The long weekend of the 24th to 26th June saw an entry of 41 D-Zeros gather at Highcliffe Sailing Club for their 2016 National Championships. With the weather forecast seeming to be all over the place right up until the eve of the event it was not clear whether the conditions would favour the pondies or the sea sailors in the fleet.As Friday dawned and competitors started to arrive and populate the green there was the usual fleet banter and people casting their eyes over the latest rigging tweaks with particular attention being paid to traveller tension and the variations that people have adopted. All too soon it was time for briefing. Our PRO Alan Tarrant advise we would be sailing a 15-20 min sail to the west of the club out in Christchurch Bay and we would have course A (triangle – sausage – triangle).

As launch time approached it was clear the forecast of F4 gusting F5 was pretty accurate much to the sea sailors delight as, with wind over tide, there were definitely waves. In conditions that many of the fleet were describing as epic the 40 boats that launched were keen to get going. A little too keen it would seem and 2 general recalls later out came the black flag and race 1 finally got underway.

Packed start line. Photo Copyright Sarah Desjonqueres

Race 1

With the black flag having the desired effect race 1 finally got underway. It was clear from the off that those with sea experience were going to have a significant advantage. Ian Morgan from Hill Head gave the fleet a wave sailing masterclass and won by a big margin from Gaz Henshall from Shotwick Lake also showing his sea sailing credentials with Iain Horlock from Exe SC completing the podium.

Throughout the fleet it was a tale of snakes and ladder for many people. with multiple boats capsized and sailors sampling the warm waters of Christchurch Bay there was an opportunity for a good result if you could keep the boat upright. Sadly your roving reporter was one of the many to take an extended swim shortly after hitting warp 9 on the top reach with the boat singing happily and absolutely flying. Definite massive grin factor.

The conditions did take their toll though with 5 boats not finishing and a few deciding to save their energy for for the following day and 1 heading for shore with a broken traveller.

Race 2

Race 2 got underway in similar conditions and with the tide in full ebb the waves had built even more. Ian again managed to sneak out in front and had a good lead when he too showed that even the wave masters make mistakes and had a swim himself. Unfortunately for Gaz it was too short to enable him to get ahead and Ian took the bullet followed by Gaz and Paul Scullion from Restronguet SC.

The conditions were taking their toll on the fleet with the rescue teams having their hands full as the flat water contingent wishing they had put in more practice or were fitter. With more sailors heading for shore during the race there were 25 finishers to race 2. As the fleet headed home and recovered a small mystery presented itself. Why was Class Sec Russ Hopkins sailing Jon Copwers boat and where was his own boat and where was Jon? It turned out that Russ had an issue with his rudder and Jon had become too tired to sail in having had an extended swim so Russ was dropped in Jons boat to sail it ashore and Jon in Russ’ with the words ‘We will come and get you shortly’ from the rescue team. Unfortunately shortly turned out to be a bit longer than expected and Jon found himself on the beach and safe but about 2 miles from where the trollies were. I am sure he was pleased when the rescue RIB came to get him and bought him safely home.

With the fleet safely back ashore there were many tales of awesome reaches, scary gybes and just trying to keep the boat from running into the back of waves on the run, definitely a day that rewarded technique.

The fleet then gathered in the Highcliffe clubhouse for the free pint that was laid on by Suntouched Sailboats followed by an excellent evening meal. With that the fleet retired wearily to bed.

Photo Copyright Sarah Desjonqueres

Saturday dawned and with a much lighter forecast slowly building through the day and Christchurch bay looking flatter people were keen to get going. The course of the day was a 2 lap trapezoid course and VR Sport Media were on site to film alongside the club own photographer. The green was busy with those who had issues the day before getting sorted. Thanks to the efforts of Suntouched Sailboats and the generosity of other people in the fleet 40 boats made their way out for the start of day 2.

Race 3

Race 2 started in light conditions and the leading pack elected to go left with a small contingent electing to go right to try and minimise the tide effect. 3/4 of the way up the first beat the wind shut down almost completely as a large black shower cloud approached. This left those who went left a little stranded as the tide was still flooding and those on the right sitting pretty as the wind filled back in.

As the race progressed it was clear that the overnight leader was not going to have things all his own way as Paul Scullion took the bullet followed by Stuart Jones from Datchet in his patched up boat following a collision in race 1 and John Aston from Grafham completing the podium spots.

Race 4

Race 4 got under as the tide was turning and the wind building. This led to waves starting to build again and were clearly to the liking of Ian who had a much better race but could not overhaul Paul who took his second bullet of the day with Rob Lennox from Barnt Green completing the podium spots.

With the wind building and the water still being relatively flat this meant that the pond sailors of the fleet were showing much better. Would this remain the same for Race 5 with the tide now ebbing and the wind picking up even more?

Race 5

As race 5 got underway it was clear that the wave pattern was starting to establish itself again meaning conditions would again favour the sea sailing contingent. So it proved to be with Ian getting himself out in front and taking his 3rd bullet of the event. With Rob lennox coming home second and Iain completing the podium. Paul could only manage 4th which blunted his challenge to Ian a little meaning he would have to have a perfect final day with Ian hitting issues. All was to play for with the final podium spot with any one of Gaz, Rob and Iain able to take it and several others close behind who could sneak in if they had a good day.

With the racing over the fleet gathered in the clubhouse at Highcliffe for another welcome pint courtesy of Suntouched Sailboats followed by another excellent meal and the class AGM.

