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D-Zero National Championship 2021 at Largs Sailing Club - Runners & Riders

by Martin Latimer 9 Aug 19:27 BST 20-22 August 2021
Recent class win for D-Zero 305 – Niel Ritchie - at the 2021 Largs One Design Regatta © Hilary Connelly / LSC

The D-Zero RSK Nationals is nearly here and a big thanks to the RSK Group for stepping up as title sponsor, Tunnocks for sponsoring the live tracking provided by Sail Racer, to the class for prizes and photography by Tim Olin and of course for the phenomenal amount of work already carried out by the volunteers of Largs Sailing Club to prepare for the 2021 RSK D-Zero Nationals.

We're now at 56 confirmed entries, 30% up on the last Nationals at Weymouth and no doubt partly due to David Valentines, our erstwhile dealer's ability to charm large amounts of cash out of unsuspecting sailors banks accounts! All of are enjoying racing D-zeros and undoubtedly another reason for the record entry. Now with all these entries you might be thinking about topping the charts, but as a past Champion, Steve Bolland, says "it's never looked more difficult to get a top ten result!" As usual there'll be great racing through the fleet, here's a few pointers as to why the route to winning this years Nationals will be a tough one:

In prime Spot - Dan Holman, or designer chap, who, at Weymouth, showed us all how to sail really downwind fast whilst hardly ever pointing at the next mark, until of course he went round it in first place many times! Two times D-Zero National Champ, renowned I14 helm and known to have been none to shabby in a laser Dan has to be the guy with the largest target on his back. Will he be 3rd time national champ, well not if some of the other hot-shots have their way?

Next... well this guy needs no introduction... a certain Mr Nick Craig has decided to honour us with his presence. Never heard of him? Well you clearly never read Yachts and Yachting, you've never sailed an OK (past World Champ +), RS400, D-One etc. He is an Endeavour Trophy 4 time winner and has numerous pots in other classes. He has shown top sailors the way to go and how to hike "really" flat all too often!

Sail Racer says - Nick Craig is one of Britain's most successful sailors, and arguably the country's most successful amateur dinghy sailor... Mmmm might be hard to beat?

Steve Bolland - A three times RS300 National Champion and 2018 D-Zero National Champ with a 2nd in the 2019 nationals, this bloke is now also a super athlete and super fit after some serious distance running over the last 18 months. Steve is probably even more than capable of taking top spot, "Hope having a target on you back doesn't make you nervous", Steve, and please stay away from the Stella and the wild night spots of Largs if you plan to unseat Dan! Steve'll say he's out of practice, but don't believe a word of it.

Storky McLaughlin - Flies, downwind in any conditions and upwind in the light, has a nose for wind and shifts and just when you think you've caught him up, he finds second gear and flies away... a difficult and canny old bird, when not on the water he can be spotted quietly munching on McDonalds, the breakfast of champions, or stealing a sly late night Chinese takeaway! He is the current RS300 champion, having won in 2019, and is no slouch in any boat.

Stacey Bray - Generally fast, this big guy makes no fuss and is always there to be reckoned with. He could quietly sneak in to the top places with a run of consistent results. All round nice guy and deserves a good position. He could well qualify for furthest travelled, but that's probably not on his target list for the event.

Neil Ritchie - Another quiet giant, always there or there abouts and if recent form is anything to go by, a win at Largs one design regatta and second at West kirby, he's rounded off his game to be competitive in light and heavy weather. A very likely top ten contender.

Tom Southwell - The Fleets "Poster Boy", or used to be anyway. Tom has a great turn of speed and has been known to mix it up in the front of the fleet. Don't discount this guy.

David "tin man" Valentine - Well he should be fast, as dealer he gets his choice of equipment and boats and get to "fix" any contender's boats at the point of supply... Naaa not really! Dave has been increasingly gaining in speed and consistency and given some decent wind could be up near the top. If you're in front of him on the nationals results tables at Largs don't let him fix your boat in the dingy park.....

John Bassett - Had a slight dip in form early this year but is back up to speed, he just made the top ten at the 2019 Nationals and could figure well in medium conditions. Be polite to John on the start-line and mark roundings as he's the Director of RSK Group that got us our sponsorship.

Ian Baillie - A new man on the D-Zero runners and riders list, he's the professor of our fleet, and fully understands how to make a boat go fast. He's another fast RS300 hundred sailor, 5 times Scottish Champion, and one time RS300 National Champion he can fly in all conditions and when its tricky he'll always find the right way to go... definitely one to watch.

Gavin Fleming - Our current Inland Champion has a good turn of speed up his sleeve and could turn in some strong results, a bit of a dark horse in the fleet and let's see is he can shine at this years Nationals?

So having picked some of the likely top ten finishers I have to say that there's been a serious lift in performance throughout a large part of the fleet and certainly in Scotland there's some new guys who are yet to show their true form at open meetings or nationals; be prepared for some surprises from the lesser known faces. Racing is going to be hot at Largs this year, so lets keep our fingers crossed for great sailing weather, great socials are a given of course.

Roll of Honour - D-Zero National Champions:

  • Dan Holman - 2015
  • Ian Morgan - 2016
  • George Cousins- 2017
  • Steve Bolland - 2018
  • Dan Holman- 2019
  • No Event - 2020

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