On fathers day weekend in 2017 the D-Zero fleet gathered at Royal Torbay Yacht Club for their National Championships. 34 boats had pre-entered but one was unable to make the trip at very late notice due to a relative being taken very ill, the class wishes them a speedy recovery. A number of the usual suspects were also missing this year due to such silliness as getting married, attending weddings, buying houses that need work and having babies. We hope their priorities will be corrected for 2018! Happily those missing in action were replaced by a lot of new faces such as Steve Bolland of RS300 fame, Martin Latimer and Jon Bassett who made the long trip from Largs and a whole host of people from the hotbed of talent located at Restronguet and Mounts Bay. Combine all of that with a generous prize pot from our title sponsor Harken, Live Tracking from SailRacer with our friends at Suntouched picking up the tab this meant the class could call in VR Sport TV to film all 3 days.
Thursday evening saw a few early arrivals sampling the delights of Torquay with the table at Pizza Express gradually expanding through the evening.
On Friday morning the fleet were greeted with a forecast of glorious sunshine but sadly the wind forecast was not as good for the entire weekend prompting questions raning from if we would get a full series in to if we would get any racing in (depending on which forecast you believed). Our PRO Michael Currie announced that he intended to try and run 3 races on Friday as the wind was supposed to be the best of the weekend. With that the fleet launched ready for action…
Setting off in a dying breeze from a packed start line the leading pair of Greg Bartlett and George Cosuins rounded the windward mark with a small lead over a chasing pack consisting of Steve Bolland, Ian Morgan, Paul Scullion and Kian Andrews. As the leaders rounded the breeze was dropping quickly leaving those mired in the pack with very little options to catch up. At mark 3 Greg and George rounded pretty much together with George electing to go right down the run to try and keep clean wind as Greg and the chasing pack went left. George soon realised the right would not pay as the chasing pack overhauled him. By the leeward mark Ian Morgan had made his way through to lead the fleet along the bottom reach on what would turn out to be the final leg with the wind dropping away to almost nothing. With George and Paul chasing him down though nothing was guaranteed At the finish Ian just held on from the fast finishing Paul with George 3rd.
After a long postponement to see what the wind would do the fleet were greeted with the welcome sight of the breeze filling in from the east. A sea breeze according to the locals. It seemed to establish and was holding steady so after a re-laying of the course the race team tried again. Not content with a 180 shift the wind decided to shift just before the start causing a general recall. After a short wait as the wind did shift back and hold the fleet got away only from the breeze to start dropping off again.
At the windward mark it was Greg Bartlett who had got away from the fleet to have a big lead with Dave Bartlett rounding in 2nd and Kian Andrews in 3rd. With very little wind left now it was staying in pressure that would decide the race. With Dave dropping low and ending up having to put in a short tack to make mark 2 Kian got through to second. This was how it stayed to the finish with the race officer sending the fleet home in what was left of the wind.
This meant Greg Bartlett would be wearing the leaders jersey for day 2 (and surely becoming a target for the rest of the fleet).
Once boats were packed away the fleet headed back to the club for a BBQ and some socialising. Steve Bolland, deciding that the fleet were a bunch of lightweights, headed off out himself with some friends for the night (more on that shortly)….
Day 2 dawned and with a postponement of at least 1 hour due to a trawler race taking place in the bay (and no wind) the fleet set about with the inevitable bimbling, banter and annual maintenance that always takes place on a nationals weekend. As the postponement was transferred to the committee boat 2 things became clear. There were 2 boats in the line that still had covers on. 1 belonging to class chair Paul Jefferies who had aggravated a shoulder injury injury the previous day. The other belong to Steve of whom there was no sign. Speculation was rife amongst the fleet as to what had happened…
Starting in a steady breeze that was holding just about 5kts the fleet was split as to which way to go. A new face at the front in the form of Jon Cowper decided hard left was the way to go and, to his surprise, found himself leading at the windward mark being hotly pursued by Kian, Darren Williams and Paul. Jon held on for the top reach. By the leeward mark Darren had pulled through to lead, Jon in second and Paul in close company. This time the fleet were sent round for a second lap. Jon elected to go left again rather than cover the leaders. This allowed Paul to get through to 2nd by the windward mark and set off in pursuit of Darren. At the finish Darren had done enough to hold Paul off with Jon coming in 3rd.
