It was a mild October weekend and the DZeros were beginning to gather for the end of season Northern Championships at Yorkshire Dales SC. This report is brought to you by Zippy Zero, one of the boats competing at this fine annual event.
The high winds forecasted had put off several potential entries, but my Owner (Liz Potter) and the Class Chairman (Paul Jefferies) had arrived early on the Friday afternoon to avoid the traffic and decided to set off for a delightful sunset cruise around the lake perimeter to count the buoys and check that they’d rigged us correctly. It’s a peculiar thing how the humans can still mis-rig us after all this time, then whizz off to a blustery start line on a screaming reach with half rudder before realising the errors in their rigging efforts. They then face an agonising re-rig, using two fingers, a chin or two, a shoulder and some teeth to maintain control and get to the start on time. We boats raise one eyebrow and mutter “really?”. There were mutterings before we’d even left the trollies.
The following morning, 16 boats were lined up on a windy lake slipway. Will Hitchman’s boat had a raised eyebrow and was inspecting its Owner’s borrowed wetsuit boots, kindly loaned by Francis Neill when Will discovered he’d left his at home.
The first race started promptly in a very blustery, shifty Southerly Force 5-6. Many boats were making their Owners practice water starts, followed by rail riding skills. Those who were rubbish at it were practicing capsizing techniques.
The day progressed like something out of the latest James Bond film, but with the cool cars being replaced by us even sexier boats.
After 20 minutes of racing, Ian Baillie was in the lead. The rescue boat was on standby next to the leeward mark and managed to get the buoy’s rope caught around the propellor (have they used that in a James Bond film yet?). Several boats then rounded a different mark instead and the RO Movie Director Richard shouted “cut” – raising a flag to end the fiasco and started us again. Plenty of raised boat eyebrows and several sighs.
The race re-started with Ian, Tom Southwell and Niel Richie making a clean getaway from the fleet. Will suffered a huge capsize at the gybe mark and Francis-the-Destroyer ploughed into the disaster zone.
In the wings, someone from the movie crew shouted “cut”, so Francis planed across Will’s sail, locking his gps target locator on the boots he’d lent Will earlier, cleanly ripping the sail’s head off. As the movie plot was clearly becoming more sinister, more than a third of the film cast departed the set to avoid the difficult sailing conditions and risk of another decapitation.
Rhodri Thomas went on to win the race from Tom and Niel.
Race 2 saw Will return with a replacement sail. The wind continued to howl and shift wildly. Owner and I had a few swims to keep us from overheating, amongst a few others. Niel went on to win from Tom and Will in the brutal sailing conditions, with Rhodri, Jon Bassett and Gordon Stewart following closely behind.
Race 3 saw Will and Ian make a clean break from the fleet soon after the start. On the first upwind cross, Ian ducked beneath Will, only to be hit with a huge gusty lift which capsized him. Further in the race, just ahead of us at the gybe mark, more capsizing was going on. This time, a raft of 3 boats were upturned. Cue Francis the Destroyer (muhahaha) looking for more heads to chop off. He located Andy Spencer and fired his underwater missile. Once again, the Director called “cut” and the boat obeyed, slicing the sail on impact.
This was becoming a horror movie of epic proportions and I can only blame David Valentine for not being there to edit the script. Instead, he had sent his flunky and poster boy, Tom to star in one of the leading roles.
Unfortunately, that race’s 4th left Tom just short behind Will, Niel and Rhodri, but still in the Oscar nominations at the end of the days’ racing.
A tired and drenched collection of boats and humans came ashore that evening and they enjoyed a hearty supper provided by YDSC superb new caterer Karen Laxton. The sailors spent the night snuggled up with wet sails and damp gear in tents and vans, listening to the 30 knot winds outside.
The next morning, I found myself all packed up and ready to go home, in anticipation of the heavy rain and even stronger gales.
However, the wind had calmed down a bit and Mick Green, who was racing his brand new DZero (both on and under the water) persuaded my Owner to put on some bigger (is that possible?) and braver pants, man-up and get out there. Well said Mick. She, in turn, passed that message of camaraderie onto Jon Bassett, who was also thinking of leaving the set for a new movie. Such is the DZero fleet enthusiasm and support for eachother, that I’m thinking the title of our Hollywood production should be “One Zero is never enough”.
The fourth race was started in much more manageable winds, although they were even shiftier. The race was led and won by Ian, with Andy Spencer sailing a superb race with a replacement sail, coming in 2nd. In third was Tom, but more significantly, the series discard had now kicked in, putting Will in first place overall. Interestingly, Will’s sail number is Triple 07 (307). Perhaps our movie’s Bond character had revealed himself at last. He went on to win both of the last races, to become the DZero Superhero Northern Champion.
The competition before the final race was so tight that only 4 points separated the top 5 boats, with Tom, Niel, Rhodri and Ian all possible winners, but finishing in that order overall. Jon put in his best races of the weekend, including a 3rd and 4th, finishing 6th overall, justifying going out for that second day.
Despite the increasing wind in the final race, we also had a better day, finishing 7th overall, just behind Jon.
Mick secured the Lanterne Rouge of the weekend by being the last boat to complete every race.
So, the curtains came down upon our final event of the year, The plot had it all; heroes, villains, unbelievable storylines. We had a great Director (thanks, Richard and race team), superb Producer (Richard Paynter – our local DZero rep and event organiser, with assistant Lee Carter) fabulous location and set (YDSC), excellent canteen (Thanks Karen), film crew (Thanks Paul Hargraves and Alice Carter) and terrific cast (fellow DZeros afloat and onshore – Abby, Ed, Paul).
See you all at the Red Carpet Premiere next Spring!
Zippy Zero 333