A grey start to the Inlands. Photo Copyright Paul Jefferies

On the weekend of the 16th and 17th September 2017 the D-Zero Class gathered at Grafham Water Sailing Club for their 2017 inland championships. With a generous sponsorship from Dinghy Rope and a reasonable forecast the sailors gathered and boats were rigged. PRO Nigel Denchfield advised that we would be using a trapezoid course for the day. After briefing, and perfectly timed, the heavens opened prompting many to seek shelter in the cafe until it passed.

Thankfully the shower passed quickly and people set about launching. Race 1 was held in the strongest wind of the weekend with all races started under the U flag in an attempt to make us behave on the start line. Your roving reporter takes up the story…

Race 1

With a 900m beat making the windward mark look very distant my unfit legs were already aching by about half way up. it was worth the effort though as the top mark approached I found myself right up at the sharp end of the fleet rounding in 3rd place behind Ian Morgan and Rob Lennox. Over the next lap or so a couple of people managed to slip dropping me to 5th. I did get a great view of Ian sailing off and doing a horizon job on the rest of the fleet until lap 3 when the wind started to drop off and become shifty. Ian sailed well to keep ahead and win by a considerable margin, whilst I forgot the advice of ‘always go left at Grafham’ and went right, allowing a couple more boats through. Still a solid 7th place from race 1 was a good start. The top 3 were Ian Morgan from Rob Lennox with John Aston completing the podium.

Race 2

After a long delay following a squall coming through that bought wind by the bucket load, rain, and a massive shift (and the scene of loads of D-Zeros flying around enjoying the wind), followed by a period of flat calm. The PRO, thinking the wind had finally settled back down, decided to give us a go at a second race. During the sequence, the wind decided to shift again. The more eagle eared competitors could hear him saying ‘we will have to abandon if it does not shift back’; and with less than a minute to go this is what happened.

A quick shift of the course and we were off. Cue another wind shift making the left-hand side pay handsomely. At the windward mark, the usual suspects were in the leading group giving me a grandstand view as they made the best of the conditions. Ian led David Summerville and Rob Lennox round the course, which included some very slick mark re-laying as the wind oscillated. At the finish, it was those 3 leading the pack home with fleet newcomer Richard Major (having only bought a boat the weekend before) coming home 4th, Colin Glover from Grafham in 5th and myself in 6th.

2 races, 2 solid results, could I make 3 out of 3?

Race 3

The answer is a resounding ‘no’ as the second part of the Grafham Sailing 101 was loud in my ears ‘Go left…unless it is time to go right’. For race 3 Neil Washington take up the story:

“Washington, squeezed out at the start towards the apparently favoured pin end, crossed behind the entire fleet to find a clear lane out on the right. The majority of the fleet were working the left or left of middle of the beat when the wind swung to the right gifting Edmond, Washington and Ratcliffe, all right of middle of the beat, an early arrival at the windward mark with a comfortable lead. Edmond, despite pressure from Washington up the final beat, sailed a sensible race to take his lead to the finishing whistle with Washington a comfortable second and Ratcliffe retaining third. Morgan and Summerville sailed an epic recovery into 4th and 5th respectively.”

So, Ian was the overnight leader with Rob Lennox in second and David Summerville 3rd. Mandy Sweet was the leading Lady in 4th place overall.

That concluded racing for the day and the fleet retired to clubhouse for an evening meal and the usual bar banter. One of the major talking points was about two of the youngest competitors in the fleet. Eleanor Craig, having borrowed a boat for the event, was 2 -1 up on the head to head with Tom Southwell in their own little series. Could she carry this through to Sunday?

Sunday morning and the fleet were greeted by fog and the water being closed due to lack of visibility but a reasonable breeze was blowing. The keelboats moored just off the shore were barely visible at the time let alone the far shore. The PRO was fairly confident of starting on time though so boats were uncovered as the fleet debated the relative merits on mast setups with the two common ones being ‘Morgan Style’ (no doubt effective) or ‘Standard style’ (which seemed effective in certain hands). This was all cut short as suddenly the far shore was visible and the committee boat was launched. Cue a rush to the changing rooms and some rapid boat launching. Luckily the start line was not too far from the shore and we all gathered ready for race 4, a Sausage/Triangle course with a downwind gate.

And they are off! Photo Copyright Nigel Denchfield

Race 4

Again, Neil Washington takes up the story for race 4 having had the view of the lead three boats, from his position in fourth place, for the duration of the race:

“A murky start to day two but at least there was breeze. The sky cleared in time for the scheduled start and a change to a sausage/triangle course with a downwind gate, to mix things up a bit.

Another clean start with Summerville, Morgan and Major showing form from the gun and leading around the windward mark. Summerville managed to hold on to the lead comfortably, despite the new course configuration keeping the fleet tight and leaving options for attack from the chasing pack, leaving Morgan and Major to fight it out for second place. In the end though Morgan took second with Major happy to bag a top three placing.”

