The last weekend in April saw the D-Zero fleet gather at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club for their 2019 Inland Championships which were sponsored by the UK D-Zero dealer dzero.co.uk and Chichester Harbour Gin.
As the weekend approached a fair bit of attention was paid to the forecast with the late announcement that Storm Hannah would be venting her fury across the country on Saturday.
The early arrivals on Friday all canned the idea of going for a friendly sail in the afternoon as the rain fell giving the surrounding countryside a good wash. Thoughts soon turned to the evening entertainment and a good contingent of the early arrivals decamped to The Forresters in nearby Grassington for an evening meal and the usual D-Zero class banter to start. With the following day in mind though most of the fleet opted for an early night.
Saturday dawned and it was clear the Hannah was wreaking havoc with the sailing calendar with events to the south being cancelled or postponed. Not so for us. Dodging the rain and the showers boats were prepared ready for battle. Following a hearty lunch and briefing boats wee moved down to the shore ready to launch. At this point Hannah decided that a squall was just what we needed. Dave Valentine seemed to pay no attention and luanch anyway soon followed by Niel Ritchie who went of for a bit of a blast. Dave soon realised the rest of us were waiting and came back to cower on shore whilst the squall went through.
Race 1 got underway in a good breeze. After a clean start, relative newcomer to the fleet Gavin Fleming showed everyone how to master the conditions and led us round the windward mark. From there he held on in the increasing wind and looked set for the bullet until the last beat to the line where he decided that getting stuck in irons would be a fun game to play and slipped down the order eventually crossing in 8th. For most people it was survival conditions but the big boys were having a ball with Niel Ritchie taking the bullet ahead of current National Chamopion Steve Bolland in second and Ian Ballie completing the podium.
Race 2 was back to back with race 1 and Hannah decided that there simply wasnt enough wind across the course so ramped it up another notch. What happened for most of the race your roving reporter cannot say but there were people hanging on for grim death and cpasized boats littering the race course.
The only event of note was that the race leaders seemed to have a navigational issue and headed off to the wrong mark. This left your roving reporter in a nett 3rd place only needing to bring it home. unfortunately this proved to be impossible and after a long swim I have the pleasure of being the only boat towed ashore.
Niel and Ian gracefully retired having realised their error. this left Steve to take the bullet followed home by relative lightweight Jon Basset and Dave Valentine completing the podium. Steve was heard to utter his phrase of ‘weapons grade wind’ to which everyone agreed.
So overnight Steve led from Dave and Tom. With many people counting at least 1 DNF/DNS Sunday could see everything change.
As the fleet relaxed in the clubhouse waiting for dinner it seemed that Hannah had one final trick up her sleeve. As we watched on a huge squall came down the lake, ripping spray off the surface, blowing 1 boat of its trolley (with only minor damage thankfully) and shredding Jon Cowpers tent and giving his bedding a shower.
After the excitement of the squall (too exciting for some including D-Zero poster boy Tom Southwell who took a nap on the sofa) Yorkshire Dales excelled themselves providing an excellent meal for the assembled competitors. Tom seemed to be energised after his nap and managed to consume the extra puddings, a total of 4 (perhaps he was hoping for more wind on Sunday). After plenty of banter some aching bodies retired to their accommodation whilst other once again made their way to The Forresters for more beer and banter.
Sunday dawned dry and bright with a gentle breeze blowing from the north, a complete contrast to Saturday. With an earlier start posted in the hopes of completing 4 races the fleet launched early and full contingent made their way over the start.
on a crowded and slightly starboard biased line it was clear that getting off the line would be key. The fleet were a little too keen and combined with a shift the RO decided we should all come back and try again.
At the second time of asking, and under black flag, we got away cleanly. This time Steve and your roving report (and class chair) led the fleet up to the first mark. Not everyone was as successful with someone electing to take a dip right after tacking (apparently the mainsheet was dropped as they hiked out). Cue some encouragement from their fellow competitors At the windward mark Steve led closely followed by myself with Alistair ‘Storky’ McLaughlin in hot pursuit. By the next mark Storky had managed to sneak past me and set off in pursuit of Steve. It was not to be though and Steve took the bullet from Storky with me completing the podium. Notably Liz Potter in Zippy Zero (the resident class blogging boat) came home 4th seemingly finding the lighter conditions very much to her liking (also notable that Liz and Zippy were one of the few boats that didn’t take a dip the previous day).
