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Zippy Zero goes rogue at the Nationals

Hello folks,

Guess what?

I had a whopping good time at the Nationals in Brixham last week. It was the ultimate D-Zero heavy weather event, with winds clocked as gusting over 40 knots on the second day.

The Owners planned to do some racing against eachother, but we boats knew that it was really the 2022 International D-Zero Freestyle Championships, with special awards for the fastest capsize, deepest nosedive, highest jump and wettest spraychute. We had even hired photographer Georgie Altham as our judge and she produced some excellent photos of our athletic efforts.

The first day saw the race team put on two races on a huge quadrilateral course. Most of us boats played nicely at first, although the wind was already over 20 knots in the first race. Big Niel Ritchie took an early swim on the downwind leg, chasing leader Nick Craig. His capsize scored too low in points, so he sped past us whilst we were in 5th place, to try some other tricks.

Poster Boy Tom Southwell had his boat too tightly under control to do any dump moves, which gave him a second place in the Owner’s Race, but null points on the whacky freestyle scoreboard.

My Owner failed to release my kicker on the final reach, so I put in a boom- end-wave-drag, which, with a nice Owner archback, can score quite highly, especially if the Owner can then be ejected into the water on the cockpit side, allowing plenty of time for a decent turtle. I did this full trick, opting for some extra points by retracting my daggerboard for a streamline look. Her Ownership spoilt the finish by hauling out over my transom like a drunken seal and kneeling over my near-empty dagger slot, shouting “hello” down it. Null points.

The day’s capsize category was won by Billy McCarlie, who scored a 15th and 9th in the Human Race and a gold medal in the aforementioned archback capsize, with extra points awarded for the long drawn out sequence and terrific facial expressions plus token extra weight hand overboard to assist possible recovery.

The overnight leader, Nick Craig, scored two straight wins and did not allow his boat to compete in the freestyle event.

Overnight runner-up was Jon Bassett from Largs, whose boat practiced hard in the Submarine category; qualifying for the finals in this popular underwater event which would be hotly contested the next day. Billy McCarlie’s boat also performed well in this category.

The following day, the wind had freshened. It was a long squally run to the start area and a much reduced fleet gathered at the start boat.

With less than a minute to go, Owner ground on my downhaul, only to see my mainsail slide a foot down the track. After several failed frantic attempts at re-hoisting and locking it off, she tied the halyard tail off on my mast track and set off in pursuit of the departed fleet with my peculiar reef in place.

My boom was low, we were last boat on the course and faced a perilous run in big seas with no kicker. Owner was gibbering a lot of rubbish about not gybing in case her head came off, so I withdrew from the freestyle head splattering category, which was won by Gordon Stewart with a meaty forehead cut and black eye on the sail home.

Elsewhere, Jon’s Bassett’s boat was still trying to win the Submarine category and in a wonderfully opportune moment, its tiller extension departed company downwind. Jon’s boat performed a magnificent pitchpole, in which it dislodged all of its mast chocks (extra points) before capsizing. 

The daring boat won double gold for highest jump and best free-dive and was captured on film by Georgie. Remarkably, cool Jon recovered his chocks, righted the boat, sorted out the mess and went on to finish 5th in that race.

At the other end of the fleet and after 3 laps of low-sail mode cruising in a gale, the RIB kindly whisky-flagged  me, meaning I could count my last place and relax to watch the leading boats of Nick, Tom, Niel and Darren Williams come in to the finish line.

Meanwhile, Owner was trying to balance on my tiny foredeck in her own personal freestyle competition. She attempted to jury rig my sail by strapping the useless halyard onto the boom. This was quite challenging in the large seas and fierce winds, wedging the tiller over with a foot and working over a raised daggerboard. The end result was a sail raised to 4” below the masthead, with half kicker but no downhaul available. Thus we raced for the rest of the day.

The following two races were dominated by Nick, Tom and Niel. David Valentine refused to let his boat heel, so he came third in the spray category, second in the submarine group and finished 5th overall in the Owner’s Race, with a consistent set of results and very wet and rusty tin sailing gear.

In 6th at his first DZero Nationals was Willie Todd from Largs, finishing with an impressive 4th place in the final race.

Another worthy mention must go to Martin Walker of Shoreham SC, who won the Lanterne Rouge, showing great endeavour in completing all the races. His boat also performed well in the archback capsize category.

So ended our feisty Nationals. No boats broken and everyone got out alive. Owner and I managed our best Nationals result in tenth place, so I’ll keep her for another year.

Congratulations Nick Craig, for a well-deserved win and well done to everyone who went out and to those that didn’t. You all made it a great Nationals. Also thank you to our sponsors, Barracuda Bay.

Lastly, thank you Brixham Yacht Club – you were superb!

Zippy Zero 333

Zippy at the RSK D-Zero Nationals

I’m Zippy Zero, the wee McBoatie, who has just returned from the D-Zero Nationals in Largs. It was an epic event, which we have all been looking forward to.

The day we had all been waiting for finally arrived. The 2021 D-Zero Nationals at long last. 54 boats lined up in the Largs car park and a piper playing his bagpipes to send us out to sea.

