D-Zeros battling it out at the Grafham Grand Prix. Photo Copyright Tim Olin

Paul Jefferies, GBR 188 reports on his day:

On the 28th December 2015 the D-Zero class gathered in force at Grafham Water to take part in the Grafham Grand Prix. The event which is round 4 of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series 2015/2016 was doubling up for the class as Round 5 of their Winter Series 2015/2016 and an Open Meeting as the opening meeting in November had to be postponed due to excessive wind.

With the forecast looking fresh to fruity one member of the fleet decided that a smaller sail was the way forward and put up her Blue Rig. Would this be a good decision or not? Only time would tell…

Race 1

With the D-Zero as one of the slower boats in the fleet on the B course starting and finding a clear lane would prove to be key. Something I was most definitely found lacking in all day. The windward mark on lap 1 was a busy place to be with the usual procession of starboard tackers making things difficult for the port tack approachers to find a gap. The top reach seemed to reward going high and hunting for gusts as it was a tight reach. there were definite gains to be found by the wing mark. Then the long run down provided plenty of opportunity for tactical sailing to make the most of the small swell that was being generated by the wind and wakes from other boats (s0mething I was surprised to find out that I seemed to be pretty good at all day).

Through all the confusion, as is usually the way, the top of the fleet managed to pick their way through with Ian Morgan and David Summerville breaking away from the fleet where they were to stay for the rest of the race with local sailor John Aston crossing the line in 3rd in class.

There were some superb battles throughout the fleet with D-Zeros seeming to be attracted to each other creating small groups where the racing was keen.

Crossing the line 6th in class seemed a fair result given my poor start. Between races and with the wind dying off I elected to remove the chock from the mast to get the rig more upright. Would this prove to be a smart decision?

Race 2

Now realising starts and clean air were key I was determined to be on the line. This time I was just plain late and found myself struggling to make headway upwind in the breezed that seemed to be dying off. However once round the windward mark I started to make good progress form being right at the back of the entire fleet let alone being anywhere near any other D-Zeros. Some good use of the swell on the run and picking the correct side saw me making good headway through the fleet.

With a group of 5 or 6 D-Zeros not too far ahead at the end of lap 2 and me gaining on them fast a good result could be possible. Sadly the Race office decided that the gap between myself and the group was just too inviting and decided to shorten course with me some 5 meters from the line. Ruing what might have been I set about making plans for the next start.

I did have a great view of the grandstand finish with David Summerville seeming to have the class battle tied from a fast closing Ian Morgan. At the line it was Ian who got the bullet by 1 second from David with Ed Dyer coming home 3rd.

Race 3

At the start I found a gap on the line about 2/3rds of the way down. The wind seemed to be lighter so the rig being more upright should help. The guns goes, I judge I am good to go and get a bit of a flyer off the line only to see the pin end boat racing across the fleet with a general recall flag flying. Could I repeat my success at the restart?

After a short pause for the RO to tweak the line and course the wind decided to come back and blow the strongest it had all day. Cue a bit of a scrabble to put the chock back in front of the mast. Having done this successfully I realised I had missed the first 2 start signals. So with no clue how far through the sequence we were a good start looked impossible and it proved to be the case.

With the start best forgotten about I set about searching for a clear lane with some success. Still well down on most of the fleet by the windward mark a storming reach, run and reach pulled me back in to contention and the leading bunch were actually in sight at the start of lap 2. Working the shifts well the boat really seemed to be in a nice groove upwind and felt the best it had all day. Breaking clear of the group I was in I set about consolidating the advantage whilst trying to close the gap on the leading 3. After a tense 3rd lap the finish line was in sight and my best fleet result of the day crossing the line in 4th behind Ian, David and Ed.

So a positive end to what was an exhausting day on the water. There was competitive but on the whole friendly racing throughout the fleet and with the other boats on Bravo course. As tired sailors made it back to the shore a few thoughts turned to the fleet prizes with Grafham awarding fleet prizes to any class with more than 8 boats and the D-Zero class also having Open Meeting prizes and trophies to award.

The Grafham GP extracted results, based on finishing positions in each race are as follows, there are the results that are being used to for D-Zero Winter Series 2015/2016 (GP Result in brackets with full results are available here):

1 (25th) Ian Morgan Hill Head SC
2 (27th) David Summerville Grafham Water SC
3 (42nd) Ed Dyer Royal Sothern YC
4 (47th) John Aston Grafham Water SC
5 (48th) Neil Washington Grafham Water SC
6 (49th) Paul Jefferies Hunts SC
7 (51st) Russ Hopkins Tewkesbury SC
9 (52nd) Nigel Austin Cransley SC
8 (53rd) James Sainsbury Grafham Water SC
10 (54th) Tom Southwell Hil Head SC
11 (55th) Graeme Tumber Grafham Water SC
12 (56th) Mandy Sweet (Bue Rig) Grafham Water SC
13 (60th) Gordon Stewart North Herts and East Beds SC
14 (61st) Dave Woods Rossendale Valley SC
15 (63rd) Rob Campbell Cransley SC
16 (65th) Scott Derham Emsworth Slipper SC
17 (66th) Alistair Hill Grafham Water SC
18 (70th) Kevin Moll Hunts SC

Open Meeting Results (based on first over the line, no handicap for Blue Rig):

Rank SailNo HelmName Club R1 R2 R3 Nett
1st 156 Ian Morgan Hill Head SC (1.0) 1.0 1.0 2.0
2nd 192 David Summerville Grafham Water SC (2.0) 2.0 2.0 4.0
3rd 139 Ed Dyer Royal Southern YC (18.0) 3.0 3.0 6.0
4th 3 John Aston Grafham Water SC 3.0 (7.0) 7.0 10.0
5th 188 Paul Jefferies Hunts SC 6.0 (9.0) 4.0 10.0
6th 119 Russ Hopkins Tewkesbury SC 5.0 (8.0) 5.0 10.0
7th 191 Nigel Austin Cransley SC 4.0 (11.0) 8.0 12.0
8th 71 Neil Washington Grafham Water SC 8.0 4.0 (11.0) 12.0
9th 178 Thomas Southwell Hill Head SC 7.0 (10.0) 6.0 13.0
10th 104 James Sainsbury Grafham Water SC 9.0 5.0 (10.0) 14.0
11th 5 Graeme Tumber Grafham Water SC 10.0 6.0 (19.0 DNC) 16.0
12th 181 Gordon Stewart North Herts & East Beds SC (14.0) 14.0 9.0 23.0
13th 175 Dave Woods Rossendale Valley SC 11.0 12.0 (15.0) 23.0
14th 190 Robert Campbell Cransley SC (13.0) 13.0 12.0 25.0
15th 135 Mandy Sweet Grafham Water SC 12.0 15.0 (16.0) 27.0
16th 177 Alistair Hill Grafham Water SC 16.0 (17.0) 13.0 29.0
17th 121 Scott Derham Emsworth Slipper SC 15.0 (16.0) 14.0 29.0
18th 193 Kevin Moll Hunts SC 17.0 (18.0) 17.0 34.0

From here the D-Zero Class moves on to Oxford SC on the 2nd January for the Oxford Blue. With 13 D-Zeros pre-entered, the forecast looking to be breezy and the 2 title contenders both present it is looking like being another great event for the class. There is still time to enter simply click here but be quick as the event is limited to 150 boats and the organisers say spaces are filling up fast!

For the positions after round 5 of the D-Zero Winter Series 2015/2016 click here.