With the wind holding steady, even increasing slightly up to 8 even 9 knots at times the lighter sailors were seen having to hike. The RO turning things around quickly and soon the fleet was in sequence for race 4. This time it paid to tack on the shifts and at the windward mark it was Paul being pursued by Kian, George and Greg with Mandy Sweet finding the conditions to her liking in 5th. On the following reach and run Mandy overhauled Greg to move in to 4th. On the second lap the leaders covering each other with Mandy electing to split and go left. At the windward mark the order was the same and looked like staying the same until George found some extra pressure down the run to sneak inside Kian at the leeward mark. With the race being shortened now the order stayed the same to the finish.
Race 5 got away at the second attempt with the fleet a little too keen at the first time of asking. George led round the windward mark being hotly pursued by Paul and Ian with Jon Bassett from Largs popping up in 4th place. There was a small gap from the leading bunch back to pretty much the rest of the fleet who were all vying for position. The leading 4 then had a battle along the top reach and down the run with George managing to come out on top, Ian making his way through to 2nd with Paul slipping back to 3rd. The chasing bunch were starting to stretch out at Darren and Kian had found a way through and were now leading the chase. Jon Managed to roll Paul on the bottom reach to get himself up to 3rd by the end of the first lap. By the windward mark George was starting to stretch away as the pack behind him started to slow each other down. Paul had made his way back up to 2nd, Jon had slipped back to 3rd and Ian was now 4th. Darren and Kian had broken free of the chasing pack now and were trying to close the gap. Jon slipped back down the run and Darren caught him on the final reach to the finish. The order at the line was George, Paul, Ian, Darren, Jon followed by Kian. However there was a twist in the tail as Paul, Kian and Darren had all fallen foul of the black flag. This elevated Ian to 2nd and Jon to 3rd.
Starting under the black flag the fleet were definitely more cautious this time. With a split forming almost immediately which side would the leaders come from? The fleet was tightly bunched at the windward mark but it was Greg who rounded just in front of George with Paul, Darren and John Aston chasing the 2 leaders. After the reach and the run Darren had pulled through to lead with George 2nd and Greg slipping back to 3rd. George and Darren continued their battle on the upwind leg with George gaining the upper hand by the windward mark, Darren very close behind and then a small gap back to Paul and Greg who had in turn pulled away from the chasing pack. At the end of lap 2 George had pulled out a handy lead on Darren who has a handy gap back to Paul. On the final lap the positions remained static with George putting a loose cover on Darren and Paul trying to take advantage to close on the pair of them. All to no avail as the top 3 did not change.
So after a long day on the water and 4 races to the good meaning 6 had been completed the fleet were ahead of schedule. George took over the yellow jersey from Greg. The overall standings were far from cut and dried with any one of 5 people able to take the championship.
The fleet then retired to the Royal Torbay Yacht Club clubhouse for a sit down meal followed by the class AGM. At this point in time Steve Bolland decided to grace the fleet with his presence. Perhaps lured back by the promise of dinner or maybe the fact that the bar was open and he needed to boost the takings again. Stories vary as to what happened to him but it would appear he had a very good night but couldn’t remember much of it. Once the meal had finished the class moved on and held their AGM (the minutes of which will be available shortly).
Sunday dawned, bright and sunny and without even a breath of wind. Tor Bay was like a millpond as the early sailors arrived in search of breakfast. The fleet were giving the vibe that they either wanted the 2 remaining races to be sailed or for an early end to proceedings as some had long journeys ahead. A brief discussion with the PRO and a plan was formed. He was confident that there would be enough breeze by the time the first warning signal could be sounded. Cue a hive of activity in the dinghy park as boats were uncovered, sails hoisted. As boats were launched it was clear the PRO was correct and people hurried to get out to ensure they did not miss the start.
