Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik 2024 March - LEADERBOARD

DragonForce 65 and DragonFlite 95 TT at Blithfield Sailing Club

by Nick Woodhead, Alastair Reid, & Darrin Ballington 29 Feb 09:49 GMT 24-25 February 2024
DF TT at Blithfield © Nick Woodhead

Sailors Trade Sea Legs for Joystick Fingers, and Mother Nature Joins the Fun

Blithfield Reservoir emerged as the spirited host for a captivating weekend long DragonForce (DF) TT on the 24th and 25th of February. The Midlands Area Club, known for its welcoming Clubhouse and expansive waterways perfect for wind-powered activities, enthusiastically welcomed the challenge.

A little history for those of you may be unfamiliar with radio sailing.

A relatively new series in the UK, the DF TT Series it has built on the global success of the DF racing boats, and brought radio sailing to the wider sailing community, the Model Yachting Association has been organising events for over 110 years, but for many it was an unknown gem in the world of competitive sailing. The introduction of the DF racing yachts has changed that. With over 40,000 boats now on the water globally the sport of radio sailing is now firmly on the sailing map!

The DF yachts, 65 and 95, are now sailed at many sailing clubs across the country and whether attracting new skippers to a club, or extending the competitive sailing of existing members, radio sailing is now seen as another offering for watersport venues, and the appeal of the DF yachts is a key factor in this.

The DF TT Series is the pre-eminent one make series in the UK and travels around the clubs of the MYA throughout the year giving skippers old and new the chance to pit their skills against fellow enthusiasts.

As participants gathered on a brisk Friday night, a chilly wind from the Southwest set the scene. A select few took the opportunity for a quick test sail, while others parked their motorhomes, signalling the beginning of an exciting weekend.

Saturday morning brought mist and a predicted 1-2 knots of wind, with 35 eager skippers filling the car park. The Race Team, led by Darin Ballington, demonstrated patience as they waited for the elusive breeze. Eventually, a whisper of wind graced the reservoir, marking the commencement of racing with A+ Rigs universally adopted. The sun broke through, lifting the mist and setting the stage for a vibrant day of competition. Well, that was the plan...

The weather gods had decided differently, and the race team of Darin, Alastair Reid and John Smith were kept busy gazing at the skies and the water to find breeze. They never really managed to get the timing right, with the little breeze always switching off just as the countdown went on. A frustration for skippers and race teams alike.

The basic lack of breeze led to constant changes of direction and large holes which even the small lightweight DF65's could not deal with. The thoughtful inclusion of free hot drinks and the beautiful weather kept everyone's frustrations at bay on what can only be described as a very testing day. With only 4 heats completed giving 2 completed races in the day the results were always going to be tight, and Nigel Brown, John Tushingham and Olly Murray came out at the end of the day as the top 3, although a quick look at the results show places were tight all the way down the fleet.

At the prize-giving Alastair was comforted by the fact that the weather had been exactly as forecast and with this he confidently predicted that this would be the same on Sunday with a nice Easterly of around 10knots for those racing.

Sunday saw over 40 competitors gearing up for DF95 racing with winds ranging from 5 to 9 knots from the East, just as promised the evening before.

The larger dimensions of the DF95 boats added an element of spectacle to the races. The wind, steady in an Easterly direction by lunchtime, presented challenges at the leeward gate due to the foreshortening effect. With the wind intensifying to a steady 9 gusting 21 knots, skippers showcased strategic acumen, opting to stick with A Rigs for all 21 heats. John Tushingham claimed victory, followed by Derek Priestley and Peter Baldwin, showcasing the serious competitive spirit of the sailors.

In the realm of competitive RC sailing, the Blithfield DF TT carved its own niche, blending elements of challenge, camaraderie, and skill.

At the prize-giving Darin thanked the club and its volunteers for giving of their time and reminded everyone that without these kind people on the water, in the galley or just helping with parking none of us would be able to go sailing.

A big thanks to all at Blithfield.

There are 3 ladies who we need to mention, they kept the fleet board running, kept the score sheets flowing and got the PRO out of trouble a few times with the concentration and dedicated to the task. Every race was timed, start and finished noted, and when the course went to 3 laps they even counted the leaders around each lap. Thanks to the stars of the scoring; Judith Baldwin, Tracey Ballington and Penelope Ballington without you the PRO would have been lost.

The success of an event can only truly be known when the next event comes around, well I think we can say that the entry for the 2024 DF TT Series answered any questions and after only two events the club is on the circuit. Blithfield SC is a fantastic place to sail with a very friendly atmosphere and welcoming hosts but if you are a full-size dinghy sailor you probably already know this.

Hopefully see you again in 2025.

Related Articles

Radio Sailing at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show
Four road bollards as marks in a 40' square pool I am always amazed at how a piece of water approx. 40ft by 40ft with four road bollards as marks with six DF65 craft sailing round in circles can provide so much entertainment to so many, both young and old. Posted on 1 Mar
RPAYC head to the DF65 Worlds
With fast growing fleet of DF65 racers The Dragonforce 65 (DF65) is arguably the fastest growing fleet at RPAYC. The RPAYC fleet started on 24 November 2022 with 10 boats and has grown to almost 40, with 15-20 racing each week. Posted on 7 Feb
MYA RG65 Nationals 2023 at West Kirby
Graham Elliott wins the title on a challenging weekend Fifteen RG65 sailors finally made it to the starting line for the first race of this years RG65 Nationals being held at West Kirby Marine lake after moving the event from the Birkenhead Lake. Posted on 27 Sep 2023
DF Racing TT Rounds 5 & 6 at Eastbourne
A weekend of lots of model yacht racing, meals out and banter Let's begin of Friday, it was a lovely day, plenty of warm autumn sunshine and a great day for sitting at The Perch café opposite the club and chewing the fat with friends as they arrived. Posted on 12 Oct 2021
2021 RG65 GBR Nationals at Keighley
An entry of 17 boats with 9 different designs sailing The 2021 RG65 GBR National Championships were hosted by the Keighley club over the weekend of the 18th and 19th September and saw an entry of 17 boats with 9 different designs sailing. Posted on 21 Sep 2021
DF65 Nationals at Poole
56 radio skippers bask in sunshine and light winds After our last outing at Weecher back in July, the DF65 Nationals at Poole Radio Yacht Club would be the first run out for many of the UK's skippers since West Lancs way back in February 2020 before the world changed. Posted on 8 Sep 2021
RYA Dinghy Show Exhibitors' Model Yacht Race
Fast, furious and a lot of fun! On Sunday 1st March at the RYA Dinghy Show 2020 the YachtsandYachting com RYA Dinghy Show Exhibitors' Model Yacht Race was held at on the boating pool at Alexandra Palace. Posted on 13 Mar 2020
Radio controlled sailing at North East Clubs
Growing in popularity and becoming a positive pathway for retaining older members A club in north Yorkshire has seen radio controlled sailing growing in popularity and becoming a positive pathway for retaining older members and gaining new ones. Posted on 17 Feb 2020
Radio Sailing Pool at Southampton Boat Show
Free to all visitors in the heart of the Arena area Visit our fantastic Radio Sailing School feature in the heart of the Arena area of the show. Posted on 4 Aug 2019
Ripon SC's One Big Day Start of Season Event
Events, activities, information and introductions Ripon Sailing Club marked the start of their main season on Saturday 23 March with One Big Day of events and activities. Posted on 1 Apr 2019