Hi Folks, it’s Zippy the D-Zero reporting back after a visit to Prestwick in Scotland. Why the tropics I hear you ask? 24 degrees in Scotland at the end of September is as good as tropical, as far as my Northern Tundra cousins are concerned. My Owner nearly made the big mistake of not going, as the long-range forecast was showing gusts of 30 knots for the weekend. I shuddered to think of what might happened if we hadn’t gone…
As we English boats well know, the Scottish D-Zero fleet are descendants of an ancient group of Scottish warriors. From my research, it is unclear whether these are the Picti, who went into battle naked to show off their tattoos, or the Gallowglass, who were mercenaries that went into battle “pycked and scelected men of great and mightie bodies, crewell without compassion.” Yeah, that sounds like our guys.
The mercenaries sent word by Apple that my absence would be dealt with in the harshest manner. The nightmares about the Cumbrae crocodile came back to haunt me and I got hold of Owner’s Apple to confirm our entry. We travelled the next morning, Friday, and arrived in time for a little practice sail in a pleasant breeze. Once ashore, a few more boats arrived, and the Owners sat on the balcony quaffing cold ale and chewing on roasted body parts of absconding English competitors. My mates and I lay beneath the balcony ogling at the 3D sunset over the Isle of Arran on the Big Screen out to sea. Spectacular!
The next morning, more boats arrived until we totalled 16! The locals had maximised their numbers as much as possible by loaning out unused boats, which would otherwise have had to sit it out, watching from under the balcony. These happy, fulfilled D-Zeros were now busy trying to recruit new Owners! In fact, one sailor went on to buy one after the weekend! With racing starting at 1pm, there was plenty of time for Owners to do surgical rounds; poking and prodding at us all to see who had the coolest gear. My Owner got Doc Martin (Latimer) to fit a new traveller on me – an operation he completed with skill and sensitivity that defied his manly stance and compact toolbox. Thanks Man! Owner owes you a beer!
Finally, I was ready for the big launch. I was pushed off my comfy trolley onto the sand, whilst Owner dealt with my wheels. Left rigged and unattended with some of my naughtier buddies, I did some super-twirlies and filled my cockpit with sand via my open transom. Upon return, Owner had plot loss with me and the state I’d got myself into. I continued playing, accidently swiping at her head with my boom and flicking sand in her hair. One look at her face said it all. OMG MUM!!!!
No sense of humour has my Owner. She immediately banned me from writing the sailing report. Ooops – over to Her Toityness.
Sorry people. Owner Liz here. I’ve had to pick up the pen, as my boat was having an adolescent moment on Saturday and was temporarily banned from writing until it had an attitude re-adjustment.
I will take up the tale from here. The Saturday wind was offshore, and we set off on a gentle run which increased as we approached the start boat. After that, there were some huge gusts requiring full concentration to avoid an accidental capsize. I tried to land some water on Zippy’s deck to remove some of the cockpit sand dunes which had collected there during Zippy’s pratting around session on the beach. By the first start, the weather theme was set; shifty, gusty and very unpredictable. Above us and a boat length ahead, I could see Alistair McLaughlin’s boat, with it’s charismatic “S” on the sail, for Scottish Champion. Also “S” for Storky, his fleet name and, on this occasion “S” for Slightly Over the Line, resulting in an OCS. The boat carried on oblivious; a loose runner in the Grand National of tricky wind shifts, showing the way for followers Martin Latimer, who arrived first at the windward mark, Jon Bassett (who performed the first capsize of the day) and Niel Ritchie. Latimer lost a magnificent 7 places on the next beat, in an evil shift which favoured boats on either side of him, leaving him floundering in his own vacuous channel.
The second race started in a dwindling wind, which was now battling 180 degrees against a sea breeze which was trying to fill in under the tropical conditions. Before long, the Stork had flown and was already on the second leg of the course, whilst the chasing pack of Ritchie, Bailey and Alan Henderson were approaching the windward mark in different wind on a run. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet were still battling upwind in the gradient breeze.
The race became a jumble of shifting boat numbers, as the battle of the breezes continued to wreak havoc, favouring one boat and then another. Storky took the early break from the pack and went on to win by a large margin.
The wind continued to oscillate and drop, until to the relief of most, the RO postponed the final race and we headed back to the club for a well earnt beer and curry. In the twilight hours of another rosy sunset over Arran, with a cold beer in my hand, I forgave my boat for being a twat and re-instated its editorial privileges. Over to you, Zippy the Zero.
On Sunday morning, the fine weather had broken. The Easterly wind had a touch of South in it and, with that, the promise of a more consistent breeze, though lighter.
The four races were dominated by the home club’s Stork, who went on to take the series, hot on the success of his RS300 National Championship victory a few weeks earlier. The slippery little fella couldn’t be touched for speed or wiliness, even though he was sailing someone else’s boat!
Ian Baille from Dalgety Bay managed to take a couple of wins to finish as a well-deserved runner-up, followed by John Basset from neighbouring club Largs, with a consistent collection of 2nd and 3rds.
Niel Ritchie from Aberdeen and Stonehaven came 4th overall, after a strong start on day one, but fell victim to a few dodgy shifts towards the end of the series. I did see him pop a little turtle practice in between races and can confirm that he moves surprisingly well for a Gallowglass Scottish Warrior.
Owner’s fellow Englishman, Mick Green, who had travelled over 180 miles from Rossendale Valley SC was the first Englishman in a creditable 7th place, and, as such, made a quick retreat South of the border to avoid being offered up as bar snacks at the next Scottish meeting.
We finished a tactical mid-fleet in 8th place, to avoid the wrath of the fierce warriors and naked tattoo flashers and set off to complete the 568 mile round trip home.
Thank you to a very hospitable club and to their kind members who gave the visiting Owners somewhere to stay, so they didn’t have to sleep with me and my mates under the balcony.
Thank you to a very slick and efficient race team who knew that when the fun stops STOP. That doesn’t apply to my Owner, who should lighten up a bit.
The full results can be found by clicking here.
Until next time, toodles,