I left my berth first and was fitted with a cool and kinky nose stud, which was the race tracker, and mooched off to the slipway to watch the crazy offshore wind doing gusty off-hill bombs at Force 5. I was quite alarmed at the prospect of getting through them to get to the start area, especially with half-baked foils not quite ready to go. As it was just me and Owner and only one of us gets to freak out at a time (and let’s face it, it’s never her turn), I managed to throw in a capsize on leaving the shore just to check if she had all her marbles on board. Thankfully she kept calm and we were back up before too many boats noticed. After a lengthy postponement waiting for the course to be set and re-set, we got away cleanly on the trapezoidal course. It was tricky and gusty, but Dan Holman got an early lead to win from Nick Craig and Gavin Fleming.

In the second race, I was determined not to lose Dan, my man (and superhero) so easily, so I snuggled into a tidy gap that I knew he’d left for me. It all got a little cozy in there with moments to go, but a gaggle of boats were over the line and we had a general recall. The naughty boat flag went up and we had another go. This time, Dan got away to win from Joel Walker and Nick.

No wind was forecast for Day 2, but luckily it was wrong and we had a pleasant breeze to take us to the start line. The pleasant breeze became a strong breeze with heavy showers, creating some dense D-Zero mayhem at the windward mark. I stayed clear of most of the trouble, collecting some flotsam from the others en-route, including a water bottle and Martin Latimer’s hawk, which landed in my cockpit for a change of scenery and better food. Dan won, followed by Nick, Jono Shelley in Storky’s boat and Niel Ritchie. 

After a number of recalls, Race 4 got away in a dropping breeze. It was another win for Dan, with Jono, Arran Holman and Nick in the chasing pack.

Race 5 was postponed with seconds to spare on the start line. We all drifted around in the dying breeze, waiting for a steady wind which never came. I hung around at the homeward side of the course, anticipating a scram for the slipway, but the race was well and truly won by Paul Jefferies, who showed a speed not to be seen again on the Largs racecourse.

The rain arrived in time for the fleet beach clean activity and increased throughout the evening and Championship Dinner. Dan had used up all his luck for the weekend by then and the Gods of Scottish Precipitation evened up the scoreboard by filling his tent by the bucketload, even adding a little spider as garnish in the middle of one puddle.

The wind was sadly not to return, so the following day we crowned Dan the defending champion of 2021, with Nick runner up. Jono Shelley had a great couple of days sailing a D-Zero for the first time and finished a creditable 3rd.

In 4th was Arran and 5th Joel Walker. A few special prizes were awarded; our young person was Jamie Briggs in 26th and our first not-so-young person was Billy McCarlie having a stellar Championship and finishing 11th. My Owner Liz Potter was first lady in 30th and a special mention goes to Mike Forbes, who in 49th place, took the coveted Lanterne Rouge, by being the last boat to complete every race – magnificent, given his also not-so-young status and this being his first dinghy event after 50 years!

Stacey Bray (28th) also deserves a mention for travelling all the way from Porthpean to Largs for one day of racing, due to his daughter getting Covid. Another Covid interruption came via Nick’s wife, resulting in an early departure for him from the Championships.  I asked my Owner about this Covid thing and she tried to explain about this often debilitating illness which starts with a cough. I looked up some of these new words in my Healthy Boat Compendium and found the closest word to debilitating was delaminating; that’s not good news people. Also, I read that a cough is the expelling of air from an internal cavity. In my world, that’s a leak. Also not good news. So, for all those people who have had to stop racing because of Human Delaminating Leaky Disease, I wish you well.

On Sunday, the double gun signalled the end of the Nationals. Next came the moment to pack up the circus and say farewell to all our friends and fiends. Loading up his triple stacker, David Valentine forgot to allow clearance for the recently added low car park barrier. Luckily there were enough Owners around to stop him, record the moment and offer words of advice, plus a silly hat to remind him to drive carefully.

Thankyou to all who helped run the event, to the amazing Sir Boyd Tunnock who fed our Owners Tunnocks and RSK who also gave us sponsorship. Great photos by Tim Olin and cool snout gear Simon Lovesey! 

Lastly a huge thank you for all my fellow Zeros for entering and making this Nationals the biggest one yet! You’re a great bunch. See you soon!

Zippy Zero 333

Zippy and Friends at West Kirby and Dee Regattas

Another week, another D-Zero event and more watery stories to tell you, as 8 visiting D-Zeros joined our 3 local boats at the West Kirby and Dee Sailing Clubs Regatta Weekend! The event was also part of the Northern DZero Travellers Circuit and the visiting D-Zero’s travelled a combined 1919 miles each way to be with us. Top traveller was Niel Ritchie from Aberdeen and Stonehaven (347 miles), followed by Billy McCarlie, Martin Latimer, Alistair “Storky” Mclaughlin and Jon Bassett (257 miles). Gordon Stewart clocked 198 miles from North Herts & East Beds and Ed Deacon travelled 190 miles from Hunts SC. We’re not competitive really. Really.

