Two keen dinghy sailors have spotted a gap in the dinghy event calendar and have combined resources to launch a national championship for clubs

Have you ever wondered which clubs really are the best in the country? Before now, it has never been possible to compare clubs in fleet racing, as a team, on a national level – so it has never been possible to truly gauge the strongest clubs in the country. Two keen dinghy sailors, who have spotted this gap in the dinghy event calendar, have combined resources to launch a national championship for clubs, called Top Club UK.

The inaugural Top Club will take place at Grafham Water SC on 18-19 September 2004 and all RYA affiliated clubs are eligible to enter. Each club will put forward a team of three boats, with one boat from each PN grouping – fast, medium and slow. Dinghies with a PN number (not class supplied) between 800 and 1450 are eligible, but not catamarans or keelboats. Racing will be held on three different courses, one for each PN group and the results from each group will be combined to give each team their total points; the winning club being that with the lowest point score overall.

Top Club UK is the brainchild of Emma Harris, former Lark national champion and a major driving force behind the Lark revival, and Pete Vincent, well known RS sailor and administrator. HArris explained: “At open meetings we all sail under our club burgee and many of us are proud to represent that club. At the moment, there is no competition where all clubs can compete on a level playing field to find out which are the strongest clubs. Team racing is too specialist, so our idea is to run fleet racing – which is what the majority of club sailors are used to. Vincent added: “We want to have an event that will attract good sailors but also tests the overall strength of a club, not just how many good sailors they have in one class.”

Top Club hopes to help fertilize the grass roots of sailing. Emma and Pete recognise that, to keep sailing as a national sport healthy and growing, it’s the club scene that’s most important. Reflecting this emphasis, Top Club prizes will focus on benefiting the club rather than the individual sailor.

Grafham Water SC was chosen to host the event as it is central with a large, good quality sailing water, excellent facilities and, most importantly, has shown that, when running multi courses at such events as the RS inlands, it has a very high standard of race management.

Numbers will be restricted to the first 80 clubs that enter. You can find out more and register your club’s interest by visiting the Top Club website at or by contacting Pete Vincent on 01934 733045/07813 899043 ( or Emma Harris on 07989 393916 (