This result meant Steve had 1 hand on the trophy but with the wind being fickle at times and no one really having a consistent series everything could change.
Race 4 got away immediately after race 3 and the chances of getting all 6 races in were looking good.
This time your roving reporter shot off the start line to lead at the windward mark followed by Ian and Gavin just ahead of a large chunk of boats. Steve was buried in the fleet, could he pull it back?
Ian and Gavin both got past me on the next beat but the wind gods decided to throw a curve ball with the wind bec
Photo Copyright Paul Hargreaves oming increasingly fickle at the start of the second lap. Gavin seemed to miss the wind filling in allowing me back past and I set off in pursuit of Ian. Catching him quickly down the reach I was thinking of glory as Gavin found himself slipping back towards the chasing pack. Again it was not to be with Ian extending out down the final reach to take the bullet followed by myself with Gavin completing the podium.
This threw a lifeline to Steves’ rivals, could they take advantage? Cue another curve ball from the wind gods who decided a shift was in order. After a couple of attempts to get us away that were abandoned due to shifts, the wind dropping away completely then filling in from a different direction it looked as though that might be it.
The RO decided we had not had enough though and got us away for a 5th race.
With the wind now coming in streaks from the north east corner it was clear that whoever got in to one would be home and free, could anyone do that? The answer was yes with Storky getting away and showing the fleet a clean transom. Behind him it was very much a game of snakes and ladders with those who were dead and buried one minute finding themselves back up at the front the next. On the second lap you roving reporter decided there was nothing to lose by following everyone high on the run and decided to gybe off after spotting what looked to be some wind coming off the eastern shore. This paid handsomely and, much to the chagrin of the entire fleet except Storky (who was long gone) and Tom (who managed to stay ahead), I popped out in 3rd place. Only 2 and a bit legs to go for another goo result. With the wind filling in a little it seemed Tom and I were destined to battle it our for second. Tom managed to hook into some new breeze by the next mark and extended away leaving me to try and hold off Steve for 3rd.
After a nervy leg where the wind filled in behind I rounded the final mark just ahead of Steve with Gordon Stewart closing rapidly on us. Steve tried some Jedi mind tricks to try and encourage me to tack before the filling breeze reached us. In the end he tacked away from underneath and we drag raced to the line, me taking it by a boat length. Unfortunately for Steve he was OCS.
But what had happened to Storky who had crossed the line to silence? Turns out he was a little too keen at the start and was over along with Steve. This promoted Tom to race winner, myself to another second and Gordon to 3rd.
At this point the RO had decided we had enough and sent us ashore as the wind dropped further and became even more shifty. Back on shore people were speculating on the result. It looked like Steve had done enough to add the Inlands title to his National Championship title but who was second and third?
None were more surprised than myself to discover I had come second overall with Tom completing the podium.
At prize giving the host club, sponsors and competitors were all thanked. Richard Paynter from the host club announced the winners with Dave Valentine from dzero.co.uk presenting the prizes. Everyone agreed it was a great event and, thanks to the generosity of the prizes from the event sponsors and Yorkshire Dales no one went away empty handed.
Paul Hargreaves was on site over the weekend, you can see his excellent photos by clicking here. The class would like to extend their thanks to Paul for allowing us to use his photos.
Full results can be found by clicking here. A summary of the prize winners is below:
1st Steve Bolland Bristol Corinthinan Yacht Club
2nd Paul Jefferies Hunts SC
3rd Tom Southwell Netley SC
1st Lady Liz Potter West Kirby SC
Furthest Traveller Niel Ritchie Aberdeen and Stonehaven SC
From here the D-Zero class moves on to Largs SC on the 18th/19th May for the dzero.co.uk Chichester Harbour Gin D-Zero Scottish Championships.