6/7th October 2018

DAY ONE – Hi-Performer and “dunce of the day” – Alistair ‘Storky’ McLaughlin looked threatening!

Fourteen D-Zeros from Aberdeen to Emsworth plus the demo boat turned out for the eternally popular Yorkshire Dales Northern Open joined by nine Contenders and six Catapults in expectation of some wet and blustery sailing. The ever growing and much travelled Scottish Fleet turned out one boat from Aberdeen and Stonehaven SC, four boats from Prestwick SC and four boats from Largs SC showing how quickly the fleet is growing north of boarder.


Niel Ritchie in his brand new boat enjoying the warmth Photo Copyright Paul Hargreaves

Day one varied from seven to fifteen knots from the North with great shifts and gave some of the lighter guys a good chance at the front with John Bassett (Largs SC) placing 3rd with a harmonious 3,4,5, Tom Whitehead (PSC) scoring a very respectable 1,6,2 and Alistair (Storky) McLaughlin scoring what was looking like 1,1,1 – but weather it was age, a rush of victorious blood to the “heed” or higher oxygen levels in the southern atmosphere he decided to round a mark the wrong way round and ended up retiring from race 1.

Overnight leaders were Tom Whitehead (128) , Niel Ritchie (in his new on the day boat (305) and Jon Bassett (128). Other star performers were heavy weight “poster boy and dealer” David Valentine with a second in race 1 and Alan Henderson with a 2nd in race two after only finishing rigging his D-Zero 233 before the start of race 1. There was an indication of bigger winds on Sunday and the lardy-ones were looking forward to winds up to 25kts on Sunday……… Curry and great hospitality at the club and off to the pub for extra calories.

DAY TWO – Southerly 15 to 25kts …. bring on the BIG BOYS!

-2°C and no wind greeted the early risers at Yorkshire Dales and coffee, tweaking and defrosting were the order of the day – maybe it would be “Storky’s” chance to shine again or maybe Big Niel and Poster Boy Valentine were the favoured heavies?

Some great racing enjoyed  at  the D-Zero Northern Championships Photo Copyright Paul Hargreaves

A slight delay saw the wind come in as forecast from the south with Race one being started in relatively benign conditions. A line tight to the shore and with some serious wannabee front runners getting stuck-in early, the starts were hard fought. Sailing fast and hiking hard was the name of the game all day with several capsizes as the wind increased. Billy McCarlie hit on a great idea … capsize at 3 minutes to go in race two and get the swimming out the way pre-start (he was wrong on both counts). Martin Latimer (author and seriously grumpy dwarf on day two) enjoyed his battle with Tom Whitehead so much he tried to gain entry into Tom’s boat rather than missing the stern – no collision, but a windward capsize, followed by kissing masts and a lost Windex made old grumpy dwarf even grumpier. His later fishing expedition where he caught a fish counter boy and capsized again) didn’t help!
There was now absolute side to play and the races went down to good sailing, tactics and handling (and staying upright).

Race 4 went to Storky, who excelled in the medium winds rounding all the buoys the right way, followed closely by local man Keith Escritt in the demo boat and Big Niel 3rd.

Race 5 and the wind was getting up, the start was just as hot, and the first beat was full on with the fast guys going into the shore. Some fantastic down-wind planning saw some really great sailing, but it stayed very close.

Alastair ‘Storky’ McLaughlin navigating his way round the course. Photo Copyright Paul Hargreaves

The wind continued to build to gusts of 25kts plus and thrills and spills continued. The racing remained close with the fleet closer together with a lot of place changing. Neil Ritchie ultimately built a big lead to take the race but Tom (one of the lighter guys in the fleet) put in a fantastic 2nd with “Dealer Dave” storming in at 3rd.

Between race 5 and 6 the wind blew up further and with fatigue, overdoses of adrenalin and wanting get home in one piece being on some competitors minds the fleet dropped to 7 boats. For the start the final race, Race 6, the wind moderated slightly with all the boats sticking closely together for most of the race. Again, hard hiking, and fast sailing were the order of the day, as was playing the regular shifts. First went to Graham Topley in the demo boat, 2nd to Niel and 3rd to Dave.

Overall results can be found by clicking here. Congratulations to Niel for putting in great performance to win by 4 points from Tom who beat Dealer Dave into third on count back. No one had it their own way it own way with Tom, Dave, off-course Storky, Jon Bassett all showing that next year’s Scottish and Northern events will not be a push over. Next year’s event will be earlier in the year but is likely to be even better attended. A big thanks to Yorkshire Dales SC, the race team and the volunteers.

YDSC resident photographer Paul Hargreaves was in attendance and his work can be seen by clicking here.