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Feb-Nov23 Leaderboard Lasdrop2

Zippy Zero reports from the Regattas at West Kirby Sailing Club and Dee Sailing Club

by Zippy Zero 8 Sep 2023 10:32 BST
D-Zero fleet lined up at West Kirby © Liz Potter

Hello from a very hot Zippy the D-Zero, steaming in the boat park after a delightful sunny weekend of cavorting around the cans with my D-Zero friends in our home open meeting, which was also part of the West Kirby and Dee SC Regattas.

We actually started the event a day early, with a warm up race around Hilbre Island, which was not part of the open meeting, but involved a traditional D-Zero silver trophy, modelled on the large green channel marker HE4, which we usually round on the way. Previous winners of this cup have been Mick Green and latterly yours truly, so the race was on!

Hilbre Island perches welcomingly at the entrance of the Dee estuary, flanked by the smaller islands Middle Eye and Little Eye. The waters around them are so shallow that you humans can walk across the sand from West Kirby to them a few hours after high water.

Ian Baillie had driven all the way from Dalgety Bay, near Edinburgh for his first visit to my home waters, as did John Pickett from Leigh on Lowton. Gordon Stewart from Bedfordshire had been here before, but not around Hilbre and Mick Green from Lancashire was due to arrive for the weekend.

The wind Gods had set us a downwind start to the Islands, so we plotted our path in the shallows to avoid the very strong spring flood tide. The choice of shallows were multiple; mid-channel sandbanks or inshore? The mass fleet start included 20 other dinghies and a fleet of larger local keelboats; the Hilbre and Star classes, which started half an hour before us. In the light winds, the boats spread out quickly and converged again as we approached the Island.

There, the options again were plenty. The turning mark at the far side of the Island was to be left to Starboard, but the Island was considered a mere obstacle!

Ian chose to follow the Falcon sailors on the shore side of the Island, which seemed to have less tide, but also less wind. Gordon hugged the estuary side of the Island and picked up a handy, speedy back eddy, which took him to meet Ian at the mark. I had stayed on the bank in the estuary in more wind, but adverse tide, so missing the sneaky back eddy.

Ian rounded first and, not having a clue what was going on, followed the Hilbre class boats on the estuary side homewards. Gordon rounded second and, not having a clue what was going on, went the opposite way to Ian.

I went around next and, having no clue at all what was going on, led Mick and John around the Island behind Gordon.

Ian had chosen wisely and shot off to our upwind mark, far up estuary from Dee Sailing Club. For the rest of us, it was the longest starboard tack in my living memory. By the time we had passed Dee, the wind had almost died and a stowaway spider had sewn the startings of a web between my mast and wind indicator.

Ian was by then home, showered and supping a cold beer on the slipway, minding our trollies. He won the dinghy race by an impressive 4 minutes in a race lasting over 2 hours from the second placed IC and nearly 17 minutes ahead of Gordon's D-Zero and 22 minutes ahead of me. John wasn't far behind, but failed to pass through the lap line and was kindly diverted back home by the rescue boat before the wind died and tide swept him around Hilbre Island for a second round.

Ian was duly presented with the HE4 trophy and the competitors lounged on the patio with a bbq in the sunshine, late into the evening.

The wind forecast for the entire weekend had looked very light, so the following morning our sailing sec, Mike Hartley kindly offered to run us a few races on the marine lake, to be used as a backup in case the wind failed to arrive.

We completed four short sprint races; three of which were won by Ian and one won by me. I ended the last race swinging on the pin mark by my rudder at the finish, trying to beat Gordon's boat in a tiny gap that the wind didn't allow me to use.

The Owners gathered for a coffee at Mick's van and discussed the morning's efforts. On the slipway, us boats all agreed that the Owners were getting the hang of starting by the last race.

By midday, the water had arrived and we tootled off to sea and a trapezoidal course set by RO Andrew Potter (Owner's Owner and Commodore of DSC.) Of all our starts so far, this had been John's best one and his boat chose this moment to drop it's halyard. It's a trick I tried at the Brixham Nationals last year and was then met with a grumpy, angry helm, so not one I'd recommend. John managed the little problem well though and managed to re-hoist the sail, though it cost him some distance from the fleet.

Ian had a good start and set off crossing tacks with Mick until close to the windward mark, where one good tack by Ian inside Mick, who had overstood the mark slightly, got him through into first. Gordon was close behind Mick on the reach and I was chasing puffily behind. On the third running leg, I managed to sail through the three of them and held onto the lead until the next upwind leg, where Ian passed me as I tacked to cover Mick and Gordon. Mick's boat had convinced him it was the finish after lap 2 and they eased off to practice a few tacks before realising the race was still ongoing. Back at the sharp end, it was Ian with the win from Me and Gordon.

