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International Moth Lowrider National Championships at Burton Sailing Club

by John Butler 4 Nov 2021 11:04 GMT 30-31 October 2021

The 2021 International Moth Lowrider UK Championships took place at Burton Sailing Club over the weekend of the 30th & 31st October. 25 boats registered and attended for a thrash around the superb, large, elevated Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire.

The Lowrider fleet was divided into 3 Divisions, with Division 1 being the narrow designs from 1990 onwards, Division 2 the wide bodied and winged boats from 1973-1989, and finally Division 3 the non-winged boats up to 1973.

The Race Officer pleased all the participants present by setting triangular courses, a rare occurrence these days, so tricky upwind legs and blasting reaches were the order of the day in mainly planing conditions.

In the first race, Nigel Williams had a great start off the line and found himself in front. There were plenty of big windshifts and gusts, so along with the others at the front there was a lot of tacking up to the first mark. Nigel was still mixing it with some of the older, wider designs as a few of the leading narrow boats were disadvantaged by big shifts and sticky lulls. Nigel managed to find a way through and escape, whilst the narrow skiffs recovered from their drop-in sessions and got back in the groove again.

Ever consistent in her Skippy 1, Katie Hughes was one of those who kept Nigel honest, and the surprising Division 2 1970's Dragon design of Paul Hignett burst through into third, with Lyndon Beasley in another wider Magnum 7 claiming 4th.

Meanwhile, the Martin Harrison in his Axeman 7 had travelled up from the Isle of Wight and was late arriving, so only just made it to the start area when the gun went off. Sailing conservatively, as this was his first time out in his Lowrider this year, he worked his way back to 5th and was the third of the skinny boats.

In Race 2, there was more wind and excitement at the start when Sam Barker's Warlock took a shine to the committee boat, so those on board were busy repelling his attempt to ram it. Meanwhile, George Edwards showed what can happen when a 17 year old spends the summer grappling a Hungry Tiger by gaining an excellent midline start and holding on to the leading duo for the first two laps.

Of the leaders, Martin had the best of the start and outpointed Nigel to open up a clear lead. He held it comfortably on the two reaches, but on rounding the leeward mark when pulling his kicker on, one of the sheaves exploded, so he kept going as best he could, but it eventually allowed Nigel to get past him upwind after another two reaching legs. Using only mainsheet tension upwind, Martin focused on keeping ahead of Russ Wheeler's Hungry Tiger and Ian Marshall, who was again mixing it with the faster narrower designs in his Magnum, keeping at bay those such as John Edwards in his Hungry Tiger and also Katie's Skippy 1. Martin managed to hold them all off, and almost caught Nigel again when he had a poor tack and got stuck in irons close to the finish line.

The break for lunch allowed Martin to fix his kicker, so when the fleet ventured out again he was primed and ready. At the start gun, just to windward of Nigel, Tom Foxall managed to capsize on the line, causing him and a number of others to take drastic avoiding action. Martin kept clear of the melée and had a reasonable start, but hit a flat spot on the first beat soon afterwards, allowing the recovering Nigel past in a hard fought battle up the beat. On the reach, Martin was nibbling away at Nigel's transom, but reckons that the Axeman 7 has a little sticking point when reaching, which proved to be the case, and he wasn't able to make an impression on Nigel in his Axeman 6 for the rest of the race.

Ian was again up there in 3rd in a wider boat, holding off his main rival Lyndon, and Katie could only muster 5th behind the pair of them.

The breeze initially lightened for the start of the last race, and John Edwards had an awesome port tack flyer of a start, crossing the fleet together with Tom and Russ. Correctly predicting as he crossed that the initial advantage would not last, the main two protagonists chose to start on starboard and keep left, which turned out to be the best tactic, as they got lifted even further on port tack right up to the windward mark.

Showing a speed advantage, Martin got away into a reasonable lead. On the first reach the wind again increased, but he then hit the wake of the lead powerboat, causing a wobbly nose diving moment, which allowed Nigel through and Katie into contention for the lead. The Magnums of both Ian and Lyndon got past Katie in her Skippy at one stage, but Katie and then Russell in the Hungry Tiger restored the pecking order, finishing 3rd & 4th respectively. Of the port tack starters, Tom Foxall in his Magnum 5 eventually had a great tussle with Ian & Lyndon and nudged past them to a respectable 5th, the trio upholding the honour of the wider skiffs in the lighter stuff at the front.