The Regatta event started on Friday with West Kirby SC’s annual Round Hilbre Island Race. As the visitors were still busy working and driving, the race was excluded from the Travellers Event, so it was left to me and Mick Green to sort out the D-Zero honours (he won our last Island contest!).

The race began with a light airs downwind start, which is always a bit of a laugh for us boats! I tootled along the line, measuring the perfect space between me and the Committee boat to reach and run off into when the time came. Then with ten seconds to go, who should appear approaching my precious space and barging into my closing slot but Owner’s husband in his A Class Cat “Zippy Eater”. It growled at me to get out of the way or there’d be three Zippies, so I bore off to avoid a bad accident, not to mention a lot of marital grief. Both of us were OCS, having to re-round the start boat and try again. “Zippy Eater” was so annoyed that it stopped to take a major mouthful of the start boat anchor line. Ooops. I was out of there as quick as possible. The rest of the fleet hadn’t got too far, as it was a slow plodding run against the tide in a sloppy sea. We set off towards the shore side of the course, leaving Mick and the majority of the 40 boat fleet to wallow above the sandbank mid-channel. With me was a Finn, a Laser, a couple of Falcons and the Grumpy A Class.

After an hour, a very black, wet and low cloud appeared from my side of the shore and with it came a pleasing Force 3-4, which rapidly increased to a more worrying force 4-5. This propelled me on towards the mouth of the estuary and 8-foot standing waves. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet sat in a windless stupor on their sandbank, waiting for their turn. By the time we rounded the windward mark, my cockpit was a snakepit of tangled mainsheet, kicker and other stuff from the continuously dumping waves. After a quick sort-out, I set off downwind, surfing like a loon towards the shallower waters inside the island. As I was first dinghy, I had to be pathfinder for the fleet and closed my eyes tightly, hoping there was no sand at the troughs of each wave. On we reached for half an hour until the Committee boat loomed into sight. We finished 2nd overall, with Mick taking 9th place. At the prizegiving, I collected 3 bottles of Trapper’s Hat beer from our sponsors, Brimstage Brewery. They happen to be Owner’s husband’s favourite and I hope they were shared out to soothe his pain in coming last on handicap.

The following day, my friends had all arrived and we lined up on the seaward fence to swap news and admire the vast expanse of no water, which is the Dee estuary. The sailors were promised that when the tide arrives it comes in fast, so be ready! All of the wind had been used up the day previously – mostly by me on that last reach – and we set off for a light airs afternoon of racing under the flag of Dee Sailing Club’s Regatta.

After a tricky start, which involved most of the fleet being swept down tide of the line at the 5-minute gun and failing to reach the start in time, the sneakier DZeros of Alistair Storky Mclaughlin and Niel Ritchie made a clean getaway. Niel held the lead until the ultimate leg, but, when pushed to the limit by Storky’s continuous beaking and pecking, capitulated into 2nd at the finish. I was one of the late starters but managed to weasel my way into 3rd place by the end. The second race was led from the start by Storky, who pulled out his lead magnificently on the third lap, when his boat got challenged by the late arrival of an RS300. As Storky is RS300 National Champion, he was having none of that and raced boat for boat to the finish, leaving the rest of us D-Zeros dragging in his wake like debris behind Haley’s Comet. The leader of this debris was Jon Bassett, followed by yours truly and Niel Ritchie, meaning that Mr Storky had won the Dee Regatta, with myself and Niel battling for second place on equal points, which Niel won on countback.

After us boats had been showered and lovingly dressed in our pyjamas, the Owners went off to Dee SC to enjoy a magical evening in the sunshine on the lawn. The beers were downed, the band played and our owners feasted on Hog roast, some dressed in their Hawaiian shirts and flower garlands, to embrace the D-Zero event’s tropical theme.

The next day was the turn of West Kirby’s regatta. One of the local Solo sailors, Martin Hartley, outed his guilty secret of wanting a D-Zero, but we boats are as rare as gold dust to buy at the moment. One of the club’s newest Owners, Paul Holmes, who was unable to make the event, kindly loaned him a boat and he went on to score a creditable 9th and 6th that day. We look forward to welcoming him into our home fleet soon!

The wind had increased a little that day, but was blowing offshore, making for a tricky shifty race in significant tides. Storky revelled in these conditions and had no problem securing another distanced win from Niel and Jon. I was happily bobbing along behind Billy McCarlie in 5th place, having overtaken Martin Latimer on the previous reach. I rounded the leeward mark and tacked off to avoid the filthy air spewing out behind a gaggle of Albacores ahead of me and zoned in on the lay line for the finish. As I tacked back, an even filthier air-spewing Martin Latimer came trucking over the horizon to beat both myself and Billy at the finish. My book on “101 ways to overtake Martin Latimer” has changed its status from Mothballed to Work in Progress.

In the final race, it was another clear win from Storky, whose boat went faster than a seal on Viagra with a broom up its unmentionables. In second was Niel and third was Jon, with Gordon Stewart closing in behind them in fourth place. This outstanding performance gave Storky the series which he had won before his discard. The rest of us boats all squabbled over his first place discard rather enviously, but the overall second and third places went to Niel and Jon, with me (and Owner Liz) coming fourth.

