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Splicing Companion for Racing Sailors by Gareth Lincoln
Splicing Companion for Racing Sailors by Gareth Lincoln

Moths, Low Riders, Waszps and Grafham midges

by Dan Ellis 17 Apr 2018 09:17 BST 14-15 April 2018
International Moth Grand Prix at Grafham Water © James Sainsbury

A light forecast attracted a different selection of boats to the second Moth Grand Prix event of 2018 at Grafham Water Sailing Club. Sailors had travelled from as far as the depths of Cornwall, the heights of Scotland and even Germany (but without a boat) to attend. Scottish Mothie Paul Hignett had even opted to bring along his Lowrider Moth as opposed to his Foiler with such a light forecast.

Unfortunately, the breeze never reached much over 5 knots on Saturday and still was very patchy on the water, however, the sun was shining, it was hot and the boat park was buzzing. The buzzing was mainly from the annoying Grafham midges, which lingered about in the warm still air. The midges appeared to be most attracted to the colour green and were found all over Dave Hivey's GREEN boat. Along with the midges was a group of Mothies gaining some helpful boat, rig and technique tips in an informal training and Q&A session. There was also the chance to get a closer look and ask questions on the current home build of James Sainsbury's solid winged deck sweeping Valkyrie Moth.

The Lowriders headed out on to the water for a sail, to try and encourage some racing to get under way and to seize the opportunity to get around the racecourse quicker than the Foilers.

The race committee did hang around all day to see if the wind did increase, but by 4pm it was called off for the day. The Sailors all then attended the nearby Wheatsheaf pub, where the patio had been reserved for the evening dinner and social, which was enjoyed by all.

Sunday's forecast was looking much better, and all were rigged early and keen to get on the water as the race committee had planned to get as many races in as possible to make up for Saturdays lack of racing. The breeze was still very light between 5 to 7 knots, and the visibility was poor with a morning fog present over the water. With the breeze still looking so light, it was even thought Dylan Fletcher made the decision to sail on small hydrofoils for the day based on the fact they would cause less drag when low riding (not foiling)...

All boats were set to start together on one start line with the Foilers sailing to a separate windward and spreader mark giving them a bigger course. The use of the U flag for the days racing was set to try and get racing away clean and quickly. This made starting very tricky for the Foilers, as they needed to remain below the start line during the pre start, in amongst the Lowriders and the Waszps where the breeze was disturbed as well as light, fickle and all in a confined space.

Race one got under way in what was the steadiest and strongest breeze seen during the day. The poor visibility did make it difficult for the Foilers to find the windward mark the first lap around which in the steady 12 knot breeze saw many foiling tacks as the leading bunch closed in on the lay lines. This leading bunch remained tight and continued to do battle through the rest of the race without dropping off the foils. At the finish it was Ross Harvey in the lead, closely followed by Dave Hivey, Dan Ellis and Dylan Fletcher.

The breeze then dropped and became patchier across the water as it swung round to the right. The course was adjusted to the new wind angle and the start of race two saw its first victim to the U flag. A similar bunch of boats led the fleet, but this time in the more marginal conditions the fun and games of snakes and ladders began, as boats began to drop off the foils. Lots of place changes took place with Dylan Fletcher taking the win, this time followed by Ross Harvey and then Dave Hivey.

Race 3 saw even less breeze and bigger holes in the wind. At the start, only two boats got away on the foils. A failed foiling tack by Dan Ellis left just Eddie Bridle foiling off into the distance. Eddie continued to extend before dropping off the foils too. After nearly 2 laps the whole fleet was left just bobbing as that race was abandoned.

This was enough for some as they took the chance to head straight back to the club from the windward mark and call it a day. The race committee did get the race underway once again. Jason Belben took an early lead from Eddie Bridle and that's where they stayed until the finish. After some place changes behind, Ross Harvey took third place, which was enough for him to take the overall win. Eddie Bridle sailed well in his new Exocet to take second overall followed by Dan Ellis in third.

In the Lowrider fleet, Paul Hignett took the overall win, but he didn't have it all his way, with Russell Wheeler taking first place in the final race to finish second overall followed by Martyn Denchfield in third.

The Waszps were seen having some close finishes and had done some low riding and foiling during their races. These two young sailors are future foilers to watch out for in years to come as they get a foiling head start on their generation.

Plenty of photos and video footage can be found from Sunday's on the water action on the UK Moth Class Facebook page.

Next on the calendar is two events in May. A one day event at Hayling Island on the 13th of May followed by a weekend event in the foil town of Weymouth and Portland on the 19th and 20th of May. Portland harbour will provide perfect foiling conditions along with warmer waters to encourage any type of Moth to come along and be part of the foiling fun.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
Foiling Moth Fleet
1st4409Ross HarveyHayling Island SC123 6
2nd4121Eddie BridleBrightlingsea SC642 12
3rd4501Dan EllisYealm YC356 14
4th4350Dave SmithwhiteHayling Island764 17
5th4480Dylan FletcherRTYC41DNC 25
6th10David HiveyDatchet SC23DNC 25
7th3169Brad GibsonBirkinhead RSC10105 25
8th4509Jason BelbenStokes Bay5UFD1 26
9th3592Ian RenilsonDalgety Bay Sailing Club12128 32
10th4293Alex ReidGrafham Water Sailing Club111110 32
11th4279Andrew JarvisOxford SC87DNC 35
12th3890Katie HughesLoch Lomond SC13139 35
13th3945Chris Tilbrook 99DNC 38
14th3914Neil CooneyCarsingtonUFD147 41
15th4136Edward RedfearnBrightlingsea SCUFD8UFD 48
16th4489Chris WhiteRestronguet SC1416DNC 50
17th3761Sam CurtisGrafham Water Sailing ClubDNC15DNC 55
18th4479Adrian CoatsworthAlton Water SCDNC17DNC 57
19th4493Ricky TaggHayling Island SCDNCDNCDNC 60
Lowrider Moth Fleet
1st3029Paul HignettLoch Lomond11‑213
2nd4046Russell WheelerIOSSC‑22125
3rd3941Martyn DenchfieldStaunton Harold SC‑33339
Waszp Fleet
1st2465India Page‑WoodGrafham Water Sailing Club 112 
2nd2394William HeathcoteRoyal Lymington YC 2DNC5 

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