Designer Dan – “At 54 boats, the 2021 RSK D-Zero Nationals – Largs SC – fleet was the largest collection of D-Zeros seen at our Nationals to date, and it is a testament to the energy of the class organisation and individuals in the Largs fleet that this years event was 30% up on entries. Further testament to the strength of the Scottish fleets was that approximately 75% of all Zeros delivered north of the border were in attendance” 

The size of the entry was swelled by some real talent including Nick Craig (multiple world, European and National title holder), Steve Bolland (Past D-zero and multi- RS300 Champ), Gavin Fleming (inland champ), Ian Baillie (RS300 past champ), Jon Shelley (Musto Skiff hot shot), Arran Holman (470 British Sailing Team Helm, 29er and Laser 4.7 hot shot) and the usual array of experienced and very fast D-Zero regulars. Rumour has it the Mr Craig had even been out practising with Tom Southwell, so his claim of being a bit rusty was probably rather exaggerated! 

Photo Copyright Tim Olin

Friday’s forecast was not looking too great on any weather app, with light airs from the east off the hills but the PRO, David Kent, held his nerve watching the wind swing from 90 degrees to 180 only to swing back to an oscillating 100 degrees with windspeeds varying from 8-18kts. A sign of the keen racing to come was set by class chair Paul Jefferies showing his excitement by being well over the line (right in front of the race teams eagle eyes!). At the front of the fleet a pattern was already evolving with Dan dictating the pace and Nick Craig hot on his heels with Gavin Fleming (Hunts SC)  showing good speed to come3rd. Race two was another breezy affair ….  the conditions were holding and the fleet was excited, too excited, as the majority were over line and line on the first attempt. David Kent, never one to get ruffled and recognising the good humour and manners of the fleet restarted without a black flag …. The fleet responded with a clean start and proceeded up a shifty and gusty beat into some building waves and onto a great reach and tactical run. Dan led again but this time Joel Walker, GWSC, took an excellent second, with Nick Craig in third place. Gavin Fleming booked his discard with a 6th. After racing few beers were enjoyed ashore before the barbeque  and yet more beers (for many) wich fuelled the stories of hard working beats, telling shifts, a few spills and many fast reaches … the fleet loves a blast on its favoured quadrilateral courses.

Photo Copyright Tim Olin

An early start on Saturday saw not too many hangovers and some encouraging breeze, we’ll not mention the liquid sunshine!. It was to be another two surprisingly breezy and exciting races being run just off the club – much to the surprise of the fleet who had seen forecasts for depressingly light winds. Race three and the fleet was keen, even more keen than on Friday and the fleet was finally away on the 3rd attempt with a prompt, under a U flag, from the PRO that it was time to behave as he wanted to get three races in before the wind died. The right side was looking good, but in truth stars were born across the whole course. Showing that the D-Zero can carry all weights in varying wind strengths lightweight Dan led at the finish with lofty Nick coming second and lofty & heavier local man Jon Shelley coming through to 3rd and showing he can hike as well as the best of them, – even if he’s normally inclined to hanging from a wire in a corset! It was tight racing throughout the bulk of the fleet. Race four was started in a little less breeze, and with a tide pushing the fleet towards the line caution was the order of the day. The lighter wind was a warning of what was to come. Dan again controlled the race but Jono Shelley was pushing hard and the lighter Arran Holman was showing some great form. Nick Craig wasn’t getting it all his own way and finished 4th . Finishing order was 1st – Dan Holman, 2nd Jono Shelley and 3rd  Arran Holman. With an even lighter forecast for Sunday the PRO was keen to get a third race in for the day, but it wasn’t to be as the wind died to less than two knots – racing over for the day. In true D-Zero tradition race three turned into a race for the shore and a few beers at the bar – amazing how fast the mid-fleet and after-guard can be when the bar summons! The beach master and his team did a great job of getting all the boats and their thirsty helms ashore quickly …. Thanks guys.

Sunday morning awoke to a glassy sea and a lonely committee boat out sussing the chances of getting any racing started at all. There was brief excitement aboard the committee boat when the hi-tech on board instruments saw a gust of 1.5 knots – only for the team to realise it was caused by the rock of the boat as a few of the crew reached across the boat to get their mugs of tea! …… by 12.00 David Kent made an early call to abandon racing giving those who had travelled a good distance a chance to get home early. 