The outdoor prizegiving was a happy affair, with a whole table of prizes just for us D-Zeros, sponsored by David Valentine and DZero.co.uk. Owner put up a painting for the winner, signed by all the competitors. It’s called “D-Zeros coming ashore in light winds with no-one to collect their trollies.”

Luckily, we boats had plenty of help on the slipway (thankyou fans and volunteers); also in the boat park (thankyou Nathan Sandall for our boatie air bnb). Thankyou also to the Flag Officers at both Dee and West Kirby sailing clubs and to the army of workers behind the scenes. Once again, thanks to the Round Hilbre sponsors “Brimstage Breweries”

Well done Mr. Storky!

It was a truly magnificent weekend!

Zippy Zero 333

Zippy’s Trip to Shoreham

Hello from Zippy Zero, the chatty DZero, with tales of my latest adventures on the South Coast; this time at Shoreham Sailing Club Open.

The club is one of the latest DZero breeding centres and 8 of the 9 home club boats were competing at this new DZero venue. Together with 10 visiting boats, the fleet set off from the sheltered harbour out to sea for a series of 6 races on an Olympic course over the 2 days.

We had travelled South from West Kirby the previous day in the heaviest downpours I’d seen in a month. Alright for Owner in her nice dry car – I had a full-on colonic irrigation experience on the M40 and I fear my underpants will never be the same. I digress. We arrived late that night to the YHA on top of a hill that was so high it was in a raincloud. Foggy, wet, eerie. No place for a boat, let alone the dirt track that I climbed up to get there. Brown underpants. Say no more.

Back at sea level the next morning, I was feeling much better. I’d forgiven Owner for her failings in my transportation and overnight accommodation and we tootled off to the start line in good spirits. She was quite alert given her age and the number of miles she’d driven that week and propelled me towards the start line at full speed as the gun went. Even better, there was a vacuous hole to leeward of me and I was feeling good! We rounded the top mark 4th behind Tyler Harmsworth, Thomas Southwell and Adam Thompson and I nipped, Zipped, dipped and whipped around the course until I could see the whites in Tyler’s eyes. The RO finished my Zippings with a firm gun, leaving me in 2nd place, ahead of Tom and Adam, but behind Tyler.

There followed a second hour-long race, but with a huge wind shift on the start line. Gareth Griffiths crossed the fleet on port tack whilst all of us boats tried to bite his transom as he squeezed by. But a good fly-by it was and he went on to finish 2nd behind Tom, who picked his way up the shifty first beat well. Local sailor Martin Walker kept the pressure on the leaders with good downwind boat speed to finish 3rd.

The wind spun once more and a new course was laid. Tyler made a clean break and led the race, with Andrew Spencer from Blithfield sailing his best race of the series and coming 2nd.

The end of the day saw Tom leading the series from Tyler and Martin and me (plus Owner Liz; yes she can have a mention) in 4th place.

So homewards we drifted, to the safety of the little harbour, until the rescue boat cut us off and stopped us in our tracks. This was to allow a shipping movement out of the harbour. When I saw the size of it, I nearly had a shipping movement of my own. I’ve often wondered, when does a boat become a ship? I now know that it’s when it can ride over Zippy and leave little behind. Me and my mates stayed well clear until the harbour was empty.

The next day I awoke to cool drizzle and grey skies. For a moment I thought we were in Scotland, but no, that was last weekend Zippy. The Race Team left early to set up the course, whilst us boats teetered on the slipway with our sails up looking for wind (and mischief). There was no wind and hence no opportunity for mischief. After an onshore delay, a zephyr arrived and we were beckoned out to sea.

After a poor start in Race 5, we picked our way to the pointy end of the fleet, where I set my sights on Gordon Stewart for overtaking purposes. I slid past stealthily on the reach and was dismayed to find him creeping back upwind of me like some sort of unwanted relative at Christmas. I felt the need to luff him and managed to wipe off my Klingon onto David Valentine, who was approaching on his finishing leg. I chose my moment to throw in an excellent double gybe and rounded the mark ahead of Gordon. Unfortunately, Owner hadn’t noticed the S flag (it was only 22 mins into the race after all!), so let Gordon tack off and lay the finish ahead of us. The three local sailors Martin, Gareth and Chris Handel took line honours, whilst David Valentine finished 6th, to give him a scoreline of 6,6,6. Beware fellow DZ’s.

By Race 5, we were joined by Shoreham Sailing Club’s Sunday handicap fleet and what a fine collection of boats came out to play – including some beautiful Merlin Rockets! We all had a long delay, whilst the wind swung around, courses were re-laid and the Commodore did some fishing off the RIB.

When we were all ready, Owner made another good start, tacking early to pick up the windshift. We arrived at the windward mark just behind Tyler and watched Martin overtake us both downwind on his slightly superior zephyr. He went on to win the race from Tyler, with me in 3rd. Ray Collins from Locks SC was not too far behind in 4th.

