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Marginal Moth Racing at International Classes Regatta

by Scott Sharpe on 5 Dec 2012
Phil persists with the right side of the course. - International Classes Regatta Jeff Spence
This past weekend saw Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club run another very successful International Classes Regatta. For the second time, the WA Moth class took part in the event, hoping to show the other classes that we can race too! The other classes included Mirrors, 420s, Lasers, 29ers, Flying 15s, Contenders, Optimists and Open Bics. Six Moths showed up on Saturday morning for the first session, but sadly the breeze didn't really want to make the effort.

Saturday morning had a 6-10 knot breeze that was swinging and filling in from different places around the course, making for some difficult racing. As luck would have it, there was a gust on the start line that helped the fleet get away on our first and only race of the session, all six boats foiling happily. The first upwind was quite close, with wind shifts rearranging the places many times before the top mark. Eventually, Gareth Jackson led around the top mark the first time, followed closely by Max Puttman and then Phil Smith. Max got a gust that kept him foiling to the bottom mark, while everyone else was becalmed. Eventually some pressure started filling in again, allowing John Ilett to come tearing down the course and closing the gap between himself, Scott Sharpe and Phil.

After courageously hitting the starboard lay line of the bottom mark, Phil had a spectacular crash trying to gybe at the mark and let Scott and John slip past him. The breeze then swung to the left and the course became less about strategy and more of a simple drag race. A final squirt of wind carried Scott down the last downwind to pass Gareth and be right on Max's tail as they both crossed the finish line, while the rest of the fleet were left to try and low ride it to the finish. Having not read their sailing instructions carefully, Phil and John tried to finish through the start line and ended up running out of time when they tried to go back.

Arriving back at the beach, an error of judgment saw Max hit the beach with far too much speed and do enough damage to end his regatta. Sometime after leaving RFBYC, Gareth had such a wild time that he was too hung-over to sail on Sunday, so only four boats started on Sunday.


Sunday morning brought a nicer 6-12 knot breeze. More inconsistent, but thankfully the gusts were large enough to allow for the whole fleet to foil, even Colin Spence! The top mark was placed further to the left and more inside the bay, meaning that the top of the course was often dead calm and very difficult to negotiate. The importance of overshooting the mark and coming in on the foils was paramount and John did this very thing to pass Scott at the top mark in the first race. With some lucky gusts going downwind, Scott got back in front, only to prove being a slow learner and fall victim to Phil pulling the same trick as John.

Again, good fortune downwind and the odd gybe to stay with the pressure saw Scott get back in front. With so many other classes around, the racing became just dodging the other boats and trying to find some pressure, with little or no attention being paid to each other until we were in each other's faces. Special mention has to go to Colin for sticking with the racing, even though he spent most of the time low riding. It's important that the class take part in all conditions so that we are taken seriously. The morning session ended with Scott taking three wins, with Phil getting two seconds and third and John two thirds and a second. Colin managed to finish each race to take fourth.

Sunday afternoon saw a nice 15-20 knot sea breeze fill in. While glamorous Mothing conditions, there were far too many close calls at lower speeds in the morning, so the prospect of doing it all again at 20+ knots was a terrifying thought. Instead we packed up early and took advantage of the free sausage sizzle and beer. All in all, a successful weekend's racing. With the amount of kids out there drooling as we zipped past up and down the course, fingers crossed for some new Moth recruits soon.

Big thank you to RFBYC for being so accommodating to the class and including us in an excellent event. Hopefully next year we can get more boats!

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