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What age is best to start foiling?

by Mark Jardine (with thanks to Peter Barton) 28 Oct 2011 12:33 BST 21 October 2011

At what age is it best to have your first go on a foiling Moth? For Stuart Jardine it has proved to be 78! Last Friday, Stuart took Peter Barton’s Mach2 for a spin in a perfect 12 knot breeze as part of a challenge by a fellow Lymington XOD sailor.

As Stuart explains; “Richard Field, the XOD Historian, approached me two months or so back with the Challenge that if I would have a go in a foiling Moth and get flying successfully then he would have a race in the trial XOD N1 Xoanon.

“Up until now Richard has refused to accept Xoanon as his idea of what an XOD is, and we were saying that is all well and good but the class would still now be gaff rigged and we would have had no Centenary to celebrate if there hadn’t been changes down the years!

“So when Richard came up with the Challenge I accepted and approached Peter Barton, currently the best Lymington foiling moth owner. He immediately agreed and so then we had to find a suitable date with a bit of flexibility to allow for the weather.”

An escort RIB was set up from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, and Peter prepared his Moth. Rory Paton, the Lymington XOD Divisional Captain also wanted to have a go, and of course Richard was present to witness the event.

Stuart got foiling on his first attempt, but it has been about 20 years since he last capsized and he forgot to let go of the tiller extension when he did, snapping it over the rack. With a bit of sticky tape fixed to the tiller extension another XOD enthusiast, Rory Paton, then jumped in and joined the 20 knot club during his first minute! Rory was unavailable for comment due to the insane grin that was stuck to his face for the rest of the day.

After his flight Stuart said; “I think it might have been a bit easier if I had done some dinghy racing in the past few years and probably if I’d done this 60 years earlier! My stomach muscles and arms were like jelly after a few big splashes. Re-learning the technique of heeling to windward rather than the other way in keelboats will take a bit of practice. The most noticeable sensation was the complete lack of noise and splashing and speed once airborne - quite unnerving.”

So the challenge took place, and with it Stuart has officially become the oldest foiling moth sailor – taking the record from fellow Lymington sailor Peter Conway who is 77. Peter will re-claim the record in May 2012 if he continues to sail his foiler. Peter’s tip for longevity in the Moth class is, “to keep going - it is only once you stop that you lose the ability and fitness to continue”. Next season will also see Richard Field complete his part of the challenge when he sails Xoanon.

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