The D-Zero class held their 2019 UK National and Open Championships at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy on the long weekend of 21st to 23rd June 2019. This was a milestone event for that class as we celebrated not only our 5th anniversary but we also had the largest ever entry of 46, getting tantalisingly close to the coveted ’50’ club. Unfortunately a few had to withdraw due to injury meaning 43 boats took to the water over the weekend. With an enthusiastic Class Association, a lot of new faces and boat sales increasing the only way is up!
Most of the entrants had arrived on Thursday a few people went out to sample the waters of the harbour and there was an impromptu social organised at The Boat that Rocks just a short walk up from the academy. A great evening was had by all and the banter started (this was set to be a theme over the entire weekend).
The class was also looking to go green and reduce the use of single use plastics, especially drinks bottles. To help with this My Pinnacle Nutrition, a sports nutrition company part owned by a member of the fleet, stepped up and sponsored a bio-plastic based drinks bottle for every competitor. Thank you to them for stepping in and supporting the class in this initiative.
2018 National Champion Steve Bolland (GBR11) takes up the story:
43 competitors, 8 races, 3 days of racing, 1 winner. 1 very clear winner.
‘It’s like going on holiday with 42 of your best mates’. Perfect weather, for 2 of the 3 days at least, and all wonderfully hosted by the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy from 21-23 June made for a wonderful event atmosphere.
Day 1 and the conditions were absolutely perfect – cloudless skies and 18-20 knots from the SW. If there’s one reason for going to Weymouth it’s for the waves out in the Bay and we had those in abundance. There were only two dangers to the almost unlimited enjoyment opportunities on offer, a race officer keen on brandishing flag U and the large number of jellyfish lurking just below the surface that could ruin your whole day if you hit one at speed. I imagine the jellyfish weren’t enthralled either.
The most high-profile transgressor of flag U in race 1 was pre-tournament favourite Dan Holman (Netley SC). He did, however, redeem himself with two bullets in the next two races, using his downwind pace to maximum effect. But there was no redemption for Gavin Fleming (Hunts SC). UFDd in race 2 he went on to capsize in front of the majority of the fleet at the first windward mark in race 3. I stand corrected, there were three dangers to the almost unlimited enjoyment opportunities.
At the end of day 1 and three super enjoyable races the overall leader was Niel Ritchie, making the epic journey down from Aberdeen & Stonehaven worthwhile, with a 1, 2, 3 scoreline, a little way ahead of Tom Southwell (Netley) and Ian Horlock (Exe). However, all this was forgotten as the fleet decamped en masse to the Cove Inn and subsequently the curry house. And back to the Cove again if you happened to be sharing a table with Christian Smart, gang leader of the Welsh contingent.
Conditions had moderated somewhat for day 2, the wind having swung to the SE and dropped to 11-12 knots, but still with a backdrop of wall-to-wall sunshine. Although Steve Bolland (Bristol Corinthian) briefly led Holman in race 3 it was an exclusive Holman benefit after this as he posted three more race wins. By this time the fleet had concluded that he was quite useful and it was looking increasingly likely that the mortals in the fleet would be fighting for the minor placings. To whit, Bolland celebrated his two 2nd places as races wins as he moved into 2nd place overall ahead of a gaggle of boats separated by only 3 points – Iain Horlock, Stacey Bray (Porthpean), Ritchie and Southwell. All to play for on the final day…
Which dawned bright and breezy if you’d managed to sidestep Smart’s offer of a taxi ride to the bright lights of Weymouth following the BBQ, AGM and general frivolity of the previous evening.
Despite the wind dropping, going left, dropping some more, then going right it didn’t prevent Holman wrapping up the regatta with another two race wins, this time inside Portland Harbour. But not before David Valentine (Emsworth Slipper) had surprised the fleet as much as himself, by leading to the windward mark in the penultimate race. Holman was soon past though, aided by Valentine looking around to ensure his moment of fame had been captured by the video boat. Also going well in the lighter winds were Tim Weeden (Emsworth Slipper) in race 7 and Christian Smart (Pembrokeshire YC) in race 8, showing excellent recovery skills from the previous night’s entertainment. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was it for another year. Sponsored by Harken, the 5th anniversary D-Zero Nationals included the largest fleet ever assembled in the short history of the class. Dan Holman was the clear winner with Steve Bolland and Iain Horlock completing the podium. Next year we’re in Largs and we’ll all need to learn how to sail downwind if we’re going to challenge Dan.
In addition to the on the water action the class organised beach clean on Chesil Beach just over the road from the centre. This was supported by Surfers Against Sewage and the Dorset initiative Litter Free Coast and Sea. The pickers collected an impressive amount of waste which was duly disposed of by Dorset Waste Partnership. As a thank you to all who took park the UK D-Zero dealer, dzero.co.uk, bought everyone a drink upon our return to the centre.
At prize giving thanks were extended to the Race Officer, his team and all the staff at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy who ran a superb event with results posted by the time we came ashore along with the event sponsors Harken and Devoti Sailing. Sally Reynoldson from WPNSA thanked the class for choosing them as our host venue. The class is keen to return and plans have been pencilled in for the 10 year anniversary event already. Dan was crowned D-Zero National Champion for the second time having taken the inaugural Championship back in 2015 with Steve Bolland taking second and Iain Horlock coming 3rd. Liz Potter was the first lady and the other lady in the fleet, Emily Britton took home the youth prize as well as the coveted Lanterne Rouge. Richard Le Mare and Mike Corney were crowned Best Buddies (an ironic prize as it turned out they had not realised they were buddies). 2 special prizes were awarded to those D-Zero sailors who did something inexplicably silly over the weekend. The first went to Gavin Fleming for his superb capsize in race 3 making the windward mark much larger than it should have been. The second to Paul Murphy who thought the change of course signal in Race 7 was the end of the race so stopped, relaxed and had a drink before realising that everyone else was still going.
Steve also announced the results of a D-Zero fantasy league. With most people choosing Dan after his UFD in race one it was which 2 other sailors would make the difference. Gary Tompkins got it right and was a clear winner and took home the cash pot.
Full results can be found by clicking here and we know the class are eagerly awaiting the next blog from Zippy Zero (also known as Slippy Zippy).