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Allen Brothers

The World according to a British 'International' Moth

by Simon Hiscocks 9 Mar 07:36 GMT
Simon Hiscocks, GBR 4772, on day 3 of the Wetsuit Outlet and Zhik International Moth World Championship 2023 © Mark Jardine / IMCAUK

Unseasonal weather conditions in June last year proved to be a challenge for the International Moth World Championships held on the waters of Portland Harbour from the National Sailing Academy more commonly known as WPNSA. With the Azores high temporarily located over Iceland, unusual wind conditions were being reported from multiple sailing venues across Europe and the east coast USA.

A disappointing event with just 2 races to show for a week of effort, just a year previously the British Nationals were blessed with thermal conditions driving classic south westerly sea breezes, 'it's not normally like this here' was a mute point as the many visitors reminded the locals that "they had noticed it wasn't raining".

With the next World Championship moving to New Zealand at the end of this year, in fact, to split hairs it goes beyond into early 2025. The 2024 season might seem to be missing a big target event.

However just over 12 months away is the 2025 worlds in Garda. It is traditionally a big event for the Moth class, post Olympics and America's Cup, it normally attracts a large proportion of individuals who might class themselves as 'the best in the world', indeed it often proves to be the event that defines who can lay claim to that title.

With some noticeable British sailors amongst this elite group, Paul Goddison 3 x world titles, Dylan Fletcher-Scott with 1 and Giles Scott with some pedigree to suggest he could join this list. All of this group of course already hold Olympic Gold Medals and might also harbour hopes of joining an even smaller group of international sailors to have also held the America's Cup. Their commitments to the Ineos and American Magic teams might be keeping them occupied for most of this season, but it hasn't diminished there love of Moth racing as Dylan alludes, "Racing in the Moth class, competing against the world's finest sailors in some of the most coveted venues, it's a brilliant blend of competition all within a vibrant and social atmosphere shared with friends whilst sailing the best boat in the world."

It's a testament that is shared across the fleet for the class is certainly not the sole divide of the pros, as student Alex Barone describes his Rocket R2 as 'a slightly older platform but still quick enough for some competitive racing', he keeps coming back because 'the boats are exciting to sail and the fleet is competitive throughout whilst the people you meet are really friendly' Alex's favourite event is Foiling Week in June, one of the highlights of the European season, but it's not all happening 1000 kilometres away.

Much closer in fact at Rutland Sailing Club, where the season kicks off over the Easter holiday weekend with a training day run by Ross Harvey. Followed over the weekend by the Noble Marine Northern Moth Championships, try pronouncing that abbreviation. Only a true southerner can call Rutland Northern, and for that we all hold our hands up and apologies.

Ross, who is taking a break from running the SailGP Inspire program, has a number of training days in the calendar. His coaching reputation is well known, as are his own skills in the Moth, being a regular threat to the front of the fleet. With his new work life inside the Maguire Boats factory - building the latest Aerocet Moths and continuing to keep the Exocet fleet well looked after. Ross is very well placed to lead the training program and looks to be a key part of Maguire's regatta support that has seen Simon Maguire become a popular and well known face at Moth championships.

Indeed it is Maguire Boats who are kick starting a new initiative which will see free Nationals entry offered to the leading Mach 2 and Exocet boats, with Noble Marine continuing their backing for the class and fronting up for the Mach 2 prize. The opportunities to race the older designs have never looked better or more enticing. The best two overall results will count from the Rutland Northern and Grafham Inland Championships plus the open meetings at Queen Mary and Portland.

Maguire will continue their support with some impressive value going into the Nationals prizes for the top three Exocets.

With a one day event at Queen Mary in April and prior to a June visit to Grafham for the Inlands, the fleet moves on to the spiritual home of foiling in the UK. The foiling revolution might have been ignited by the Moth class, but foiling has been around Portland harbour for many years, a read of the history of Speed Week will reveal craft such as Icarus, Mayfly and others way back into the 1970s, 30-odd years before the early foiling pioneers started flying their Moths around.

With a near perfect race course and slick race management from the WPNSA team it's a formula that attracts the highest number of entries at Moth events.

However lurking further west is Falmouth harbour, surely a natural rival to Portland. Restronguet is set to host the Moth fleet in the stunning Carrick Roads with course options out on the Falmouth Straits, the 2024 Nationals has all the ingredients to be a standout championship. Chris White has been sailing his Moth in this part of the world for many years and finally the stars have aligned to bring the rest of the fleet down. Chris is a leading example of the home builder's with his Choket design, his answer to what he lost, looks forward to this year was easy - "getting back in the boat after an injury year out and then welcoming the fleet to my home club of Restronguet SC in sunny Cornwall. Hopefully the sun and wind gods align for Falmouth to put on a good show. With the standard of this fleet I can't see the hometown advantage being worth too much though!"

Perhaps not for the big chocolates but certainly for the smaller, and many would say sweeter, chocolates such as the Home Builder Cup there are not many who would bet against Chris and his Choket.

With some impressive prizes on offer for the top 3 Exocet boats and similar for the Mach 2 there really is something for everyone to race for.

The season is far from over with a final flourish back to Portland in September to see what an event currently titled 'Moth Mess' has in store.

There has never been a better time to get involved in this foiling scene with plenty of used boats on the market at remarkably good value. Don't be put off by the talk of Olympians, America's Cup and World Champions, says Kay Myerscough, it also contains 'normal fleet racers but with a spirit of adventure and excitement'.

  • March 29 - Training Rutland
  • March 30-31 - Rutland Northern Championships
  • April 13 - Queen Mary Sprints
  • April 14 - Training Queen Mary
  • May 18-19 - WPNSA Grand Prix
  • June 8-9 - Grafham Inland Championships
  • June 24-30 - Foiling week Garda
  • July 11-14 - Restronguet National Championships
  • September 7-8 - WPNSA Moth Mess

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