The fleet getting away cleanly and immediately splitting. Which side would pay today? The left had been the favoured side yesterday and with the wind from a similar direction would it pay today? At the windward mark the leading bunch had come from the left side of the course. Kian rounding in the lead with Greg in close company followed by George, Paul, Ian, Darren and Jon Bassett. This leading bunch had a handy gap back to the chasing pack. By the end of the lap Kian had pulled out a small gap from his pursuers and elected to loose cover them up the next beat. By the end of the beat Kian was still leading but with George now in 2nd, Greg slipping to 3rd. With positions staying fairly static now it looked set to be this way for the finish. George had other ideas and at the finish had almost overhauled Kian who just held on to take the bullet ahead of George with Paul coming home 3rd.
With everything still to play for the championship was going to be decided on the last race. With a second discard also kicking in the final podium slot was also still up fro grabs. If Paul could win and George have a bad race the tables could be turned. At the windward mark it was Steve Bolland who headed the fleet having gone hard left with the 2 championship contenders in close company behind him with Mandy Sweet not far back in 4th. George made no mistakes on the next 3 legs and by the end of them had pulled through to have a handy lead over Paul with Steve slipping back to 3rd having Mandy for close company. Up the next beat George went hard left, electing to not cover his rivals but to go in search of extra pressure. this seemed to pay off as by the windward mark he had extended away from the chasing bunch with Steve coming through to second, Paul in 3rd and Mandy still in touch in 4th. Paul elected to go right down the run, looking for something that would help him overhaul Steve and George. At the leeward mark the positions had not changed. With the just the short reach to the finish Paul somehow found a way past Steve with Mandy closing fast on the pair of but not quite making it.
Once the race team had done their magic it was clear that George Cousins had taken the title of D-Zero National Champions for 2017 with Paul Scullion the bridesmaid for the second year in a row and Kian Andrews rounding out the podium. What was also clear was that the Restronguet fleet is the strongest fleet in the country currently with their sailors taking 3 of the top 6 positions (we are told Kian is a Restronguet sailor on occasions). The rest of us are clearly going to have to up our game to get anywhere near them!
The fleet then gathered for prize giving with the entire prize haul being supplied by our title sponsor Harken. Phil Rumbelow, the Rear Commodore from the host club, said a few words and thanked the fleet for being well behaved both on and off the water (there are those in the fleet who would prefer a bit more mischief off that water though). The first prize awarded was to David Valentine from Emsworth Slipper which was based on the Speedwall rankings. The prize was awarded to the sailor whom the Class Chair and Sailracer felt deserved a boost in performance. David won a Harken Speed Computer to help log and analyse his speed over the water. The next prize was awarded for the furthest travelled. This was a joint prize won by Martin Latimer and Jon Bassett from Largs. The next prize was the ladies prize which was won by Mandy Sweet from Grafham Water who was our only lady this year. Mandy had a great series counting no results outside of the top 10 to give her 7th overall.
Then on to the main prizes with them being awarded down to 5th place for the general standing sand the ladies prize. Mandy Sweet from Grafham Water who was our only lady this year won the ladies prize. She had a great series counting no results outside of the top 10 to give her 7th overall. Ian Morgan from Netley surrendering his title and coming home in 5th and surely wishing their was more in the way of wind and waves, 4th went to Greg Bartlett from Starcross who had borrowed a boat for the event, 3rd to Kian Andrews from Penxance and Mounts Bay (and Restronguet), 2nd to Paul Scullion from Restronguet and the winner and 2017 National Champion George Cousins also from Restronguet.
With class chair Paul Jefferies thanking all at the host club and, in particular, the PRO Michael Currie and his team who managed to get in a full series of 8 races despite the forecast. thanks also go to Harken for being our title sponsor and providing the prizes and to Suntouched Sailboats for sponsoring the live tracking which was supplied by SailRacer.
The fleet all agreed that the weekend had been a great one with the glorious sunshine but and extra 5-10kts of wind would have made it perfect.
Full results can be found here: http://results.rtyc.org/hosted2017/dzero/dzeronat2017os.html
A photo album taken by the RTYC resident photographer can be found here: http://www.borderphotos2010.com/d-zero-nationals-rtyc.html