them stored inside an old tyre next to where they had been left on Saturday morning.

The trip back wasn't quite so uneventful as the trailer board came loose on the A21. Luckily, only the fog light was damaged and we were able to drive back in the dark safely.

All-in-all, we had a good weekend, although the Topper would probably go even better on a roof
rack. But, be careful what Barry Jones suggests to you. You don't know where it might lead!