The second race was led by Ian from the start, followed by Me.

Gordon managed to squeeze past me on the third lap to put me in third with Mick and John not far behind.

We boats were showered and returned to the boat park, whilst the Owners travelled to DSC for a huge regatta buffet, the day's prize-giving and a stunning sunset on the cliffside above the Dee estuary.

On Sunday, it was the turn of WKSC to run the regatta. We would be using the 4 results from both regatta days (with 1 discard) as the Open Series decider. In the morning, us D-Zero's had chosen to have another Owner training session on the lake. Lord knows they need it. There was no wind at all, so we sat around with our sails up whilst the Ownerdoms poked, pulled and sweated over us.

Some adjustments were made and one alert Owner even noticed that my top batten wasn't correctly inserted, Thanks Gordon! Mick then performed minor surgery involving a set of keys and a small screwdriver. All without anaesthetic and a kidney-shaped tray to catch the pieces.

By afternoon, a small and sufficient bit of wind had arrived. RO Mike Hartley set up a windward/leeward course close inshore to try to negate the effects of the very strong tide. It was a one-sided beat up the shore, where we all overstood the mark. Ian led the way, followed closely by Me, Gordon and John, finishing in that order too.

For race 2, the tide had slackened a little during the first lap and started ebbing more strongly for laps 2&3. We had a great first start, unlike poor Mick who was over the line and had to return through a tightly packed line of starters. I arrived at the windward mark first, only to be overtaken by Ian with superior downwind boat speed. Gordon was not far behind and we had a battle for overall second place going on between us. With a crafty last run in the shallows out of the tide, I managed to defend our second place by 11 seconds.

Behind us, John was having a tussle with a 420, who had rounded the leeward mark rather better, leaving him an awkward gap on the finish line. His boat stroked the committee boat with its boom as a parting gesture to a wonderful day's racing.

Once ashore, the results were quite straightforward, with Ian winning, my Owner Liz in second, Gordon in third, Mick fourth and John in fifth. Ian was presented with a new D-Zero perpetual trophy for the event. It is small and silver, acquired by Owner on Ebay especially for the occasion. If you look very closely, the inscription reads "Best Alsatian in Show". A worthy winner indeed.

Many thanks to all the helpers, rescuers, feeders, ROs, results team and most importantly the competitors, especially my D-Zero friends who travelled all this way to be with me.

Until we all meet again, stay sane and happy!

Hilbre Island Race Results:

PosFleetClassBoatNameSail NoHelm / CrewClubPYR1
1st D‑ZeroMarvin336Ian BaillieDalgety Bay SC10431
2nd Int Canoe ODBalancing Act275Alex ColquittWKSC9052
3rdCLaser 309Steve JardineWKSC11063
4thBFalconHawk46John BurthemWKSC10604
5thBFalconSooty61Clare WrightWKSC10605
6th Int 420 54463Patrick & David BromilowWKSC10906
7th Int Canoe ODIconic303Steve FlemingWKSC9057
8th SoloSide Winder5794Martin HartleyWKSC11528
9thBFalconWhite Hawk51David TaylorWKSC10609
10thBFalconLanner60Ian ScoulerWKSC106010
11thBFalconIsidor63Peter HealeyWKSC106011
12th A‑Class cat 992Andrew PotterDSC68412
13th D‑Zero 358Gordon StewartNorth Herts EBSC104313
14thCLaser 200643James DouglasDSC & WKSC110614
15thCLaser 156226Matthew WilsonWKSC110615
16th D‑ZeroZippy Zero333Liz PotterWKSC & DSC104316
17thCLaser 195201Ioannis KoutsokerasWKSC110617
18thCLaser 197704Nigel SperringWKSC110618
19thCLaserAlso Ran140029David CaldwellWKSC110619
20thCLaser 126038Bill JohnsonWKSC110620
21stCLaser 212Peter JonesWKSC110621
22nd Laser 2000Fezziwig21656Julia NealWKSC1095RET
22ndBFalconHawkwind55Jamie MarstonWKSC1060RET
22nd D‑ZeroAzure314John PickettLeigh & Lowton SC1043NSC
22ndCLaserSpeedy P203289Paul BraybrookWKSC1106RET

D-Zero Open Meeting Results:

PosBoatNameClassSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1stMarvinD‑Zero336Ian BaillieDalgety Bay SC‑11113
2ndZippy ZeroD‑Zero333Liz PotterWKSC & DSC2‑3226
3rd D‑Zero358Gordon StewartNorth Herts EBSC‑32338
4th D‑Zero344M GreenLeigh & Lowton SC‑444412
5thAzureD‑Zero314John PickettLeigh & Lowton SC‑555515

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