Top Tips for Toppers

Written on 1 June 2015 and updated on 7 April 2017

Top Tips for Toppers

The club has several Toppers for members to use. Although this is an old post below - it does give some useful tips for those starting out. Happy sailing.

Because the mast on a Topper is set back on the boat, the push on the sail is behind the pivot point of the dagger board and the boat screws up into the wind.

This is great if you are learning to sail because the beginner can let everything go and the Topper will happily go head to wind and stop. It’s not so good if you’re racing in a breeze.

How many of you struggle in a breeze because the boat gets stuck in irons? How many of you find yourself pulling hard on the tiller just to sail upwind in a straight line?

In fact it gets worse when we put on lots of kicker (which is something we have to do in a Topper when it’s windy) because that makes the front of the sail less powerful. This is good to de-power the sail but it does give relatively more power to the back of the sail which pushes us even more into the wind. Oh no!!!!!!! Pulling on the downhaul depowers the sail (think of it as the bowstring and your mast as the bow itself) but it does it in a way that depowers the back of your sail and powers up the front. The point of push on the sail goes further forward and the rig is better ‘

In windy conditions, when sailing upwind (downhauls must be right off when sailing downwind) the front of the sail often needs pulling down to the boom.

In a breeze – pull them on until the boat sails in a straight line without using the rudder, lifting the dagger board so that it is level with the foredeck also helps balance the forces in the rig.

Downwind – let them right off (even to the extent of pushing the sail up the mast!).

Mark Jones