Having waited (im)patiently for a delivery date for my D-Zero I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I could collect my boat from the Grafham demo day on the 26th July. As you can imagine I was excited and keen to get out in the boat ASAP. Turning up at Graham and wandering over to see the guys as they got ready for the demo day I got chatting to a member from Grafham who had not sailed for 2 years due to a foot injury and was a little nervous about taking the boat out. He got over that pretty quickly and soon disappeared out into the lake in the light winds. Then came the time to take ownership of my new boat, one of the ex-demo boats (and the one from the stand at the dinghy show with the rather nice black carbon foils). It has just come back from Devoti having been back to the factory for refurbishment prior to me taking ownership. I just wanted to unpack it all there and then and go for a sail. Sadly time did not permit this as my good lady wife was expecting me home. I did have a full day sailing pass for the Sunday though.
Sunday dawned. The gods according to Windguru gave the wind as being light to moderate in the morning and dropping off a little through the day, how wrong they were!
The first race was hardly representative as the wind was up and down and from random directions. After a reasonable start and rounding the windward mark in 2nd behind a Fireball the wind proceeded to shut down and shift randomly. Position in the race depended more on luck than anything else. Still the boat felt good in the puffs of wind and definitely showed potential. Despite the wind I managed to squeeze out a 3rd in the Fast Handicap fleet being beaten by 2 Lasers and came off the water with a big grin on my face.
For race 2 the fleets change. Lasers and Solos went off in to their fleets and there is 1 handicap start so this time the line was much busier with boats ranging from an X1 right through to several British Moths, Comets and a few Optimists. The wind had increased a little from the morning race and had steadied but I decided that being over the line was the place to be so went back to restart losing about a minute and a half and getting to the windward mark almost dead last. As the wind was steadier and I was getting a better feel for the boat and what was likely to make it go and not go I made good progress through the fleet ending up 3rd on the water by the finish. Once the spreadsheet had done it’s work it came out I was 5th behind 3 British Moths and the Comet. Not a bad result given I had gone back at the start. I did get a much better feel for the boat and was starting to work out the transitions between points of sail much better and working out where to sit. It was surprising how much further back you can sit when going upwind without causing the stern wake to become all messed up indicating excessive drag.
For the final race of the day the wind has picked up a little more and planing was possible in the gusts. The boat was really starting to come alive and the grin on my face was definitely evident. The boat responded well to being worked upwind with trimming the order of the day to keep the boat flat and moving fast. I had a great battle with a Fireball that lasted for most of the race. Offwind they were (usually) faster but upwind I found I could make some really big gains by outpointing them and having similar boat speed (yes I was surprised, Fireballs usually fly upwind). We did have a little chat as we went round, they were commenting on just how ‘right’ the boat looks on the water and eyebrows were raised when they found out I was sailing off 1044 PY. The boat felt really good for the entire race. My only real mistake was not moving back during a couple of the mark rounding in the puffs where the nose had a tendency to bury. It popped back up readily enough once I moved back though, one thing to make a note of. I finished second on the water behind the X1 but ahead of a Fireball and won on the spreadsheet. I am wondering how long they will let me keep 1044 (although 1 day of racing was hardly representative).
Needless to say there was a lot of interest and several people wanting to have a go, some just to see if it goes as good as it looks and other with a possible interest in buying one.
So the first outing was a resounding thumbs up from me, I have not enjoyed my sailing that much in a very long time and cannot wait to get out in on the water again. I was not even that annoyed about having to go back in Race 2 for being over the line!