The wind was dying as well as swinging wildly by the last race. The RO got us away for a short race, which was led and won by Adam. Martin finished 2nd to take the series and in 3rd was Ian Patrick from Bough Beech SC, who had come for just the day. Another visitor, Noel West from Newhaven & Seaford SC clocked his best race result with a 6th.

Congratulations to the top 4; Martin, Tyler, Adam and Gareth all from Shoreham SC. Well done to Owner coming 5th and me as first visiting boat.

Martin Walker, overall winner

Congratulations to Shoreham SC for a very well run and enjoyable event. Also in their successful DZero breeding programme; there was another arrival as we watched on Sunday morning. Competitor Nigel Pybus sealed the deal on 324, taken on by Chris Handel for his son. Then there were ten.

Thank you to Steve Southall (280), finishing 11th, for co-ordinating the event and encouraging the visitors to come. We will be back I’m sure.

Next up is my home event at West Kirby and Dee Regattas, where I will continue to recruit competitors for our DZero Nationals in Largs this August.

It’s going to be a magical summer.

Zippy Zero 333

Photos are all copyright Warwick Baker / www.warwickpics.com

Zippy’s One-Design Adventures in Largs

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.

Youth Ambassador Jamie Briggs (300) with speed off the line

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.

Billy ‘Smiling’ McCarlie (265)

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.

Gabriele Dado (281) – Step 1: borrow a boat. Step 2: show the regulars what they should be doing

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.

Hunting in packs

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

Dere’s a D-Zero in da house…

Hello everyone, from Zippy Zero, the charismatic and journalistic D-Zero racing dinghy.

I am slowly waking up from my long winter hibernation to discover two things.

One – I’m lying on a deeply padded sunlounger in The Household Conservatory and Two – I have undergone a metamorphosis and have changed colour to a hint of grey (so mature). I have also acquired a new sail number; 333 – half a devil. How interesting.

I’m thrilled with the changes; super smooth hull, latest bimbles, full set of foils (just kidding – been watching too much of the AC75’s on telly) and I’m really looking forward to going sailing. Hey, I might even be a silver surfer!!

Talking of sailing, I detect a bit of excitement in the human world, as the population starts stirring from their own enforced winter hibernation. I’m certain it won’t be long before we’ll be back to racing – even doing some travelling and visiting my D-Zero family across the country.

The early part of our racing schedule will depend on how healthy the humans are. Personally, I think the more time they spend on the water, the better. So, if you haven’t got a D-Zero yet, check out our stand at the Virtual RYA Dinghy Exhibition this weekend.

Our God, Maker, Deal-breaker and Tin-Man-Faker David Valentine will be offering advice, plus a special show offer on new boats. Also check out our website for information on the D-Zero pre-loved collection. You can also talk online to D-Zero Owners (including my Owner, although she is blonde and talks a lot – you have been warned).

With most of our racing calendar set in late summer, I’m really looking forward to my home club’s regatta weekend from June 25-27th. The event is a joint venture between neighbouring clubs West Kirby and Dee. It starts on the Friday with a round Hilbre Island race, to kick a few seal butts into orbit, before the regatta races held over the weekend. My D-Zero friends are most welcome, as are all boats who enjoy some salty, spicy sailing on the Dee Estuary.

Our Nationals have been moved from June to August and it seems that this will be the month to be in Scotland. The Jocky McNoo programme kicks off at Aberdeen and Stonehaven SC with their regatta (and D-Zero Open) on 14/15 August. A four day recovery and travel time brings us to the West coast for the RSK D-Zero Nationals at Largs SC from 20/22 August, followed by the Largs Regatta on 28/29th August. Here, I have an unfinished business date set up with a fearsome crocodile on the Isle of Cumbrae which we encounter as we race around the Island on the final day.

All this talk of sailing has made me feel quite tired, so I’m going to recline on my lounger and continue curing a bit longer.

Hang in there peoples and remember to cough far away from each other.

Remember. Far Cough.

Half-Devil Zippy 333

West Kirby Regatta – Recheduled

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Zippy and Liz

We are delighted to announce that West Kirby have rescheduled their regatta weekend for the 18th-20th September 2020. We are sure that everyone knows that West Kirby is home to the one and only Zippy Zero, our resident blogger.

Zippy would love to see as many D-Zeros as can make it. Her owner, Liz Potter, has been relegated to the boring admin stuff and has said:

West Kirby has postponed its regatta weekend until 18, 19 & 20th Sept 2020. I would like to invite the D-Zero fleet to come and join in! Please can you post as an event on the Assoc web page. We will race in the fast Handicap fleet, and results can be taken out to give us our own little series. Free camper van parking on prom (outside club), at next club (10 min drive or lovely off road cycle path 15-20mins) and my driveway, which is 20 mins drive from club. Tents in my garden! More info to follow!

The Adventures of Zippy Zero – Adventures in Africa – Part 2

Tales of Zippy the DZero’s Owner

Adventures in Africa – Part 2.

