Harken One Design Regatta, Largs SC
It’s Zippy Zero, THE DZero, reporting once again, after a tootle to Bonnie Scotland (544 miles round trip) last weekend and all packed and ready to go to Shoreham-you-can’t-go-further-South-without-rigging-me (562 miles round trip). 1106 miles in ten days. All for ME!!
So; our first Open meeting this year and it’s June already. What strange times we’ve had. Rest assured folks, sailing is one of the safest activities you can do that doesn’t involve snotting over eachother, so get out there and take our covers off please! It was great to learn that there were 44 Dzeros out there racing at 2 events last week. Lets see if we can all make it to Largs for our Nationals on 20th August. It’s a great venue and filled with enthusiastic local sailors and professional race crews to give us the best possible experience.
Back to our weekend event. It was great to catch up with my boatie friends and the Owners seemed very happy to be together again. I arrived a day early, hopping and popping behind Owner’s new camper van as she made her way up the M6. By the time we passed Gretna, it was very windy, but it was a reach, which is my favourite. Owner had plenty of practice veering between the motorway lanes in the gusts before we could do it for real on the race course.
The plan was to get there a day early for a tune up with the infamous fast Scots. We arrived to dark skies, white horses and cool temperatures, so the pre-race sailing day turned into a bimble day and I spent the morning in the boatpark having various therapies; upright, sideways and even standing on my head. Owner and friends examined my nether regions with lots of oohing and erring. The reason for the intense and embarrassing scrutiny stemmed from various complaints about decibel humming in my daggerboard area. It’s actually a digestion feature – all that weed, sea water and salt can make a boat a bit gassy at times; it’s known in the business as “Foil Chatter”. However, Owner wanted a solution for my little personal problem and discovered that my daggerboard’s trailing edge was jamming in the lower rear slot of the case, which was causing my vortex to mis-fire or something. A small Velcro suppository was carefully inserted into my daggerboard slot with eye-wateringly pointy pliers, assisted by Jon McBassett, whilst Sam McSloss held onto my nose tightly. Result! – my guts were silenced for the weekend. As a bonus, my hums are more tuneful and I smell a bit nicer.
On Saturday morning, 21 DZeros were all getting ready to hum with me. The wind was still blowing hard, but sheltered by Cumbrae it looked quite pleasant out there. All that changed once we reached the race area and got worse the closer we got to Cumbrae and the windward mark. Ian McBaillie from Dalgety Bay made a strong start and went on to win the race from Aberdeen & Stonehaven’s Niel McRitchie. This was much the theme for the day. I was blissfully unaware of the tussles at the front of the fleet, having my own demons to battle at the rear following a Flippy Zippy moment ending in a capsize on the first run. I did try to warn Owner that the waves were not to my liking, by offering her a little bit of Tippy Zippy which she ignored at her peril. She continued to play those naughty waves til “Boom”! I tried to help by sailing on anyway, with my boom in the air and sail set on a horizontal mast. Thus, we made rapid progress to the leeward mark with Owner clinging forlornly onto my daggerboard. Eventually she gave up riding the great white and swam slowly to the DZ control room to sort out my rig and try something else to get me upright. Needless to say, we were glad to see the finish line many laps later.
There followed a long wait for the second race, whilst we watched the Musto Skiffs career around their larger course. Owner was looking chilly, so I made her hike as hard as possible in the next race to warm her up.
By the end of Race 2, we had been on the water for over 3 hours and Owner’s teeth had developed an alarming degree of foil chatter. She was cold and blue, so I took her home and dumped her on the beach. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet still had two more races and 2 hours of sailing to go!
By the following morning, the wind had changed direction but was still as strong. The windward mark was set by Fairlie, up towards the mouth of the Clyde and not too far away from the huge green conical channel marker buoy. From my little nose it looked 8 times the size of a DZero (my nose is small and it looked very scary). The buoy seemed to have a bow wave bigger than mine and appeared to be sucking me towards it. I kept well away.
The courses were shorted today, but still involved very long beats against the tide. Between the last two races, I paused to play with two friendly porpoises that were leaping around my hull. The creatures were saying “we’ve come inshore because it’s blowing old boots out there and it’s coming your way”. Owner does not speak porpoise.
The Race Officer also did not speak porpoise.
Off we set for Race 7, which had us hardy boats screeching downwind in gusts of 28 knots. The penultimate leg was a multi-fleet graveyard of upturned RS400s, 29ers and Musto Skiffs. A few DZeros were also inverted, with only 9 boats finishing the race. The tenth boat to attempt finishing that race was one Mick Green, who was so far behind after his epic capsize routine, that the marks had been lifted and the committee boat had gone home as he scanned the horizon for something to round.
We managed a 7th place pipping locals Billie McCarlie and Willie McTodd on the last mark rounding.
Back ashore the winner’s podium was graced with the all round skills of Niel McRitchie, winning on countback with equal points from Ian McBaillie. Fleet newcomer Gabriele McDado was third in a borrowed boat and Rhodri McThomas from Dalgety Bay was fourth in his first DZero event. A special mention to another newcomer Andy McHutchinson from Loch Earn, who was only able to race one day, but had the impressive results of 2,3,4.
In fifth place was Jon McBassett with a tidy scoreline.
Billy McCarlie was my Lanterne Rouge boat in 6th place; the last boat to complete every race.
It was a series that showed the versatility of us boats and our ability to cope with all weights, ages and swimming ability. Well done Qwners – you really are great fun and we humour you well.
Well done also to Martin McLatimer, Jon McBassett and the race team at Largs who have worked so hard behind the scenes and at the event to pull this off.
On behalf of my fellow DZero dinghies, “We had a ball”
Zippy Zero 333