Thanks to Rob Lennox for the below report-
D-Zero at the Datchet Flyer 2016
Datchet Sailing Club
Seven D-Zeros sailed the 2016 Datchet Flyer, outnumbered only by Musto Skiffs and Merlins. After the customary “Team Full English Breakfast” and Santa’s little briefing, we got ready to launch. Little did we realise that this would be the most exciting part of the day as the level of the reservoir, the direction of the wind, and the plant life combined to give a lee shore ski slope with the grip of an ice rink. First down was Nigel Austin who said “I’ve got this!” only to hit the water with the speed of a ramp launched lifeboat. After that we resorted to two people belayed at the top gingerly lowering boat and sailor down the incline.
And so to the racing where Tom Southwell continued where he left off at Burghfield, sprinting off in the first race to an impressive 20th, leaving Ian Morgan (37th) and Rob Lennox (39th) to engage in a bit of a dog fight. The rest of the team, Nigel (52nd), Seb Prowse (54th), Gordon Stewart (62nd), and Robert Campbell (73rd) began with a close battle which would continue all weekend.
In the 2nd race the normal pecking order was re-established with Ian 12th, Rob 15th, Tom 24th, Seb 44th, Nigel 67th, Gordon 74th, and Robert DNF. Racing a D-Zero was proving very difficult; the fast/slow fleet split this year meant we were no longer anything like the fastest class on the slow start; the Datchet wind was struggling to find its way down to the sailing surface and was very patchy; and most of the wind was being used up by classes whose sail area is measured, not in square metres, but hectares. Added to this the course was very challenging, with a handbrake gybe on to a reach so fine that if you failed to nail it you ended up having to put tacks in.
Before the 3rd and final Saturday average lap race the wind gusted up considerably, enabling Robert to do his photogenic plane in front of the VR Sport camera man. This led to him being invited to carry an on board camera on Sunday, the footage from which we await with interest.
In the 3rd race Ian improved again, to 8th, despite being taken out by a random Flying Fifteen which appeared to have a wind shadow in all directions. Rob was 14th, Tom 61st, Robert 67th, Nigel (in the inaptly named Southwell Beater) 68th, Seb 71st, and Gordon DNC after his main halliard went into auto-reef mode and he was last seen approaching the lee shore canted ice rink with a pocket handkerchief sail.
Among the lessons learnt from day 1 were: don’t be put off by the large number of notionally slower RS200s in front of us on the water, they to were being well sailed; keep practising your mainsheet management skills Robert as you only want one part going through the ratchet block at any one time; and remember to pack some sailing boots with exceptional grip, preferably with crampons, for launching and recovery.
And so to the long pursuit race on Sunday. For once, we had our own start, one minute ahead of a huge number of disparate classes including the Aero 9s, the Halo, and the Scorpion and we needed every second of that advantage. Ian sailed brilliantly to 5th in the slow fleet behind only a GP14, two RS200s, and a Laser. He had even managed to re-overtake the Halo. Rob was 12th after being behind 2 Aero 9s at one stage only to leave them for dead up one beat. He also had a debate with the Comet 3 and an Enterprise as to who was ahead at the actual finish time which meant he conceded 10th. The rest of the D-Zeros were not far behind, with Nigel 18th, Tom 20th, Seb 24th, Gordon 38th, and cameraman Robert 39th.
This meant Ian was a very impressive 8th overall. Rob was 21st and Tom 29th. Seb was 55th and Nigel 58th. Gordon was 77th, and Robert 79th.
Combining these results with those from the Draycote Dash, we have 2 D-Zeros in the top 10, Ian in 3rd and Rob in 9th. Only the Lasers can match that with 2nd and 10th. Of the others that competed in both events, Tom is 24th, Nigel is 28th, Gordon is 35th, and Robert is 36th. There are still plenty of events to come, so it’s all to sail for.