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Zippy Zero reports from the D-Zero Northern Championships at Annandale Sailing Club

by Zippy Zero 2 May 08:52 BST 27-28 April 2024
D-Zero Northern Championships at Annandale © Tony Wadlen

It's a big hello from Zippy the D-Zero in my first report of this year. The event was the D-Zero Northern Championships, held at a new venue for us at Annandale Sailing Club, 4 miles West of Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

The nearby local town of Lochmaber was a key player in the Wars of Independence between the Scots and the English in the 13th century and clearly, there was more than just a bit of sailing at stake last weekend, with four Scottish entries and four English competitors fighting for glory and the Northern Championship Trophy!

In the briefing, Race Officer Chris Nurney advised us all of the hazards we might encounter, including a submerged pipe surrounded by rocks, an Island with submerged causeway that we were not to cross on any account and plenty of oozing mud at the bottom of the shallow Loch, should we capsize. There was something else about "no turtles", but I was already putting together my plan of entertainment for the weekend.

The wind on Saturday was light and a tad shifty. I set up a strong lead, with my awe-struck helm Liz Potter. On the third lap, final beat, with the finish line in sight, I stumbled onto the pipe rocks and Owner had to get out in calf deep water to turn me around, after lifting my foils and having lots of Words. There, I watched most of the fleet pass. Life sucks, folks.

After my little Horn "Pipe" dance, I rejoined the back of the fleet and saw Jon Bassett win the race from Tom Southwell (the longest distance traveller at 371 miles) and our home club host D-Zeroist Richard Bryant in third.

The second race started with a new course; slightly shorter up the loch to suit the lighter winds. Those light winds shifted often to shuffle the D-Zero pack order, but the stars of this show were Gordon and Billy McCarlie. I watched in great amusement as Gordon tried to tack on top of Billy. Like a handbrake turn it was, in slow motion.

Of course Billy continued to power on and up, until Gordon's boom joined Billy on the side deck, then in his cockpit, then in his sail. By sheeting out to avoid a capsize, Gordon steered Billy's boat into a graceful pirouette; a Pas de Deux. With the dance competition hotting up, I was looking to collect a fourth, only to be pipped by Richard and Gordon Stewart on an unbelievably unfair wind bend to leeward of me.

It never came my way. Just ahead of me, Jon, Ian and Tom scraped through the finish line on the old wind. Yeah, life sucks.

A new course went up for Race 3. Jon had used up a fair bit of luck and now sailed at the back of the fleet for a while. Tom and Ian took the lead to finish first and second and I snuck in behind them with a handy third.

That concluded the day of the ballet pumps and twinkle toes dance contest, with the Scots (Jon) and English (Tom) drawn on 6 points apiece.

The Owners gulped down an ale on the slipway and were treated to a fabulous curry in the clubhouse, thanks to the club members catering team!

By Sunday, the wind had increased, turned 180 degrees and was now strong enough to warrant some hiking.

In race 4, Gordon won the pin from Ian, who was called OCS. Tom took the lead from Gordon, whilst Richard worked his local knowledge to deal with the blustery wind shifts. Ian, returning to re-start, worked his way through the fleet. Elsewhere, the dancing theme continued. Billy, going upwind on port tack, enabled his mast to do a Highland Fling with Tom's mast (heeled, going downwind on starboard). There was a pirouette as part of this routine of course.

The race was won by Tom, with Ian finishing a credible 2nd after his OCS. In third was Richard.

On my way back to the start line for Race 5, I noticed Tom's boat having a little lie down, whilst Tom was enjoying a gentle swim. It was an endearing image. Little did I realise that there was some boaty wardrobe malfunction going on and Tom was trying to bodge a piece of rope for a clew tie-down.

I know it was a bodge, because I saw it explode whilst Tom was to leeward of me at the start. There were Words. Slightly different to the ones my Owner used, but the tone was the same. Tom limped his boat back to base for some A&E treatment (9 hour waiting list!), so that was the end of his Championships.

Back on the race course, Jon, Gordon and Ian pushed ahead to establish a good lead in front of Richard, Billy, Me and Mick. On the last run, the wind ran out for the leaders, whilst we brought our own wind to the party. There was a bit of a Ceilidh at the leeward mark and a few pointy noses were inserted where they weren't due, but Jon held on to win from Gordon and Ian.

By the last race, the wind shifts were violent and sudden. A huge header caused chaos on the start, but we tacked off sharply. From here, I could see Mick Green walking his boat over a submerged group of rocks, presumably looking for a nearby castle or something. Mick looked like he was attempting some sort of break-your-ankle-between-the-rocks dance, which should have seen his entry validated in the competition. I yelled some encouragement, but the wind whisked my words away.

On the final downwind leg, I was doing okay and looking for a best result of day, so Owner chose to retract an unwise chunk of foil and apply some mega-heel for some superwhizz.

Before I could say "I don't think so, Mrs", there was a load bang (my mast whacking the water) and much laughter from all those around us. I sunk my mast head underwater in shame, until the new sail was sunk a foot deep into the muddy sediment below.

It was one of the best spas I've had yet. Once I'd scooped my irate Ownership up, I tried to share the experience with her by showering great clods of gloop from my mast onto my decks and on her head. Appreciation is not always her thing, but she smelt great for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, Ian was finishing the final race with his first win, followed by Jon in second. Next over the line was Billy, with a satisfying Do-Si-Do port cross over rival Gordan; poetic justice for the earlier misdemeanour.

So ended a weekend of racing, with Jon Bassett crowned as Northern Champion and with Ian Baillie in second and Richard Bryant in third.

In the greater scope of things, the Scots took the first three places to put a comma behind 700 years of scrimmage in Dumfries and Galloway. Sorted.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1306John BassettLargs1141126
2336lan BaillieDalgety Bay42223110
3189Richard BryantAnnandale Sailing Club34534519
4328Thomas SouthwellLee on the Solent23159920
5358Gordon StewartNHEBSC75742422
6265Billy McCarlieLargs68665326
7333Liz PotterWest Kirby56376727
8344Mick GreenLeigh & Lowton87887636

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