Hello all; greetings from Zippy the DZero within the firmly locked compound at West Kirby Sailing Club. This week I have been writing the second instalment of Owner’s adventures in Africa, based around sailing club number 9; Montaza Watersports in Alexandria, Egypt.

As this sailing club was only part of the Potter family’s aquatic adventures in Egypt, perhaps I should start this story at the River Nile, where we left off last time.

The mighty Nile leaves Lake Victoria in Uganda at its Northern shore at Jinja and then takes some 3 months for the water to travel 4,132 miles to the Mediterranean in Egypt. Our story picks up as it reaches its 11th country, Egypt, entering Lake Nasser. This vast Lake was created in 1970, upon the completion of the Aswan Great Dam and the Nile travels some 300 miles through the Lake to reach the Dam. It was on this Lake that Owner and family set off by boat for a week of fishing safari, before descending the Nile beyond the Dam in a felucca.

The Potter family were provided with their own live-aboard boat (open-roof topped and open-sided). It came complete with an Egyptian skipper. The boat was followed by a mother ship, which carried the support crew of a skipper, assistant skipper, chef, waiter, galley boy, fishing guide and gun-toting security guard. Plus a tender for fishing excursions. All for one family.

Lake Nasser boats - photo © Liz Potter

The Potter shipmates spent many hours debating whether there were crocodiles in Lake Nasser, often whilst enjoying a swim in it’s warm waters. The answer was provided on one of the many island stops, where the children stumbled upon a huge, bloated dead crocodile festering on the shore.

Nasser Croc - photo © Liz Potter

Thereafter, live crocs were seen on a daily basis. Family swims were curtailed to shoreline and shallower water and there was always a “Potter the croc spotter” on guard.

Nile croc - photo © Liz Potter

Many of the islands where the boat stopped for lunch or overnight, had their own indigenous wildlife. There were monitor lizards, scorpions, foxes and even goats. The boat gang plank was always raised at night by the children’s request, just in case the crocs could shuffle up sideways.

Beyond the Aswan Great Dam, Owner and family joined their next craft; the Nile felucca. The boat had no internal cockpit, so the family lived, ate and slept on the large mattress spread out beneath the sunshade. It was like being in bed for three days with nothing to lean against.

Nile felucca - photo © Liz Potter

By night, the boat was run aground on the banks of the Nile and a meal of tomato stew, made with just tomatoes was served with some very stiff old funky pitta bread. The luxury beverage on offer was warm coke, which was stowed beneath deck all day to reach temperature. The family enjoyed their evening walks along the banks of the Nile to locate some tastier alternatives in the local villages.

Once back on board, Owner hung up the mosquito nets she had wisely packed, only once having to repel the skipper from joining the family, using some choice-learnt Arabic words.

The felucca then rocked and bashed on the shore all night in the wake of the passing luxury Nile Cruisers, with their well-heeled tourists undoubtably quaffing chilled wine in air-conditioned cabins.

The journey turned out to be painfully slow, as the Egyptian skipper seemed to favour drifting downstream on the current. As there was only so much warm coke a family could drink, some increase in speed to the nearest supplier of cold beer seemed like a good idea. There was a small British mutiny, as our sailors insisted that Skipper up full canvass and sheet in. It got worse when he had to hand over the helm to a woman. Allah forbid. Only

     when the felucca was finally rocketing downwind (what is the Arabic term for gybe-ho?) was he allowed to take the helm back and do some serious sulking.

Leaving the Nile at Luxor for some hot air ballooning across the desert and returning to Alexandria, my people returned many months later to complete their journey on the Nile at the delta near Damietta.

At Lake Manzalah lies a fishing village called El-Matariyyah. The locals use sailing vessels similar to the Nile feluccas, which are flat bottomed due to the shallowness of the Lake and topped with huge sails. Owner and Husband weaseled their way onto one of these vessels for the day to enjoy a scenic and enjoyable sail.

Boats at El-Matariyyah - photo © Liz Potter

In between the Nile adventures and many others, the regular sailing fix was provided at the Montaza Watersports Club.

Fishing boatpark - photo © Liz Potter

Located to the East of Alexandria, sailing conditions were often perfect on this stretch of the Med, with year-round sailing in force 2-4 in clear, warm waters.

Montaza - photo © Liz Potter

Luckily Owner packed the windsurfer!

Windsurfing in Egypt - photo © Liz Potter

The family’s UK exported boat of choice this time was a Hobie 16 with twin trapeze and asymmetric spinnaker.

Hobie at Montaza - photo © Liz Potter

The catamaran did a number of long-distance expeditions in its time, including

a journey Eastwards towards Rosetta (Nile Delta) to Nelson’s Island in Abu Qir Bay. The island is the site where Nelson buried his dead after the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

Sailing 10 miles West along Alexandria’s seafront took them to the site of the Old Pharos Lighthouse, which was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1300’s. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and some of its remains were recently found in the sea beneath its original site. Glad my people didn’t capsize there then.

