The weekend of the 21st and 22nd November saw round 1 of the D-Zero Winter Series 2015/2016 and round 1 of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series 2015/2016 take place. It was a weekend of contrasts with Saturday being very windy to the point of survival conditions and Sunday starting very light and then filling in to a steady F3 for the non-discardable double points pursuit race.

Ian Morgan leads the D-Zero fleet at the Draycote Dash. Photo © Tim Olin

Overall it was a very successful weekend for the D-Zero fleet with 8 of the 10 entries making it on to the water at some point over the weekend. In the final results the class was 1 of only 2 classes to have 2 boats in the top 10 with Ian Morgan and Neil Crossouard in 8th and 9th overall respectively. Then a group of D-Zeros 20th to 22nd with Russ Hopkins, Tom Southwell and Nigel Austin. Full results are here. Tom is also the leading Harken Youth sailor in the GJW Direct Sailjuice series after the first event (full standings click here). For the standings after round 1 in the D-Zero Winter Series 2015/2016 click here.

Tom Southwell leads the Harken Youth Award in the GJW Sailjuice Winter Series 2015/2106. Photo © Tim Olin

Russ Hopkins – GBR119 reports on his weekend:

10 Hardy, excited and Devoti’d sailors signed up for this year’s Draycote Dash. An event that signifies the start of the GJW Sailjuice Winter Series. More importantly for the D-Zero fleet it was the first of a series of 9 winter events chosen as part of their Winter Series.

The D-Zero has led the way with the largest (still is at time of print) entry within the global series. This was reflected with the largest single class entry for the Dash. A club with no home fleet! Testament to the speed at which the class has grown over its first 12 months and the dedication and personality of its fleet.

The forecast ahead of the event was not so appealing. When you hear your next-door neighbour trying to rescue their fence at midnight you know, as a sailor, you may be in for a torrid time!
Thankfully for the travellers the well organised race committee from Draycote Water managed to get the racing ahead in conditions fruitier than the man from Delmonte’s underpants. Given the severity of the wind several boats missed the start gun (half the total fleet we struggling to launch) With only 2 boats actually on the race track at this point Ian Morgan sailed a controlled race to finish ahead of Gordon Stewart
The remainder of the day saw Neil Crossouard and Ian Morgan tussle for first place, with Russ Hopkins only slightly troubling them.
Special mention to Gordon Stewart (my Sandiline clad buddy) who managed to complete ALL the Saturday races! That deserves a prize in itself!
At the end of day one the results stacked as follows:

1st Ian Morgan 1,1,2, DNC
2nd Neil Crossouard DNC, 2,1,1
3rd Russ Hopkins DNC, 3, 4, 2
4th Nigel Austin DNC, 4, 3, 3
5th Gordon Stewart 2,6,6, 4
6th Tom Southwell DNF, 5,5, DNF

As Sunday dawned it became apparent that it was the polar opposite of the previous days sailing. The lake was like a mirror, the racing was wisely delayed. Sadly the wind never really arrived and the fleet launched in a very dull drifter. Made even harder to swallow was it was a double point’s non discardable pursuit race. The fleet start was number 37 (IIRC) Ian Morgan led around the windward mark closely followed by Hopkins. Both of which pulled a commanding lead. Before Hopkins lost complete interest and ability and engulfed in a fit of his own loathing and rage managed to sail himself to the very back of the fleet. Giving him a very big job to try and rescue any kind of result. Sadly it was a bit of a dull race, so I won’t bore you avid readers any further! It was however a great show for the Zero’s with Ian and Neil recording a 16th and 17th overall respectfully!

Other selected quotes from the D-Zero fleet:

Ian Morgan – GBR156:

Just want to say thanks to all the D-Zero sailors who turned up for the Draycote dash. Brilliant fun but the results don’t quite reflect the closeness of the races or quite how windy Saturday was! Such a great laugh, can’t wait for Grafham next weekend.

Kevin Moll – GBR193 (a newcomer to the fleet and his first sail in his new boat):

Legs are a bit heavy today!

Having gone out on Sunday I was pleased I didn’t go out on Saturday. When the wind picked up I was struggling a bit to get the balance right and just general boat handling was poor. Whilst it remained light airs I did alright and was alongside Russ, Nigel and a couple of other D-Zero’s for about 5 marks, then the wind picked up and I went the wrong way on one leg and at one mark got myself in a muddle under a pack of boats and went backwards fairly rapidly after that.

Loved it though, but a lot to learn! Already looking forward to this weekend.

Whilst I didn’t race on Saturday, I picked up a lot of useful regatta knowledge, which hopefully, will save me time and mistakes in future regatta’s!

From here the D-Zero fleet moved on to Grafham on the 28th/29th November 2015 for their Training, class AGM and Open Meeting which was scheduled to be  round 2 of the D-Zero Winter Series 2015/2016 for a report of that event click here.

The next event in the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series is the Datchet Flyer. At the time of writing the D-Zero class has 11 boats entered for this event which is also round 3 of the D-Zero Winter Series.