John Aston at the Hunts Open. Photo Copyright Nikky Evans

On the 9th April 2017 the D-Zero fleet gather for their second open meeting of the year at Hunts SC. There was a full turn out of the local fleet, which has recently hit double figures, along with 5 visitors from as far away as Emsworth Slipper SC and Netley SC. Early morning fog greeted the early arrivals with barely a breath of wind. The forecast was for the fog to clear and the wind to fill in to a fairly steady 5-7 kts. By 10 am the fog had cleared but had taken any hint of breeze with it. RO for the day Colin Hall has set a course where the wind was before is disappeared and cheerfully announced that we would be starting on time…

Paul Jefferies at the Hunts Open. Photo Copyright Nikky Evans

Race 1

With the wind just starting to fill back in the decision was to go for the correct end of the line or go for the pin and find clear air. John Aston chose the pin and came out on top and was followed by Tom Southwell (who started closer to the committee boat end) with local sailor and fleet newcomer Gary Tompkins showing some good light wind speed to complete the top 3. Behind them the fleet was fairly bunched up but well enough behaved at the marks to avoid any discussion.

As the race went on the wind filled in from a more southerly direction make the long beat a simple enough fetch. Another local sailor in the shape of Paul Jefferies (coincidentally also your roving reporter) managed to sneak past Gary in to 3rd and the pair of them, being joined by Mike Gifford, set about trying to catch the 2 leaders.

Mike managed to get past Gary and was then pressuring Paul for the final podium spot in race 1. Paul also manged to gain an overlap of Tom on a couple of occasions as the front of the fleet closed up. No one managed to get the upper hand over the boats in front though and it remain John, Tom, Paul and Mike at the finish with Gary losing touch a little in 5th.

After the mental intensity of race 1 the fleet the broke for a leisurely lunch in the sunshine. Over lunch the wind filled in but was regularly swinging around 90 degrees making the setting of the course problematic for the race team.

With the course duly reset the fleet set afloat for race 2 in the oscillating southerly which had filled in to allow hiking at times.

Nigel Austin at the Hunts Open. Photo Copyright Nikky Evans

Race 2

With the fleet in sequence the wind decided it was was for a shift to the east making crossing the line on starboard problematic and left some thinking a port flyer was the order of the day. Your roving reporter found a gap in the starboard boats and broke clear up the first beat being pursued by John and Tom. At the windward mark they rounded in the order in close company and thoughts of another close race for the win were in peoples minds.

Over the next 3 legs Paul manged to escape the battle John and Tom a little and was able to go wind hunting up the beat rather than worry about the boats behind him. This paid of handsomely as he found a stronger puff just shy of the windward mark and planed off to the second mark and carried the speed off down the run never to be seen again by his pursuers.

The only issue he faced was coming across the entire Enterprise fleet rafted up at one of the marks later on in the race. He skillfully (or luckily) managed to maintain some speed to sail all the way around the outside at the mark to pass the whole lot in 1 go.

Behind him John and Tom were playing tactically with each other. This allowed Nigel Austin to sneak through in to second and another local sailor Jon Cowper coming through the complete the podium for race 2. Tom did get the upper hand over John to cross the line in 4th with Mike sneaking between them. This mean it was all to play for in race 3 with any one of 3 sailors able to take the open with a good result in the final race.

The fleet heading downind. Photo Copyright Nikky Evans

Race 3

With thought of glory seemingly getting the better of your roving reporter he found himself over at the start and struggling to get back. John Aston had a great start and led the fleet at the windward mark.

Much of what happened through the race became a blur but at the front John has got a small advantage over Mike with Nigel and Gary in pursuit of them. Behind them was a pack of boats who were constantly tripping over each other trying to get an advantage (and generally slowing each other down).

At the end of the race John took the gun to win both the final race and the event with Mike coming home second and Nigel coming home 3rd.

A quick bit of maths later and the top 3 were John Aston from Grafham, Paul Jefferies flying the flag for the home fleet in 2nd and Nigel Austin from Cransley coming home 3rd. Abby Freeley was the 1st lady coming home 10th overall. A special mention must be made of Louise Foreman who is probably one the the least experienced sailors in the D-Zero fleet and with support and encouragement of her fellow fleet members raced her boat for the first time last weekend and joined in race 2. Full results can be found below.

Photos courtesy of Nikky Evans can be found by clicking here (Facebook link).

The next event for the class is the Shotwick SC Open, more details can be found on the class events page by clicking here.

Full results:

Rank SailNo Helm Club R1 R2 R3 Nett
1st 3 John Aston Grafham Water SC 1.0 (6.0) 1.0 2.0
2nd 188 Paul Jefferies Hunts SC 3.0 1.0 (8.0) 4.0
3rd 191 Nigel Austin Cransley SC (7.0) 2.0 3.0 5.0
4th 193 Mike Gifford Hunts SC 4.0 (5.0) 2.0 6.0
5th 217 Tom Southwell Netley SC 2.0 4.0 (10.0) 6.0
6th 42 Jon Cowper Hunts SC 6.0 3.0 (7.0) 9.0
7th 158 Gary Tompkins Hunts SC 5.0 (7.0) 4.0 9.0
8th 54 Ed Deacon Hunts SC (11.0) 9.0 5.0 14.0
9th 108 Graham Cox Hunts SC (8.0) 8.0 6.0 14.0
10th 183 Abby Freeley Hunts SC 9.0 10.0 (11.0) 19.0
11th 66 Dave Valentine Emsworth Slipper SC (13.0) 11.0 9.0 20.0
12th 171 Ed Harley Hunts SC 10.0 13.0 (14.0) 23.0
13th 181 Gordon Stewart North Herts & East Beds SC (12.0) 12.0 12.0 24.0
14th 119 Steve Lane Hunts SC (14.0) 14.0 13.0 27.0
15th 118 Louise Foreman Hunts SC (16.0 DNS) 16.0 DNF 16.0 DNC 32.0