Photo Copyright Tim Olin

Congratulations go to Dan Holman for yet another well-deserved National Championship win, to Nick Craig for a not unexpected fight to gain 2nd place and to local man Jono Shelley who showed great form to take 3rd place by one point from Arran Holman both, as with Dan, in boats loaned by class members who could not attend the Nationals.

Thanks go to RSK Group Director, and none to shabby D-Zero sailor, John Bassett for arranging sponsorship and some great prizes and to Sir Boyd Tunnock for agreeing to sponsor the live tracking and for a huge pile tasty Tunnocks product – food of champions! The class stumped up the cash to hireTim Olin to capture some great shots 

The standout points of the event were how friendly the class can be, how the top guys share knowledge so easily with the lower placed sailors, how the boats carry wide range of weights (this year from 55kg to 110kg) and that the age of the boat does not affect performance (Dan was in a 7yr old boat).  Sailors attending ranged from as young as 16 right up to 60 somethings men and ladies. Thanks to the people who travelled from as all point of the UK – Aberdeen to Porthpean in the South-West

Photo Copyright Tim Olin

The question remains would Storky, who had a bit of a health scare just before the regatta, have pedalled his boat as fast as Jono – we think he might just have … the 2022 Nationals at Brixham will be he chance to shine .No doubt Storky was probably putting himself under just as much stress watching the fun, but we look forward to seeing Storky back fighting fit next year.   

So to we leave it to Champion Dan Holman to summarise the proceedings “we only got half of the scheduled races in but the overall sentiment was that we beat the forecast, and great racing was had throughout the fleet in all of the races. It was great to see the hot shots not having it all their own way, with several established D Zero sailors consistently getting right in amongst it at the sharp end of the fleet. The rain was tolerable and more than made up for by an abundance of Tunnocks Teacakes, porpoises (although I didn’t see any), and some pre-launch bagpiping (N.B. this is not a euphemism.) Bring on next year in Brixham in June, come and get involved”

Photo Copyright Tim Olin

Overall Results

Sailed: 4, Discards: 1, To count: 3, Rating system: PY, Entries: 54, Scoring system: Appendix A

1stDan HOLMANGBR119Netley SC (1.0)
2ndNick CRAIGGBR310Burghfield SC/Lee on Solent SC
3rdJono SHELLEYGBR22Largs SC (5.0)
4thArran HOLMANGBR7Hollowell SC 4.04.0(7.0)
5thJoel WALKERGBR110Grafham Water SC (6.0)
6thGavin FLEMINGGBR183Hunts SC 3.0(6.0)
7thNiel RITCHIEGBR326Aberdeen and Stonehaven YC (11.0)
8thJon BASSETTGBR306Largs SC 8.010.0(27.0)
9thTom SOUTHWELLGBR328Lee on Solent SC 9.0(12.0)
10thDavid VALENTINEGBR66Emsworth Slipper SC (15.0)
11thBilly MCCARLIEGBR265Largs SC>6017.09.0(22.0)
12thJonathan BRIGGSGBR215Largs SC 7.0(17.0)
13thWil HITCHMANGBR307Ogston SC 18.0(33.0)
14thGavin HOMERGBR106Dalgety Bay SC 16.08.0(21.0)
15thSteve BOLLANDGBR11Bristol Corinthinan YC (21.0)
16thRhodri THOMASGBR148Dalgety Bay SC
17thJames JENKINSGBR151Emsworth SC 13.016.0(19.0)
18thPaul JEFFERIESGBR74Hunts SC (29.0)
19thTim WEEDENGBR312Emsworth Slipper SC>6019.019.016.0(23.0)77.054.0
20thKeith SHARPGBR283Largs SC>60(40.0)
21stRichard BRYANTGBR189Annandale SC 10.034.0(38.0)18.0100.062.0
22ndMartin LATIMERGBR57Largs SC>60(32.0)
23rdPeter JENKINSGBR173Emsworth SC 14.024.0(33.0)
24thAndrew SPENCERGBR150Blithfield SC 23.018.0(25.0)
25thGordon STEWARTGBR181North Herts and East Beds SC

Full Results at –

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Photos by Tim Olin


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