With the forecast looking to be mild and with a reasonable wind a good fleet of 8 D-Zeros made their way to Farmoor reservoir for the final round of the D-Zero winter series.
There were 3 starts and with the PY cutoff being 1030 the D-Zeros were pretty much the fastest boats on the startline which definitely gave us an advantage. Your roving reporter actually made it to this event so this report is more of a personal account of the day….
For the first race of the day we had the pleasure of watching the faster boats from start one make their way up the beat. With a rapid fire sequence of 3-2-1-Go for the following starts we only had 6 minutes to wait until we were off. With the Aeros going the same way up the first beat it seemed that middle to left was the way to go. Your roving reporter found himself in a gap on the front row and shot off the start line and headed out left. Despite boats further down the line tack back the lift on starboard seemed to the holding firm with small twitches that were not worth tacking on (despite the protestations of a GP14 who had to tack off under me). When the shift came it was obvious and held all the way up to the windward mark leaving a very short tack to round and off on to the reach.
Looking back the rest of the D-Zeros were still busy playing in the pack and there was just 1 boat in front of me. All looking good for a top result then as the lead i had over the rest of the chasing pack seemed to grow and the small breakaway group of leaders i was in sailed off. Things got a little more complex as we quickly found ourselves in the Aero fleet and having to pick our way through them, sometimes compromising ultimate strategy over keeping out of trouble.
A small scare on the last lap where I found a big hole and watched Tom Southwell ctching me rapidly but it was not to be for tom as the wind duly filled in for me and i sailed away to take class honours with Tom a little way back then a big gap back to Nigel who has got the better of the rest of the fleet to complete the class podium.
Could I do the same again in race 2? This time the fleet seemed to favour the committee boat but watching the starts ahead of us there was still a good port shift up near the windward mark. Start almost furthest down the line in the fleet it was another good start in clear air. Approaching the windward mark it was initially not looking so good until the trusty port shift push the people coming in from starboard in to tacking leaving a clear way through.
3rd boat this time, the rest of the D-Zeros looking to be buried in the pack I allowed myself a wry smile which lasted for a fee seconds when I promptly binned it in to windward. I can tell you Farmoor is not warm at this time of year! At least my fleet mates didn’t laugh too much on the way past with a couple of familiar voices asking if I was OK.
Time for damage limitation but by the time I got the boat back up most of the fleet were past. in to recovery mode and work hard mode to warm up. All seemed to be going well until a call for room illicted no response from an errant 420. Leaving me nowhere to go I had to barge in and then take a penalty dropping back most of the good work I had done.
Still by the finish I had got past the rest of the D-Zeros except Nigel and Tom. Tom had done a horizon job so no chance of catching him but Nigel seemed unaware of how quickly I was gaining. At the final mark he elect to round up and carry on. Having nothing to lose and feeling that port was the headed tack I did the opposite of Nigel and drove for the pin end of the finish. Not looking to see where he was just concentrating on boat speed. Heard a hoot, looked up and I had pipped Nigel by a couple of feet on the line. Much to my delight and his disappointment.
Between races it was commented to Dave Valentine that his mast looked a lot more raked than the rest of us. A quick bit of consultation revealed he had his mast mast in opposite to the rest of us. Dave, not being someone to shy from a challenge, elected to try and flip it on the water. All was going well until a gust caught the rig and flipped him in. Luckily there was a rescue boat on hand and he managed to get back upright and rig in position for race 3.
With a pause whilst the course was rest due to the wind shifting would the same tactic still play? finding another gap on the line heading middle left seemed to be paying until a large right shift, followed by a left shift bought the fleet together at the windward mark. Still well up and still the first D-Zero round the mark things were going well. this time Tom and Nigel were both pretty close (as was the rest of the D-Zero fleet) so protecting positions seemed the way forward. Working on the old tactic of keep yourself between them and the mark seemed to pay until I inexplicably decided to go right to skirt a large hole. Tom and Nigel both went left. It looked like curtains for me until the wind gods smiled and shifted to carry me just across them. unfortuately on the reach an overzealous laser sailor decided to luff hard pushing me up to windward and almost to a halt letting both Nigel and Tom through. The joys of handicap racing!
Now in chase mode the wind seeming to build towards the promised 15kts and my legs crying no more after the chilly dip earlier I wondered if I could catch the pair of them. Luckily for me Nigel came across an equally over zealous Solo sailor who took him right up to windward on the bottom reach allowing me through having gone low to stay on the wind. Unfortunately for me Tom used his youth and fitness to slowly get away upwind (not that I am bitter about that at all) but then seemed to put the brakes on offwind allowing me to close up. Traffic played its part again though with Tom managing to sneak through ahead of a bunch of Aeros and me left trying to navigate my way through them on the bottom reach to the final mark. At the finish line Tom was only 21 seconds ahead so a good result for me and what might have been without the energy sapping swim in race 2!
Overall this meant Tom took class honours coming home 46th overall with your roving reporter in 52nd and Nigel a little way further back in 72nd.
In the Winter Series standings it meant that Tom is the 2018/2019 Winter Series Champion and may carry the ‘W’ on his sail for the next 12 months. Andrew Spencer to 2nd by a single point from Nigel Austin. Kevin Moll from Hunts SC climbs up to 4th with James Gerwat dropping to 5th. A more detailed round on this and the SailJuice winter series will follow shortly.
From here the class moves on the the traditional season start of the UK Dinghy racing with the RYA Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace. The class will be there on stand F12 and you can get a discount by using the discount code on this page.