David Valentine, GBR66 and D-Zero UK Dealer reports:
And I would (drive) 500 miles…
After a successful D-Zero demonstration to 5 local sailors in F2 and sunny conditions on the Friday afternoon and evening, some early travellers met in the bar for a welcome curry/chilli and a beer (or two) and chatted on the expected conditions for the weekend. The start of the hospitality and friendly banter began…
Saturday morning awoke to sun and blue skies, hold on, am I sure this is Scotland? And a light breeze was building over the next hour or so.
8 of the 9 Scottish D-Zero sailors were joined by another 5 travellers including Gordon Stewart from Herts and your raving reporter Slipper Dave from D-Zero HQ near Portsmouth, plus several potential D-Zero sailors were looking to sail the D-Zero demo for a race each, so 14 were lined up on the slipway as the wind had built a little more and the sun/blue skies hung on !
Plenty of banter as to who was going to lead, Dave Woods already jumping the line in his blue boat and that was just on the slipway as photos were taken and the paparazzi accumulated.
A short reach out to the start line, with a triangle/sausage course planned, and as many laps as 40ish minutes would allow. First start beckoned and we were away clean, having been warned of Flag Uniform (look it up for the uninitiated as we had to !!) if we misbehaved, though Niel got over-excited within 3 seconds of the gun going and let go of his main sheet pulling the D-Zero to windwards, pirouetting a neat 360, narrowly missing said raving reporter who was obviously higher n faster above (my report, my words). Taking a spill, Niel had to chase us from the back of the pack. The comfortable F3 mallowed the D-Zero to scorch up the course, through some light waves. Rossendale Dave (not to be confused with Slipper Dave) and Prestwick Tom were challenging for the lead, with me chasing hard just behind, close racing. As I rounded the leeward mark for our last sausage in 3rd, I picked the left hand side of the course whilst Rossendale Dave and Tom went right, and apparently the right always works except when its left (with even the local boys being caught out), and found myself at the windward mark in the lead, rounded cleanly against a strong tide and held my own down to leeward, round the mark and a short sprint to the finish. So, where do I go from here, having taken the bullet ??
Race 2 underway in similar conditions, allowing the D-Zero to be perfectly powered up, keeping it flat for speed (ignore the photos, must have been camera angle for some). Niel ahead on the start and I was a little wary to be honest, though as the gun went Rossendale Dave crossing the fleet from port by a nose – a slight bias, and Niel tacked away leaving me a clear channel up the left hand side – it worked last time so I hung on. Clean tacking and flat trim/balance were working well. Niel, Rossendale Dave and Scammonden James were still on the right, and then James came across to the left. The wind was building a little, though the small chop was building as well.
Dave was ahead at the leeward mark and expecting a reach to the finish, when the RO decided we needed another round, and I charged after him. Everyone else went right again and by the windward I was 100m ahead of James who had taken the higher pressure though stronger tide right option.
Just the downwind to survive then, and James was catching quickly – post race look at mast chocks and his rig was slightly more upright than mine, though I had enough to get me to the finish again taking the bullet. James, Niel and Dave followed having taken a chunk out of my lead.
Race 3 after a slight delay as the wind had swung and built, as had the waves, so the course was rejigged.
The wind had built to a good F4 maybe 5 and the chop had changed to a confused sea up to 1m wave. Behaving well on the starts, we were away cleanly, and I chased my left hand favourite, though the higher pressure on the right was working well it seemed, though others had followed me left this time, as we battled through the triangle course, changing places as we tacked, and Largs Jon joining the front runners. I was running in a close 123 formation with Niel and Dave ahead of me just, though with an upwind leg to go so I had chances, when looking at my controls and not out of the boat I stuffed the nose into a wave and binned it to windward. Thinking I had some gap behind me, I tried to right as it continued sailing down the leg, though as I dived in, there must of been a huge gust (not the extra pie on board) and it went in again, quick swim and back up, chasing hard from now 14th. I’m sure I heard laughs as they all went past … (As if I would have done that !?)
Working the boat hard back up the beat, I came round mid fleet, and managed to sneak past a couple to end 7th (that’ll be my discard thought I !!)
Niel had worked hard and took the bullet, chased down by Rossendale Dave, Jon and Tom.
Race 4 and we hung for a bit whilst some of the skiffs cooled down in the water as the wind and sea had built even more. Pushing hard up the beats, trying to work the triangular chop out – there was no set pattern (oh yes there was – argues local Largs Martin), no roll over the waves though plenty of slam and snorkelling.
Largs Martin came into his own and relished in the obviously usual conditions and pushed Niel and Rossendale Dave. I was fighting the conditions and had to contend with Rossendale Mick, Largs Glen who were joining the party at the front and lots of changes throughout the course. Niel hung on with a shortened course of triangle sausage taking the win with Dave and Martin following in. I followed in 6th.
Returning to the slipway in steeper waves, places were up for “Muppet of the Day” as some jumped out due to the abandonment of Musto Skiffs and Vortex (or is it Vorti maybe ?) And upon jumping found it was deeper than thought and very slippy in the kelp. Some tried to write off their D-Z’s by heading for the rocks, others tried to ram the patrol boats easily done when you’re not in the boat. However some good tired-leg swimming and all was recovered. The fun continued…
The demo boat racers had done well in their first time out in the D-Zero, believe it was 7th, 12th, 1st (we’ll ignore Cool Hand Hugh as that result must have been a fluke, especially as he rolled a ciggie waiting for us to finish) and another mid fleet result. Just shows the D-Zero works, its all about the sailor! Anyway I digress…
Overnight, Niel had 2 wins, a 3rd and an 11th to discard. Rossendale Dave had 3 solid 2nd places and a 4th to discard, whilst Slipper Dave (raving reporter) ran in 3rd with 2 wins and a 6th, discarding my 7th (which could have been worse). All to play for on day 2.