I leave you with an Egyptian sunset to inspire your dreams, journeys and adventures. Live for the day my friends and when this is all over,


Oasis - photo © Liz Potter

Zippy Zero

The Adventures of Zippy Zero – Adventures in Africa – Part 1

Hello out there, my people! Life has been very quiet in the West Kirby boat park since all of you went home. I’m really hoping that it won’t be too long before they let us out to play again and I’m betting that you’re as fed up as I am, so here is a passing-the-time Zippy blog for you to enjoy over a cup of coffee!

I’ve belonged to my Owner for over a year now. In that time, I’ve often challenged her about the crazy decisions she makes when we’re racing, or I ask why she sails me so hard on edge when she knows a capsize might be forthcoming. We chat about all sorts of stuff and I’ve built up a good picture of her sailing life and experiences.

Once I asked her how many sailing clubs she’d been a member of and she told me that West Kirby was the 12th. On her list, Numbers 9 and 11 were truly fascinating, so here we are with the first of a 2-part Zippy Corona Special and the tale of Owner’s adventures at the Entebbe Sailing Club in Uganda.

To set the scene, back in 1996, Owner and her family were sent to Africa by her husband’s company, who were trading in coffee and cotton. They left UK with 2 dogs, an 18 month old baby and a 30ft container, which was the smallest size that would fit a dinghy catamaran mast.

Before leaving, they got in touch with local Catamaran agent Don Findlay and gave him the specification to find a boat that would be challenging enough for two experienced trapeze artists, and quick enough to escape the hippos that are known to frequent Lake Victoria.

Don came up with a Pringle 18.2, which he adapted to carry an asymmetric spinnaker to provide the turbo boost for hippo evasion purposes.

The Prindle was named “Kiboko Kibab” (Kiboko is Swahili for Hippo) just to make sure that the joke was lost on everyone, as the local Africans didn’t know what a kebab was!

Whilst waiting for the container to set sail and travel by road to mid-Africa, Owner and Husband set off for Uganda and were taken for an introductory Lake sail by an elderly long-time resident expat who kept a 30ft cruiser at Entebbe Sailing Club; the main sailing venue on Lake Victoria. For those of you with shaky geography, the Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in the world, with a shoreline of 4438 miles and a sailing area of around three times the size of Wales. It is indeed the source of the White Nile, as confirmed by Henry Stanley after he circumnavigated it in 1875.

The expat’s Cruiser was (a) not in great shape and (b) green, in a way which did not involve any paint. It was in fact a veritable Noah’s Ark, with a diversity of wildlife that was largely inedible. Luckily, Old expat Noah had thought to pack a picnic for lunch, so the menagerie set off in a gentle breeze to a scenic lakeside setting some 3 hours away, stopping to lay anchor a respectable distance away from some ruminating hippos.

It was then that Old Noah discovered that he had left the jerrycan of drinking water on the jetty. “Never mind” he said, “we can drink the Lake water.” He proceeded to fill a plastic cup with dilute hippopiss from overboard, handing this to Owner’s Husband first so that he could check the vintage. My people declined and resigned themselves to a day of dehydration.

Shortly after raising anchor, the skies darkened as a tropical storm started to brew up. It arrived rapidly, with 30 knot winds and hailstones the size of Ostrich eyeballs. Owner made a dive for inside the cockpit where Old Noah had already been sheltering from the increased wind and dislodged boatparts. That left Husband on the helm to keep an eye out for strikable underwater wildlife, further exploding boatparts, cyclones and low flying Pelicans (Pelicans were to become a hazard with the asymmetric kite on the Cat). Owner had her own challenges below deck managing the wildlife.

This including a boat colour themed green frog which had taken up residence in the sink, which was supposed to be doubling as a toilet due to an earlier equipment failure.

Incredibly, all arrived safely at Entebbe unharmed and my people politely declined an offer to purchase the Ark, although they did end up buying Noah’s 1950’s Kenyan safari tent, which provided many happy hours of wild camping adventures on the shores of Lake Victoria.

As a further part of their exploration of Lake Victoria, Owner and husband spent a damp and thrilling day sampling the delights of Grade 5 Nile rapids, whilst undertaking one of the early rafting descents with fledgling company “Adrift”.

The raft did of course flip over, but my expert sailors were quick to recover out of the washing machine of brown Nile water and clung on to the rubber craft until it could be righted in the next calm pool.

Once the container arrived, Kiboko Kebab was rigged and raced at Entebbe most weekends in a small cat fleet and an enthusiastic and competitive laser fleet.

The boat park was guarded by an aggressive Turkey of Terror, which frequently attacked small children, but was kept in check by the Boat Boys. These local lads were paid by the club to rig, launch and recover the members dinghies and then folded sails and put on boat covers whilst the sailors enjoyed a cold bottle of Nile brand beer at the thatched beach bar after racing.

On occasion, the relaxing apres-sail was interrupted by a darkening sky and a few small midge-like flies appearing in the beer glasses. This was the sign to run for the clubhouse at top speed, as it signalled the arrival of millions of Lake flies which had hatched out simultaneously and were driven on a cloud thick enough to choke on. It rarely lasted long and the sailors would be out enjoying the sunshine half an hour later.

