The 2022 D-Zero Nationals at Brixham Yacht Club, kindly supported by Barracuda Bay beachwear, kicked off on Thursday evening with everyone searching for a forecast they liked but one thing was for sure, it was going to blow!
Several early-birds got there in plenty of time, and some sailors were out Wednesday & Thursday practicing in the bay, with the hope of getting ahead of the pack, though winds were light and very few waves. Others sampled the local foods and refreshments.
Racing started on Friday with the long run out from the shelter of the harbour into the full force of the wind and building waves. The brave and foolhardy made it to the racecourse with gusts into the mid 30knts pushing the limits on the gybes. The leading pack was quickly established, lead convincingly by supremo Nick Craig with Tom Southwell, Niel Ritchie, Jon Bassett and David Valentine troubling his transom.
The trapezoid course allowed close competition on the uphill, some awesome reaching to a wild bearaway and downhill playing in the waves, rewarded by another fun reach to complete a lap, and with at least 3 laps to challenge everyone and allow close racing.
The second race brought even more wind and the D-Zero showed just how well it could cope with the confused waves and sea. Most of the fleet went left and was surprised by those coming in from the right with Jon Bassett leading Nick Craig for the first lap until order was restored and Nick Craig powered away. Two races of around an hour were enough and the fleet enjoyed the long beat back against the waves so that stories of battles fought could begin in the bar.
One thing for certain was the sailors were, despite their tiredness, still managing to have a happy grin on their faces, and pleased to have the Brixham team helping recovery on the slipway, led by the Commodore in his wetsuit greeting everyone in the water.
Boats were checked over, with a few ropes being replaced, though otherwise only tired limbs were apparent.
After an excellent fish n chips at the club and sticky toffee pud or ice cream sundaes, day two arrived with sunshine, a little more breeze and three races scheduled. Another long run to the race area and the fleet was starting to master the conditions. Race 3 saw Jon Bassett leading round the windward mark but getting to know the wet stuff when he remembered the lack of tape on the tiller extension. Tom Southwell, Niel Ritchie and Darren Williams pushed Nick Craig all the way round the course and started to make it all look easy. A tight fleet and true one design class made mistakes costly and gave close racing for everyone.
Race 4 and there was no let up in the wind with gusts of 42knts recorded across the course. Liz Potter put in a stunning performance after a poorly rigged halyard slipped in race 3 she sailed the rest of the day with no downhaul, still claiming and 8th and 11th in race 5. David Valentine had a great last leg battle with Darren Williams and Willie Todd, though managed to hang out further and pip them at the line after a very fast reach with seconds between them at the gun.
Very few capsizes even in some super gusts, with the D-Zero helping the sailors to keep sunny side up, and creating some fantastic shots for Georgie Altham @ Photoboat as everyone scorched round the course.
Race 5 and Nick Craig was a clear winner with Tom Southwell and Niel Ritchie fighting for silver and Jon Bassett and David Valentine scrapping for 4th. Willie Todd after a good series made his presence felt with 4th and the ever-present Darren Williams was again in the mix. Three races and we were done. The upwind beat home in the rain and disappearing coastline pushed sailors to the end, though again the fun and chat as we crossed each other was superb and cheerful, and clearly everyone was having a great weekend.
It has been interesting to see a variety of sailors over the weekend dealing with the conditions, and again, no ultimate height or weight was recorded with the Top 10 sailors ranging between 5ft 6in and 6ft 4, male and female, and 65kg to 100kg; though all had the same grin when they came back in…
Day 3 and the wind had built again. The Race Officer made the call to abandon racing on a wise safety reasoning though probably to everyone’s relief (apart from Nick Craig who was keen to go “I just love sailing”) and that was the Championships.
After 5 punishing and challenging races the D-Zero had once again shown what a fantastic, fast and well-built boat it was with no breakages in the entire fleet. Fastest sailor was Gordon Stewart who was clocked at just under 17 knots carving through the chop, though was also a snorkel diver at one point as he charged through the waves not being able to see where he was going through the spray.
Special mention for Simon Boylin, whom after deciding enough was enough, took the yacht he was staying aboard out to the course with a number of other sailors to watch the action, along with crab sandwiches and beers.
1st & 2022 National Champion – Nick Craig
2nd Tom Southwell
3rd Niel Ritchie
4th Jon Bassett
5th David Valentine
1st Lady: Liz Potter
Full results can be found by clicking here.
Georgie Althams photos can be found by clicking here.
Lantern Rouge (most points without a DNS/RTD etc.): Martin Walker
Thanks go to the sponsors Barracuda Bay, Principal Race Officer Peter Lytton, Commodore Richard Spreckley leading his team all over the weekend and for being in the water to assist recovery on the narrow slip, plus everyone at Brixham Yacht Club, and our UK dealer dzero.co.uk who supported with splicing and spares as necessary.
Photo Credits: photoboat.co.uk Georgie Altham
The UK D-Zero Class Association – 28 June 2022