Last week we brought you what has been planned for off-the-water activities at the forthcoming Harken D-Zero National Championships at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (21-23 June). While we like to stress the importance of everyone having fun there’s also the small matter of who will be crowned National Champion come next Sunday.
While there’s always an unfancied dark horse lurking somewhere, ready to bolt out of the stables to put in a great run, on paper at least, the following are likely to be the main contenders.
- Dan Holman. Where do we start with Dan? This will be his first time back in the boat he designed since winning the first National Championship in 2015. A former Laser National Champion he was 2nd in the recent 505 Nationals as well as 6th in the International 14 Worlds last year. If he can remember how to hike he’ll definitely be there or thereabouts.
- Steve Bolland. Current National and Inland Champion and RS300 Champ. Nothing more than a one trick pony he has at least worked out how to make a single sail dinghy go fast. He’ll need to stay off the beer if he’s to emulate last year’s result.
- Alistair ‘Storky’ Mclaughlin. If there’s any boat this man has never sailed, from International Moth to Flying Dutchman, I’ve yet to see it. Came a close 2nd at the 2018 Championship after only a week in the boat so he’s unlikely to be any slower this time round. Amazingly slippery in light airs he’s not too shabby when the breeze is up either.
- Paul Jefferies. Class Chair, he pulled a rabbit out of the hat by coming 2nd at the recent Inlands, particularly excelling in the lighter airs on the second day. He’s taken delivery of a new boat since then so no pressure. One of the select band who’s competed in every Nationals so far.
- Tom Southwell. A product of the youth academy, poster boy and another one who’s a perennial entrant, Tom won the winter series and has twice podiumed at the Inlands. Looking to make the breakthrough on the rough stuff and it’ll come as no surprise if he does.
- Stacey Bray. A former top Tasar and Contender helm, 5th at last year’s Championship and looking to go even better this time round. If we sail out in the bay he’ll be one to watch especially.
- John Aston. Another of the 100% club, John was a race winner at the Champs last year and was very quick in the medium breeze of the middle day. His green/azure/teal (delete as appropriate) hull is likely to be seen at the sharp end of the fleet.
- If it’s windy then we know Gavin Fleming and Niel Ritchie can sail a bit. They were both swift in the strong winds at the Inlands and Gavin followed this up with a 4th at the Scottish Champs. Gavin won the Rossendale open in April (another windy one).
- Dark horse. Could it be triple world champion Nigel Austin? Or one of the Cornish fleet who are rumoured to be considering a late entry. They are leaving it very late though. Or Tom Whitehead from the other end of the country who had some top results at the Scottish champs before calling it a day.
Others to watch include UK Dealer, David Valentine, who’ll be resplendent in his bacofoil wetsuit if it’s a bit nippy, and probably even if it isn’t he loves it that much. Also watch out for Liz Potter, owner of ‘Zippy Zero’ who is going quicker all the time and the owner of a brand new mast. If you do anything remotely idiotic in her sight you know you’re going to be in the papers the following morning. https://www.d-zerosailing.org/category/zippy-zero-blog/