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International Moth UK Nationals 2023 at the Mount Batten Centre for Watersports, Plymouth

by Jason Belben 28 Sep 2023 10:24 BST 23-24 September 2023
nternational Moth UK Nationals 2023 at Plymouth © @paulgibbinsphotography

The wind gods have not been kind to the Moth Fleet through the Summer of 2023 with a disappointing home Worlds due to lack of wind and numerous other events suffering the variability of the British weather.

With the Worlds this year being on home ground the class decided that for ease of organisation, diversity and those with holiday time constraints the Moth Nationals would be split over two weekends in September.

The first weekend of the 9th & 10th September was at Rutland Sailing Club but, like a bad curse, this was windless too. So the Nationals title was to be decided over one weekend of sailing at the Mount Batten Centre, run by the Plymouth Youth Sailing Club on the 23rd & 24th September.

Expectations were high with many new boats and riders who were yet to have their chance to prove their potential and with a venue that the class were unfamiliar with.

The forecast for the weekend was in doubt with a potential of a storm coming through on Sunday but with Saturday looking good. To this end the decision was to run up to six races on the first day to ensure a good series.

Saturday started with a light easterly breeze but the forecast was good for the afternoon so the choice on equipment was a difficult one, go big on foil and sail, in case the first races were marginal foiling (nothing more frustrating than not being able to foil!) or take the plunge and go small with the conviction that the wind would come in.

As it was with a short postponement the breeze came in from a SW direction force 3-4. This proved to be a good clean direction for wind and waves in Plymouth Sound. This venue presented many interesting tactical decisions with an ebbing tide, high land mass and plenty of other vessel activity in the area.

It was clear from the initial races what the pecking order was going to be; Simon Hiscocks was dominant with boat speed, boat handling and conservative tactics followed by Dave Hivey and Jason Belben trading places, these three swapped podium places during the 20 minute races but through the six races, Simon clearly came out on top.

Such was the direction of the course that it was debatable which side of the beat would come out on best, go left into Jennycliff Bay and pick up a wind bend and favourable current or head far right in clear breeze to pick a stronger current flow through the gap between Drakes Island and Mount Edgcumbe. This was generally resolved by which way the wind oscillated and who did the fewer tacks (after six races foiling tacks became a rarity!).

As the day progressed the wind increased as did the sea state (wind against tide) which made it challenging downwind, the favoured route downhill was towards the shelter of Jennycliff bay avoiding big chop and traffic movement in the centre of the course.

Notably performances were by Ronan Wallace, who had made the trip from Ireland for both weekends, and James Phare, no doubt his big wave experience from Torquay was paying trumps.

Also new faces Sam Whaley and Hattie Rogers (first Lady & first Youth) fresh from the Waszp are ones to watch for the future.

So six races were efficiently completed with all sailors feeling tired but satisfied that they had finally got some descent sailing after some long waits over the Summer.

With the storm forecast for Sunday and Simon clearly winning the day the fleet were happy to make an early decision on abandoning Sunday's racing.

More excellent Paul Gibbins photos available at

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st4772Simon HiscocksHayling Island SC‑1111115
2nd4968David HiveyWPNSA222‑43211
3rd4990Jason BelbenStokes Bay‑33322313
4th4848Ronan WallaceWHBTC4443‑6419
5th4951James PhareRTYC5‑6564525
6th4734Sam WhaleySwanage SC98‑1255633
7th4938Gareth DaviesStone SC‑85677833
8th4976Hattie RogersRLym YC77788‑937
9th4905Jeremy HartleyStokes Bay1091010‑111150
10th5012Andrew JarvisOxford SC11119(DNF)13751
11th4719Graham ????Brightlingsea‑1210119121052
12th4713Bella Fellowes ‑151281291354
13th4808Sam CurtisBSC6(DNC)DNC11101259
14th4758Eddie GatehouseHayling Island SC13(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC93
15th4966David SmithwhiteHayling Island SC14(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC94
16th4706Alexander BaroneCardiff Uni SC16(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC96
17th4992Dan WardStokes Bay(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC100
17th4826Steve McleanHayling Island SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC100

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