Back in the non-winged division, John Hall was up to that point heading David Balkwill in the fierce contested Duflos vs German Mistral battle, with the Skol 3 of Graham Cooper occasionally joining in the fight, but John relinquished his overall lead when he lost his rudder due to a broken retaining clip, and had to be rescued.

Due to excessive winds of well over 22 knots, gusting to near 40 knots, all racing on the Sunday was cancelled, so the overall results were declared based upon Saturday's race results. Thus "Uncle" Nigel Williams of Bartley SC became the UK International Moth Lowriders National Champion for 2021 with 4 straight wins from Saturday's racing. Nigel also picked up the Veterans trophy for the those aged 60 and over. Second overall was Martin Harrison of Royal Victoria YC, who also picked up the Senior Trophy for those in their 50's, with Katie Hughes from Loch Lomond SC in 3rd and also Ladies Champion. Junior Champion was George Edwards from Abersoch SC in his Hungry Tiger in 11th.

Division 2 winner was Ian Marshall in his Magnum 6, a creditable 5th overall over the water. French citizen David Balkwill in his Duflos took the honours in Division 3, a reward for his amazing effort travelling from Nantes via the St Malo to Portsmouth ferry in wild conditions in the Channel.

Although 25 boats turned up to race, a couple of them only made it to the start line and back, and there were plenty of dunkings and stories to tell throughout the fleet. being told, as for so many of the sailors this was their first and only Lowrider outing of the year. A special mention must go to 17 year old Esther Morrice from Greensforge SC, who in her first time in a big race on large water in her family's Aussie Scow, managed to finish all four races despite limited sailing experience in a Moth Lowrider before coming to the Nationals.

A big thanks to Mike Pain and the Burton SC team who ran the event so efficiently and were superb hosts throughout the weekend, to David Balkwill for his "Moth Bums" Quiz (a series of 21 transom photos of Moth designs through the decades) and to John Edwards for the crazy Prizegiving Ceremony and humorous presentation of certificates and prizes to all. At the prize-giving, John Edwards, Nigel Williams and David Balkwill all heaped praise on the Burton SC volunteers, and David presented the club with a commemorative flag from the Musée Maritime de La Rochelle, where 12 vintage French Moths from well over 60 years ago are displayed, and are raced once a year in an Anniversary Regatta.

Overall Results:

1Nigel WilliamsBartley SCAxeman 698011113
2Martin HarrisonRoyal Victoria YCAxeman 798052226
3Katie HughesLoch Lomond SCSkippy1000265310
4Ian MarshallBowmoor SC and RAFSAMagnum 61080743613
5Russell WheelerIsle of Sheppey SCHungry Tiger980936413
6Lyndon BeasleyGreensforge SCMagnum 71080494715
7Paul HignettLoch Lomond SCDragon (modified)10803891220
8John EdwardsAbersoch SCHungry Tiger98065121021
9Tom FoxallGreensforge SCMagnum 5110010107522
10Iain MacintyreLoch Tummel SCMagnum 9.5 (modified)10208781123
11David BalkwillClub Nautique MazerollesDuflos1130111213932
12George EdwardsAbersoch SCHungry Tiger980131811832
13John HallOxford SCMistral11301211102733
14Graham CooperBradford on Avon SCSkol 311301414141341
15George ColesCarsington SCAxeman 210601513162744
16Sam BarkerNantwich and Borders SCWarlock11201615181546
17Esther MorriceGreensforge SCImperium Scow11301717151749
18Oliver WillisonBeaver SCAxeman 5 (modified)10201816172751
19Graham HughesHayling Island SCMagnum 710802719211454
20Mike PainBurton SCBodge 110002020191857
21Matt PritchardBurton SCSkippy210002727201663
22John ButlerSutton in Ashfield SCUltra Fat Bastard10801927272773
23Mike CaseyBurton SCAxeman 510202721272775
24Greg SterlingGreensforge SCUnskol 311302727272781

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