Fleets > Toppers
The Topper and laser fleets train on a Sunday morning from 1 May to the end of October with the aim of improving so as to earn a place on the RYANI Topper Junior squad
Email contact Nora Whittaker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Successful sailors getting onto the NI squad can expect:
Squad training takes place in clubs around the greater Belfast/East Down area and is usually for 6 weekends over the winter/spring. There can also be additional ITCAIRL training at clubs both north and south.
History of Class
Teaching young people to sail at LEYC goes back to the 1950s, when GM Irvine donated four new Cadet dinghies to start a training fleet. Many of today’s older LEYC sailors began in Cadets. Raymond Morrison and Peter Scott are among many taught to sail at Enniskillen schools, an ancient tradition back to John Beavor Webb, a Portora schoolboy who went on to be the first and only Irishman to helm (and design) an America’s Cup challenger. Early school sailing also set the traditional date for today’s LEYC Regatta. About 40 years ago, the Committee moved it to the third weekend in June, to suit sailors still at school, after exams yet before family holiday travel
Early training also used Lake class dinghies, home-made from surplus plywood crates from an Enniskillen factory. In the 1980s we used jaunty Mirror dinghies, two crew and full three sail rig. Michael Norris’ grandfather, John Switzer,, was one of many who did good work over the years. The Switzer Cup, donated in his memory, was LEYC Youth Trophy for years until mislaid in the late 1990s.
Two of many examples of sailing career success from LEYC youth sailing are Chris Scott, ex-Mirror, the key foredeck hand when Strathclyde University won the World Student Keelboat Championship and Cara Golden, ex-J/24, who did all but one leg of the Clipper 2000 round the world race. Many others just enjoyed happy years of Erne sailing.
In recent years, with members money some bequests and grants, we bought 15 tough wee Topper dinghies with one sail for children’s learning, though some regret lack of team skills handling a three sail rig. On Saturdays, Topper capsize drill is as popular as in Cadets a half century ago. All a joy to see in yet another generation of LEYC sailors.
© Michael Clarke, Historian LEYC, Ireland’s oldest yacht racing club
Click here to view fleet photographs