The weekend of 17th/ 18th August saw six D-Zeros travel up to Stonehaven to join Niel Ritchie at the weekend regatta, enjoying their own class start alongside the strong RS 400, RS200, Blaze and Laser fleets.

The forecast was windy, but the hardy D-Zero guys love a blast and the thought of some big North Sea waves, the legendary ASYC hospitality and a few local beers meant the fleet was up from three boats last year to seven.
An enlightening briefing from the club’s commodore and race officer highlighted some brisk winds, big shifts, big gusts, a few lulls, a bit of wind against tide and three races for Saturday, excitement was building! (oh, and by the way guys watch for 180 degree shifts coming out the harbour – SPLASH! )

Photo Copyright Niel Ritchie

The boats launched for a 1.00pm start and even on the beach the boats were proving very keen and trying to jump in without their owners! New man Doug Laurie-Pile from East Lothian Yacht Club was beginning to wonder if his sanity should be questioned, but the other helms were most helpful grabbing his boat periodically as it made a run for the sea. The guys warnings of the size of the waves, the speed of the boats downwind in waves, keep level when gybing, how hard he’d need to hike upwind and the necessity for MORE kicker (no MUCH more!) served to relax and chill his newbie nerves!

Race 1 got off cleanly with Martin Latimer and Billy McCarlie working hard to keep on the heals of a very fast Ian Baillie and an even faster Niel Ritchie (continuing with the form he’d shown at the Nationals– the only one to beat designer Dan Holman don’t you know). Mick Green, Stuart Moss and Doug followed on getting used to the frisky conditions. It wasn’t long before the ranking was set Niel blasted off with Ian biting at his heals, Billy kept overtaking Martin, only to kindly fall in and let him by (often), Mick Green thought Billy was enjoying himself so thought he’d try this swimming lark ….. not fast that Mick! Despite his errant efforts Ian Baillie, in winds that reached a good bit more than 20kts, couldn’t get the better of Niel. We reckon its nothing to do with lack of skill, but more to do with Niel being taller, heavier and, well, lucky! Martin Latimer was 3rd, Billy 4th, Dougie 5th and Mick 6th. Unfortunately, the conditions got the better of Stu who had to retire and wouldn’t be able to race again. Most capsizes of the day went to Billy McC!

Photo Copyright Niel ritchie

Race 2 The waves and wind were building, and the conditions were even more spirited but the remaining 6 D-Zeros were at the line sharpish. From the outset Niel and Ian were battling and no quarter given while the Billy vs Martin battle started all over again. Mick Green was on it and determined to get closer and Doug was getting to terms with the boat and conditions. The wind shifted, lulled, gusted, the waves offshore got bigger and the conditions tested all in winds that maxed in the mid-twenties. The reaches ….. were they fast? …. did the boats fly? …. OH YEAH! The pilots, sorry helms, were having a ball for three laps but again Niel dominated, hotly pursued by Ian, then Billy (who stayed upright this time), Martin, Mick and Doug.

Photo Copyright Niel Ritchie

Race 3 Martin Latimer had stupidly capsized between races and knackered his knee (a returning old war wound!) so he was a DNS for this one (WIMP!). The remaining 5 D-Zeros continued their day of heavy upwind beats and blasting downwind. This time however age and intellect (that’s what Ian would think anyway), and the fact that the wind moderated slightly, got the better of size and fitness and Baillie scored his first win of the day, followed by Niel, Billy and Mick. Doug succumbed to the constant blasting and one last capsize saw him too far off the other boats and he retired. By this time Martin and Stu were in the pub sampling some of the excellent products from local brewer Six Degrees North
Once ashore the D-Zero pilots joined the two shore support D-Zeroists in sampling a few wee pints followed by more beers and a first rate barbeque laid on at the Club by the ASYC stalwarts – it’s really a friendly place ….. no mean, dull Aberdonians here (if such a thing really exists?)
Ian Baillie – DBSC – photo ASYC

Sunday dawned to wild and windy conditions and even bigger waves and the thoughts of an 11.00am start was looking unlikely. After a wee delay the race team went out, while the competitors (those brave enough to even rig, Niel, Ian, Mick and Dougie plus a handful of RS200’s, RS400’s and Blazes and Lasers) were held on the beach. Was the launch of the Lifeboat a precautionary act or were the crew going out for a practice?? It was decided to release the boats and try to go for a race but judging by the number of capsizes on the way to the start by all the crews it was going to be “ a wee bittie steamy oot thar, ken” (that’s Aberdonian for fffing crazy). Crews enjoyed multiple blasts and swims before the race office had to can racing for the day, before even a gun could be fired (well hooter hooted) – All Ashore!

Photo Copyright Niel Ritchie

All in all, a fantastic regatta by one of the friendliest clubs – we’ll be back. The D-Zeros will live to fight another day at the Largs Regatta, The Northern Champs (PYC) and the Winter Open (6 weekends at Largs SC).

PositionSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Points
1306Niel RitchieASYC1124
2180Ian BaillieDBSC2215
3265Billy McCarlieLSC43310
457Martin LatimerLSC34DNC15
5182Mick GreenRSVC65415
6238Doug L PileELYC55DNF19
7251Stuart MossLSCDNFDNCDNC24