With a continuously expanding Scottish fleet and with the D-Zero Nationals in Scotland in 2020 the fourth Largs SC D-Zero Open was designated as the “Scottish Championships” and as a result attracted 17 boats – 12 Scottish boats and five from south of the border.

Alistair McLaughlin (2nd at the Nationals), Ian Baillie (renowned RS300 and Laser Sailor), Niel Ritchie and Jon Bassett (both D-Zero hot shots) were all potential podium finishers while David Valentine (Tin Man) has shown really good speed when the wind is up and was not to be underestimated. Racing was bound to be close.

Race 1 was held in light to moderate winds increasing to the end of the day. Sailing was close and the first race went to the Flying Stork (old man McLaughlin) who was pushed hard by the Tin Man (apparently tin foil outer wear is the in thing doon soof according the Mr Valentine) followed by Ian Baillie – it was clear that experience was going to count …… or so the top boys thought? In Race 2 a local 14 year old lad with no experience in the D-Zero showed the old guard how it should be done pushing Ian Baillie hard and beating the Wounded Stork (pride that is!). Close racing was to be had throughout the fleet with Grumpy Latimer being pipped over the line, inches apart, by the Flying Doctor (wee Billy McCarlie). In Race 3 the wind started to pick up a little and continued to for the rest of the race, but still not much more than a force 3. Normal service was resumed in race 3 with Storky leading, Ian Baillie 2nd and a battling Niel Ritchie and Jon Bassett 3rd and 4th. They could relax as Jamie Briggs was taking time out to let others use the demo boat. Race 4 was sailed in good but reducing winds and Ian Baillie kept the pressure on Storky by taking a storming lead with Jon Bassett keeping McLaughlin honest. Four great races, with hot starting and reading the first beat being the rules for the day.

End of Day 1 – Alistair Mclaughlin counting 4 points, Ian Baillie 4pts and Jon Bassett 11pts.

After a burger and pint whilst watching the football, resembling the Massacre of Glencoe, 6-0 to Man City, the D-Zeroists joined with the Musto Skiffs, Vortex and RS200 crews for some excellent curry, and great food organised by Largs SC who also provided more than a few nips of Glenfiddich 12yr old “free gratis” – (yes the Scots are incredibly generous). After a great social, some exaggerated sailing chat, a wee bit o’ sarcasm and a few more pints the “honed” D-Zeroists headed for home.

Day 2 dawned with a bit of an overcast sky and zero wind and the race officer sensibly postponed for and hour or so. Much to everyone’s surprise the postponement flag was taken down when no wind was on the horizon, catching out many who had not even changed for sailing, but Tin Man was “oot thar” reflecting great optimism, if absolutely no taste in sailing attire. Racers from the forty plus race fleet pumped and sailed out to the start, when lo and behold the wind filled in – the race officer is a Genius!

Race 5 was fired off in a steadying F1/2 and the Stork was to show that there’s life in the old bird yet, but things were not too great for Ian Baillie who posted an 8th whilst Jon Bassett was on fire posting a 2nd and wee Jamie was up to his usual tricks by coming 3rd (potential in that lad we think!). McZippy Zero, 187, had given her helm (Liz Potter) a severe talking to the night before and ticked her off for having the bottom three battens in back to front, Liz says they were always like that! – anyway reversing the battens worked and reversed Liz’s bad fortunes to give her a flying 4th place. Race 6 showed how keen all the fleet were to beat the Stork with five boats being OCS, and only two going back. Jon Bassett was convinced Niel Ritchie had bribed the race team as he was sure Niel was ahead of him on the line – the only time Jon would be happy to say that- but he had to post an OCS nevertheless! The racing was as hot as ever and McLaughlin did it again with a win and Ian Baillie was further frustrated to post a 7th, 2nd place went to Jamie Briggs (really annoying those Topper Nippers aren’t they!) and in 3rd place was his dad, Jamie Briggs (who clearly taught Jamie all he new and a bit more besides). Race 7 was to be the last race of the day as failing winds and the earlier postponement meant the time limits would come into play. Another solid race from Storky Mclaughlin saw him finish 1st but Jamie was still hot on his heals in 2nd with a recovering Ian Baillie in 3rd (I don’t think Ian is going to be easy to beat as he gets more familiar with the D-Zero). Billy McCarlie (FYC) pipped Jon Bassett and Niel Ritchie to the line in 4th.

All in all a fantastic regatta with Alistair McLaughlin taking the title of D-Zero Scottish Champion and the rights to carry an “S” on his sail for the coming year – nothing like being set up as a target. Jamie Briggs retired as he was in the demo boat and didn’t sail all the races, but he got Top Yoof award and Tom Ballingham, Warsash SC, got the award for furthest travelled.

Final results were:
1st – 7pts – Alistair (Storky) McLaughlin – Prestwick SC
2nd – 15pts – Ian Baillie – Dalgety Bay SC
3rd – 20pts – Jon Bassett – Largs SC
7th – 43pts – Top Lady Helm and Correct Top Batten!
Full results at can be found by clicking here.

Thanks go to the sponsors, Rob Brown (RO), Howard Smallwood (Race Sec), the race team and Bosuns Table for a fantastic event. All looks good for the 2020 D-Zero Nationals at Largs.

Six Scottish D-Zeros head to their Nationals in Weymouth at the end of the month and the Scottish Fleet can look forward to more hot racing in Scotland at Aberdeen (ASYC) and the Largs Regatta in August, the Northern Travellers at Prestwick SC in September and the Largs Winter Series.

Photos courtesy of Marc Turner (Pfm Pictures), Gordon Cochrane and Martin Latimer (LSC)