Aled Llewellyn-Jones - My 2018 Summer

Fairwell Topper

This Summer I have been competing in my last Topper events and begun transitioning to a 29er along with my sailing partner Ben Willett. The months of July and August were really busy, but it was great fun.

Hello 29er

Early July (6-7) Ben and I attended Open 29er training at WPNSA coached by Jamie Johnson and Toby Atherton. This was a fantastic weekend with great weather, excellent coaching and good learning. We really were starting to feel more comfortable in this new, exciting boat.

The following weekend of July 14/15 I was once again in my topper competing at NS 6 at Derwent, a long 8 hour drive but worth the journey. Once again beautiful weather but a tricky event with light shifty winds. I finished 7th in this event but the result secured me the National Series win. I was so pleased with my hard work over the winter and spring, it had all paid off. I was a very happy but tired sailor travelling home that Sunday night with my Nationwide Series Trophy and Nationwide Series 2017/18 Champion. This was one of the highlights of my summer.

Just 3 days later and I was back training with Ben in our 29er, this time with ‘8 Days a week’ coaching at Pwllheli. This is one of my favourite venues as there is usually plenty of wind and waves. Again an excellent experience thanks to Rowan and Huw Edwards coaching us, with lots learned and fantastic support and tuition - thanks to the coaches.

End of the year with RYA Junior Squad

Next it’s off to the Topper Nationals and the end of my year in RYA Junior Squad. I’ve really enjoyed my year in this squad, we’ve had some really fun times and I’ve met really good friends who will stay with me for years to come - some are joining me in the 29er class so it’ll be easy to stay in touch. I’ve learned lots and lots from head coach Tom Walker, who I respect greatly, along with his able assistant Mary Rook and a number of visiting coaches throughout the winter. Prior to the event we had 2 days of coaching with Tom, a rest day and then into the racing. We had some good and varied conditions with a competitive series of races. I finished the qualification series in second place but with lighter winds and lots of wind shifts I dropped to finish 10th overall. Some excellent sailing by my competitors.

To China…….

Only a few days at home before we left for the Topper World Championship at Longcheer Yacht Club, Shenzhen, China. There was a great atmosphere and loads of excitement at the Opening ceremony. However, the wind gods were not favouring us. No wind for 6 days meant that there was not to be a World championship after all. Just 2 sketchy races with a maximum of 5 knots, ranging 3 - 5 across the course.

Still, it was a great social occasion as most of my mates were there too. Once we embarked on the post championship tour we quickly forgot our disappointment over the poor wind conditions. What a trip - So many sites and sights in just 4 or 5 days. An outstanding experience that I will never forget.

Now my topper days are over and I’m a full time 29er helm. On my return to the UK on 26th August it was straight back into training with Ben, once again excellent coaching from Will Willett at LLangorse. Ben and I will soon be competing at our first 29er event of 2018/19 at GP1 held at WPNSA, and I can’t wait.

Thanks to Neil Pryde for their support. The kit has been well tried and tested - it really is great!

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