Race 5 – Bart’s Bash

After getting myself buried at the start in race 4, I set about finding a gap for race 5. Starting in clear air and in the front rank definitely paid off but playing the shifts (and not getting it quite right) as I rounded the windward mark somewhere in the teens. Managing to pick a few off down the first run I made a late call to go for the port side of the gate to put me heading right up the next beat. This proved a good call as tacking through the middle and working left paid and I found myself on the fringes of the top 10 by the windward mark. Positions stayed static for me but up at the front of the fleet David Summerville, Ian Morgan and Mandy Sweet were having a battle royal with Rob Lennox and Eleanor Craig wanting some of the action. At the line, it was David from Mandy followed by Ian. A special mention here goes to Paul Murphy who had the honour of being the only boat to be UFD over the entire weekend. The fleet was either well behaved or simply not trying hard enough!

This meant that going in to the final race David could still take the title from Ian. To do this David had to win with Ian finishing 3rd or worse or finish 2nd with Ian 4th or worse….

Race 6

After a good start, I found myself just behind the large leading group going into the first run. Where were the two title contenders though? Those who were looking out saw Ian stopped near a rescue boat about half way up the beat, all eyes were now searching for David who was mired down in the mid fleet and trying to battle his way through. As the fleet compressed going down the run any one of around 10 boats could have stolen a march and taken the lead at the leeward gate. Another late call to go to the port side of the gate and go for a clear lane paid off and I rounded the windward mark in 5th at the end of lap 2 with Eleanor Craig leading from John Aston and Rob Lennox trying his best to get back on terms, with Graeme Tumber in close company. Inexplicably on the final beat I decided to go hard left which proved to be a mistake allowing Tom Southwell and Ben Stevens to sneak past, leaving me 7th overall. Looking ahead down the run Eleanor has kept her lead ahead of John and took the gun with Rob in 3rd, just ahead of Graeme. David, despite his best efforts could only pull back to 12th which meant that Ian Morgan was crowned the 2017 Inland Champion and gets to add the ‘I’ to his sail to go with the ‘W’ he has for winning the winter series.

With 4 different race winners and close racing throughout the fleet where a bad tack or being on the wrong shift could cost you dear it was apparent that a good weekend of racing was had by all.

At prize giving there were prizes throughout the fleet with our title sponsor Dinghy Rope supplying prizes down to 5th place and 5 spot prizes. When combined with the Grafham prize pool this meant entries down to 10th got something.

The prizes all ready to be handed out. Photo Copyright Paul Jefferies

At prize giving Grafham Water Commodore John Aston, 2017 Inland Champion Ian Morgan and Class Chair Paul Jefferies collectively thanked the club for their hospitality, the Race Officer for his persistence on Saturday to get 3 races in (and his mark layer who was very busy both in between and during the races) and the title sponsor Dinghy Rope for their generous prize pool.

The prizes were awarded as follows:

1st and 2017 Inland Champion – Ian Morgan
2nd – David Summerville
3rd – Rob Lennox

1st Lady (and 4th Overall) – Eleanor Craig

Ian Morgan collects the D-Zero Inland Trophy. Photo Copyright Paul Jefferies

Spot Prizes:

UFD Prize – Paul Murphy
Best Capsize – Jon Cowper (R6 on the first run, he was still sampling the water as the rest of the fleet came past him going upwind)
Biggest Delta in results – James Edmund (25 in R1 to 1st in R3)
Lowest placed who completed all races – Gordon Stewart
‘If Only’ prize – Graeme Tumber who posted 3 top 10 results but didn’t sail on Saturday


Full results can be found by clicking here.

Rank Helm’s Name Sail No Sailing Club Nett
1st Ian Morgan 250 Netley SC 11.0
2nd David Summerville 234 Grafham Water Sailing Club 15.0
3rd Rob Lennox 195 Barnt Green SC 22.0
4th Eleanor Craig 193 Draycote Water 28.0
5th Mandy Sweet 211 Grafham Water Sailing Club 29.0
6th John Aston 3 Grafham Water Sailing Club 30.0
7th Richard Major 169 Grafham Water Sailing Club 35.0
8th Neil Washington 71 Grafham Water Sailing Club 42.0
9th Thomas Southwell 217 Netley SC 47.0
10th Paul Jefferies 188 Hunts SC 49.0
11th Ben Ratcliffe 251 Scammonden Water Sailing Club 50.0
12th Colin Glover 227 Grafham Water Sailing Club 56.0
13th James Edmond 208 Queen Mary 57.0
14th Ben Stevens 247 Grafham Water Sailing Club 62.0
15th Ian Lees 241 Scammonden Water SC 67.0
16th Stuart Brown 239 Grafham Water Sailing Club 80.0
17th David Valentine 66 Emsworth Slipper SC 81.0
18th Adam Miles 189 Grafham Water Sailing Club 81.0
19th Graeme Tumber 5 Grafham Water Sailing Club 85.0
20th Paul Murphy 218 Grafham Water Sailing Club 86.0
21st Seb Prowse 170 Queen Mary 94.0
22nd James Holdaway 154 Scammonden Water Sailing Club 101.0
23rd Ed Deacon 54 Hunts SC 103.0
24th Joe Constable 8 Grafham Water Sailing Club 108.0
25th Jon Cowper 42 Hunts SC 108.0
26th Nigel Austin 191 Cransley Sailing Club 109.0
27th Gary Tompkins 158 Hunts SC 114.0
28th Gordon Stewart 181 NHEBSC 124.0
29th Stanley Bray 260 Porthpean 137.0
30th Abby Freeley 183 Hunts SC 137.0
31st David Whitrow 7 Grafham Water Sailing Club 147.0
32nd Alistair Hill 177 Grafham Water Sailing Club 148.0