The calm before the storm. Photo Copyright Wendy Horton
On the 28th January 2017 the D-Zero fleet gathered at a not so cold Northampton Sailing Club for the Steve Nicholson Memorial Trophy which is also round 6 of the Winter Series. With 12 boats entered including series leader Ian Morgan, Rob Lennox and David Summerville it looked like Ian might have a job on his hands to lead the fleet home.
Unfortunately a combination of winter lurgy and injury cut the signed up fleet from 12 to 9. 2 of the victims were David and Rob leaving Ian with the simple task of navigating the traffic whilst keeping the rest of the D-Zeros behind him.
Paul Jefferies approaching the windward mark. Photo Copyright Wendy Horton
Race 1 and with 55 boats on the line it was always going to be speed off the line which paid. Sadly something your roving reporter has found lacking recently and i was soon mired in dirty air so chose to go right a bit (against the local advice) to gain clear air. It seems the locals do not always know best and I was well up in the D-Zero fleet as the windward mark approached. Unfortunately the ‘go left’ advice meant a horde of boats approaching on port none of whom seemed to be paying any heed to the starboard tackers. Lets just say rule observance was a little lacking. Off on to the reach and the speed of the D-Zero really showed allowing me to take several boats, only for my hard work to be undone on the run by choosing the wrong side. After an indifferent bottom reach I could see some of the leaders has chosen to go right and come back across half way up the beat. This paid off and and i soon found myself catching Mandy and Tom as the traffic thinned out. By this point Ian was long gone but there was a good battle taking place behind with Eleanor Craig in a borrowed boat coming through.
The last lap called for some clever tactics to keep the fast approaching Eleanor behind and still try to catch Mandy in front who had dropped back from Tom as the wind increased a little allowing him to get away upwind. After the top end of the beat gave me optimism there was a late shift that was not in my favour and Mandys superior speed on the reach and run kept me as 4th D-Zero with only 20 seconds separating Mandy, myself and Eleanor at the line. Ian took class honours with Tom coming home second.
Back on shore for some welcome lunch while the double handers had their second race. The inevitable post race chat and it seems most people had a good race aside from Will who had sampled the Pitsford Waters on a couple of occasions and found them to be bracing.
Mandy Sweet making her way upwind in clear air. Photo Copyright Wendy Horton
Race 2 saw Mandy come flying off the line never to be seen again aside from by Ian who started close to me but used his superior line speed to get away in clear air. Tacking off did not cost too much though and I was not far behind Tom at the windward mark with the rest of the D-Zeros battling with the traffic. The first reach put paid to most of the slower boats but with the wind dropping it was going to be tough to get away far enough. With the wind in a mess at the bottom of the beat it seemed I was destined to go backwards. Managing to play another ‘get out of jail free’ card I extracted myself and was closing on Tom by the windward mark. Cue the wind to start dying off. After a slow reach/run and reach Tom had pulled away a bit but there seemed to be a little more breeze on the right than across the course. With Eleanor closing quickly in the lighter winds I would have my hands full again. Happily tacking on the shifts through the lighter patch allowed me to hook into the stronger breeze at the top of the beat and end up on Toms transom and extend the gap on the boats behind me. Tom managed to sneak away on the offwind legs again so I set about keeping Eleanor behind me. At the finish I was 15 seconds or so behind Tom with Eleanor a further 15 seconds back.
Ian had taken class honours again from Mandy this time with Tom 3rd and myself 4th.
Back on shore and everyone seemed happy with their days racing as we set about packing up for the journey home.
Overall Ian led the fleet by some distance coming home a very presentable 4th overall in the singlehanded fleet beating some quality opposition in the process. Mandy was next in 18th overall followed by Tom in 21st overall. Full results can be found by clicking here. Tim Olin was also present taking photos on the water. His pictures can be found by clicking here.
Thanks go to Kevin Moll for lending his boat to Eleanor for the day. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and we hope to see her back in a D-Zero soon. Also thanks to Wendy Horton who was key minder and trolley dolly as well as unofficial photographer.