Muppet of the day was yet to be confirmed although Ballerina Niel had put in a great effort with an on-line capsize in race 1 – could anyone beat it! My capsize whilst up the front was a consideration…
Largs hospitality followed the shower, warmup and rigging/technical chat in the boatpark. GJW Direct had kindly sponsored the whole event which enabled some welcome liquid refreshments and a hot pie and beans (or those funny peas in a mush if you really wanted) – so remember the good those insurers do when you’re next renewing!
A break whilst those staying organised their beds and maybe a sneaky kip, and then back for some Bitter n Twisted (an appropriately named beer) and a even more welcome two types of curry or Cajun chicken. There was no hold up on the banter, and a great evening was had amongst plenty of yawns, though one thing for certain the welcome at Largs was great.
Early nights for some, the whiskies held for another time (maybe ?) And thoughts of the next day where the forecast was heavier winds and a swing to the east maybe which produced all sorts of predictions.
Breakfast in the clubhouse, and Avril took charge of my nutrition plans advising my previous days healthy choccie milk, banana, porridge, sultanas and honey was not how they do it in Scotland, so bacon (no fried Mars Bar in the Healthy Option!), eggs and a tattie scone (the description was vastly different to the taste and was well worth the try) were the order of the day ! Very tasty and did the job masking the few beers from the previous night, though sneaked in my choccie milk though!
The racing was planned for a 1030 start, and the D-Zeroísts were reminded that they had their start in 20 minutes and we were all still chatting on the slipway. Fortunately a large slipway enabled many to get away quickly with help from the trolley volunteers. In the good F5+, we scorched across to the race course in minutes, and set ourselves to get ready.
The RO had asked whether all was ok and a 45degree wing mark was requested to enjoy those great D-Zero reaches, and maybe just the traingle sausage would suffice today please
Race 5 kicked off with a more easterly course punching the wind hard. Herts Gordon fancied some of the front runner action, working well in the breeze and chop – think it was also the new 45 deg reach that made it, and was rounding in 4th place, with Niel and Tom leading me round in 3rd. Gordon had given us all the “oh my bad back” excuse the night before, though it didnt seem to be bothering him in the boat. Excuse No.1 from GS remembered !! However back on the course, Jon was not far behind though some were finding it tough in the breeze – it was a big cunningham day. The sausage wasnt really looked forward to however at least the races would be sub 30 mins. Niel took the win with Tom in 2nd and me following in 3rd, with a smiling Gordon still chasing in 4th.
Race 6 and the wind strengthened, Niel took some irony after purchasing a new kicker strop the night before and guess what as it was still in his tool box so he whittled a new sort of strop whilst we readied ourselves and the Mustos pulled themselves up from a swim. Already the Vortex had decided to not use their kites, what ? I hear you say, chuck the kite over the side then if its not being used. Apparently the bows dig in when you go forward to drop. The D-Zero just relishes the conditions and even with some snorkelling the bow pops up easily and with a rush of water you’re back on your way. There had been some attrition during Races 5 and 6 it seemed as only a few lined up/finished. Jamie lost his chocs (Not sure if it was a Mars or ??), Tom lost his Halyard, Martin injured his arm and missed his best weather and Largs Glen found common sense. No big issues but it really was full on – though such fun! The 45 degree reach was just fantastic as the D-Zero just ripped away and big grins could be seen across the fleet as we shot down the 2 legs.
Niel had got away (as well as laughing) after I touched the windward mark and had to do some turns (fortunately only one as had been agreed by the skiffs on the Saturday – thanks guys) nearly letting Jon through as well. Though I held on and took 2nd following Niel with Jon and Rossendale Dave following in 3rd and 4th respectively.
Race 7 and the RO advised it would be the last race, so all was still to play for. Niel had a good lead with 4 wins, though the next few places were up for grabs. The right hand side was working well today it seemed despite more tide, the wind was certainly there, though the left still played well avoiding some waves and getting plenty of drive.
Niel had spent a few minutes playing with his lashed up kicker and was doubtful of his inclusion in the last race – think he was just ribbing us ??
With only 7 on the course (next training sesh in big winds – paid dividends with one we did with George National Champ), we roared off the line, splitting the fleet at first then all going left. Largs Jon had got the bit between his teeth and was pushing Niel hard.
Places swapped about mid fleet, with Niel leading nicely. Those thinking we were just to do a traingle sausage were mistaken including me, as we were sent for at least another triangle however with pain comes reward and at least we had 2 more legs of fast reaching – so not all bad. A last push up the beats and use up your leg energy – I only had 500 miles to drive home so might as well be properly tired. A great blast down the reach, super fast gybes, and another grin making run to the finish. Niel took the gun, followed by Jon, then me and Dave back in the frame.
Thanks also to the Race team, patrol crews, hospitality team, Martin for getting everyone cajoled and interested from the outset, and the general Scot hospitality throughout the weekend. So, a Nationals here in 2020 ?? I’ll leave that for you to decide but I would (drive) 500 miles so…
The Largs D-Zero event is already confirmed for next year as 18th/ 19th May 2019
Overall results were as follows:
1st Niel Ritchie
2nd David Valentine
3rd Dave Woods
4th Jon Bassett
5th Tom Whitehead
Full results can be found by clicking here.
Other prizes were awarded as follows:
Muppet of the Day – a prize of a Wind In”dic”ator – went to Niel Ritchie, despite many other events, the start capsize pirouette sequence couldn’t be beaten !
Most improved sailor – a rare DZero shirt – went to Gordon Stewart
Furthest traveller – a beautiful bottle of Glenlivet – went to David Valentine, well worth the 1000 miles !
Roll on next year ! I’ll be there …