Toppers, Stick Daring and a fire engine at Weir Wood

It wouldn’t be fair to blame Stick Daring for the fire engine but he was there when the fire engine arrived…..

This weekend Weir Wood was delighted to host the Topper London and South East Squad for winter coaching. After a week of storms it was almost with relief that we saw cold and sunny weather which set off the lake to perfection. OK a little more wind might have been nice but, given the huge static high pressure system prevailing, we were pleased to have any at all. With Paul Wren, the regional RYA High Performance Manager, in attendance, 21 young sailors from across the region were split into groups by their 3 coaches. Initial sessions of physical exercise and theory were followed by the programme afloat as the cold air lifted from the Medway Valley and allowed a gentle wind to establish.

The youngsters packed up for the day while parents enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the lake and the clubhouse was prepared for an evening with Stick Daring. Over 60 members attended a sit down meal provided by Wyche’s Kitchen followed by Stick recounting his epic journey the wrong way round the UK in a Laser. Stick (known to most of us as Neil Peters) is a former member of Weir Wood and is still a regular visitor and friend to many through the club’s strong Laser fleet. Neil (before he became celebrated as Stick) was also well known for the various scrapes he has got into over the years so we were all truly impressed by his achievements in successfully completing such a challenging trip. Judging by the number of cars still in the car park in the morning, which included Stick’s van, a good night was had by all!

Sunday dawned bright and sunny again but with only a very light and patchy wind. Sailors and Topper parents stayed in the clubhouse to enjoy breakfast from the galley while club racing went ahead. The one slight gust of wind was enough to blow smoke from the galley onto the smoke detector triggering the fire alarm. The alarm was quickly reset and we didn’t think anything more about it but a few minutes later the OOD received a radio call from the Committee Boat asking why there were blue flashing lights in the car park as Forest Row’s finest arrived. At least this gave some of the youngsters a chance to sit in the fire engine while the club’s officers apologised to the volunteer fire crew for getting them up on a Sunday morning.

Due to the light winds session for the Toppers were rearranged to concentrate the theory sessions in the morning. After an early lunch a decent northerly wind filled in allowing the fleet afloat for a few of hours of trigger pools and starting exercises concluded with several short races. Finally, cold fingers were then revived by hot chocolate and cakes while parent packed the boats for the journey home.