Entebbe sailing club started as a shipping container in 1964 and was protected from land seizure by the Ugandan military during the Idi Amin years by the intervention of the Egyptian ambassador. The clubhouse was rebuilt in the late 1980s using volunteer labour and materials provided by the club members.

The club members came mostly from Kampala, some 30 miles away and provided a social hub, where families could camp, sail and enjoy each other’s company. The Sunday lunches were made by pairs of members on a rota and were very well attended, with up to 50 people coming out from the city.

The club also organised the popular Entebbe Goat Races (think Ascot), sponsored by banks and businesses.

At the end of the sailing season, another aspect of regular immersion into Lake Victoria was less popular; the taking of Praziquantel pills for treatment of Bilharzia. They made the sailors feel feverish and very unwell for upto a week afterwards and were known to the locals as the Crazy Englishmen Pills.

Perhaps we could all use some of those right now.

Next week, my story takes us further down the Nile to Egypt.

Until then, stay sane.

Zippy Zero

The Adventures of Zippy Zero – Zippys Spring Outing

Welcome back all, to the high-flying racing life of Zippy the D-Zero.

I gather that times are hard and you folk need a touch of cheering up, so here is the story of the action on the Dee estuary this past weekend.

The racing was part of an 8-race series, run jointly by the two estuary based clubs; Dee and West Kirby. The first four races set in February had been wiped out by a number of storms, named by the Met Office. Us boats designated our own names, starting with Anxiety, Bellend and Christalmightyhowmuchwind,

I’ve been sitting it out in Owner’s garden tied to a tree and collecting snails, leaves and some interesting fungus on my transom. Talk of garden fever.

Finally Saturday arrived and I was joined by 25 boats for a flighty trip around Commodore Jean-Louis’ quadrilateral course.

The Dart 18 Catamarans from Dee SC were first start; beating across a strong incoming tide to their very own windward mark, placed mid-estuary. The lead boat, sailed by James and Alison Douglas was obviously self-isolating as it moved a healthy distance away from the rest of the fleet to win the first race, ahead of Glyn and Rosie Hughes and in third was singlehander Jon Hayley, who coped admirably in the gusty strong winds.

Next start was ours; the fast handicap fleet, with an eclectic mix of customers, including 2 fireflies; 2 falcons; 3 lasers, a wayfarer and yours truly the wonderful, fast, charismatic and beloved boatanality, Zippy the Dee Zero!

The race was a close tussle at the front, between Ian McLean’s Albacore “Essex Girl” and Jonathan Aitkinson’s Falcon “Nighthawk”. How the Essex Girl would fare under the steely gaze of the Nighthawker was anybody’s guess, but a crewing senior moment in the Falcon resulted in a fumbled slow pole job, which, as every Essex Girl knows, can be a disaster, particularly when trying to get to the finish line.

Meanwhile, the Zippy was in full power overtaking mode; nose well down underwater and waves breaking over the gooseneck, with Owner trying to slither transomwards mumbling something that sounded like Ship Ship Ship.

I did arrive at the fourth mark ahead of the fleet, but failed to cross the finish line, which was cunningly disguised as a rib carrying a dan buoy which had broken its anchor. This also caught out the Essex Lady, who had to perform some interesting manoevers to complete the course. My Owner was oblivious to much at that stage and decided to head home after far too much excitement for one day.

The race was won on handicap by the extremely well-sailed Laser Radial of Ioannis Kousokeras, followed by the full rigged Laser of Stu Dawson and in third was Jon Atkinson’s Falcon.

The third start was the slow handicap, which had a fine turnout of 9 Oppies and a Miracle sailed by Mike and Ann de St. Paer.

George Creasy sailed a fast race to take first place, followed by Patrick Bromilow in second and Holly Wright in third. Olivia Creasy had an unfortunate capsize and showed true grit and tough spirit by completing the race, particularly as she wasn’t wearing a drysuit!

Another star Oppie lady was the youngest competitor, Isobel Sandon, age 9. After a poor start, she soon pulled into 3rd place behind Patrick Bromilow on the first leg. A promising performance indeed for a gutsy young lady in her maiden voyage in her new boat.

The wind piped up between races and then became rather erratic as it swung more Southerly during the next race. I was back ashore, having checked out with the hugely helpful beach crew of Mark Creasy and Steve Ferrington and gave them both salutary Zippy Corona Elbow Bumps as I mooched onto my trolley.

With two more races to go to complete the series, the final scores will be decided in a fortnight. All three classes are still open for a winner, with up to one point separating the top three in fast and slow handicap and close racing with a clear leader in the Cat class.

As for me, I’m off to meet up with the Wayfarer called Maggie from Dee SC. She’s famous to us boats in the boatpark, as her Owner Steve Kirk and crew Dave Heron sailed her from the North Wirral to Anglesey last year. They finished Saturday’s racing with huge grins and a bottle of beer apiece. Now, that’s what I call sailing.

Keep well my friends – and keep at least a  metre behind me at all times.

Until next time, 

Zippy Zero

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