Photo Copyright Sarah Desjonqueres

Sunday dawned and there were many weary sailors on the green after 2 days of hard racing. The question is would the wind be as forecast or would it be stronger? Could Paul have a good day and overhaul Ian? Looking out across the bay and standing on the shore it was clear to many that the wind was stronger than the forecast. With a 10.30 start for race 6 the fleet launched and headed off out in to the bay.

Race 6 

Race 6 started cleanly and it was clear that going right was the way to go up the first beat as the leading pack emerged. Some of those more used to being in the mid fleet found themselves up amongst the leader. None more so than Dave Woods from Rossendale Valley who found himself in 3rd for much of the race only slipping back to 6th towards the end of the race. Stuart Jones showed his face at the front of the fleet again showing that the temporary hull repair was not slowing him down in any way at all as he took the bullet followed by Dan Wigmore from Grafham who was getting to grips with the boat and showing some great speed. Ian came home 3rd to boost his title winning chances and with Paul only managing a 7th a good result in Race 7 would see Ian win the title with a race to spare.

Race 7

Race 7 started as the wind shifted round to the north. This led to a general recall and the appearance of the black flag, no second chances today! With the wind building more and the waves starting to establish themselves there were some very tired legs as the fleet set off for the penultimate race. Iain Horlock showed the fleet the way round to take the bullet with Ian and Paul fighting it out to complete the podium. Paul got the better of Ian with them finishing second and 3rd but this was enough for Ian to secure the event with a race to spare. Gaz Henshall posted a 4th and with Iains race win this meant the final podium spot was still up for grabs.

Race 8

With a couple of people heading for shore it was a slightly depleted fleet that started the final race. Ian elected to stay out though as the waves had now built along with the wind meaning conditions were definitely to his liking. he duly delivered and wrapped up his race series with a win. With Gaz coming home second this was enough secure him the final podium spot with Paul coming home 3rd and Iain managing 4th.

Overall this meant Ian Morgan is the Suntouched D-Zero National Champion for 2016 and has earned the right to use number 1 for the next 12 months.

Photo Copyright Sarah Desjonqueres

At the prize giving newly elected Class Chair Paul Jefferies thanked Highcliffe for putting on a great event for the class and keeping the fleet fed and watered and for their help in with weeks and months leading up to the championships. Thanks also went to Suntouched Sailboats for their excellent support of the class, not just in sponsorship but in getting everyone who has issues on Friday back on the water. Finally to Harken Poland who supplied a generous box of prizes meaning no one went away empty handed and to the guys from VR Sport Media who have done an excellent job filming days 2 and 3.

Ian went on the thank the club for running a great event, the class for their hard work, Suntouched Sailboats for their excellent support and all the sponsors for the generous prize pot.

Next up for the D-Zero class is the Lord Birkett at Ullswater on the 2nd/3rd July which is part of the D-Zero Northern Tour followed by a Training and Open Meeting at Hill Head on the 23rd/24th July with the next big class event being the Inland Championships at Grafham Water on the 10th/11th September 2016 where a large entry is expected partly down to the large home fleet and partly down to people already indicating that they will be travelling.

For the full results please click here, a summary is shown below:

Rank SailNo HelmName Club Nett
1st 156 Ian Morgan Hill Head SC 9.0
2nd 105 Paul Scullion Restronguet SC 15.0
3rd 185 Gareth Henshall Shotwick lake SC 20.0
4th 9 Iain Horlock Exe SC 23.0
5th 195 Rob Lennox Barnt Green SC 30.0
6th 136 Stuart Jones Datchet SC 31.0
7th 192 David Summerville Grafham Water SC 39.0
8th 2 Steve Bolland Bristol Corinthian YC 41.0
9th 3 John Aston Grafham Water SC 50.0
10th 184 Gordon Bennell Shotwick Lake SC 51.0
11th 186 Tim Weeden Emsworth Slipper SC 64.0
12th 119 Russ Hopkins Tewkesbury SC 66.0
13th 7 Dan Wigmore Grafham Water SC 73.0
14th 178 Tom Southwell Hill Head SC 75.0
15th 179 Mike Corney Queen Mary SC 77.0
16th 71 Neil Washington Grafham Water SC 79.0
17th 143 Mike Pridham Isle of Man SC 93.0
18th 139 Ed Dyer Royal Southern YC 98.0
19th 175 Dave Woods Rossendale Valley SC 99.0
20th 66 David Valentine Emsworth Slipper SC 109.0
21st 104 Richard Argall Restronguet SC 123.0
22nd 188 Paul Jefferies Hunts SC 124.0
23rd 208 James Edmund Queen Mary SC 129.0
24th 172 Ben Stevens Grafham Water SC 134.0
25th 42 Jon Cowper Hunts SC 136.0
26th 141 David Bartlett Starcross SC 138.0
27th 174 Graham Cooper South Cerney SC 142.0
28th 110 Toby Peacock Chew Valley SC 143.0
29th 181 Gordon Stewart North Herts & East Beds SC 143.0
30th 114 Simon Hindley Restronguet SC 144.0
31st 191 Nigel Austin Cransley SC 148.0
32nd 202 Jeremy Cooper Shotwick Lake SC 149.0
33rd 124 Paul Murphy Grafham Water SC 151.0
34th 190 Robert Campbell Cransley SC 168.0
35th 170 Seb Prowse Queen Mary SC 171.0
36th 182 Mick Green Rossendale Valley SC 186.0
37th 121 Scott Derham Emsworth Slipper SC 214.5
38th 193 Kevin Moll Hunts SC 216.0
39th 177 Alistair Hill Grafham Water SC 220.0
40th 194 Stewart Holford Cransley SC 238.5
41st 53 Rodney Cobb Bosham SC 335.0