2014 US Moth National Championship - Talent explosion hits
by Alan Block on 21 Mar 2014
A solid forecast for the next few days had the high-flying International Moth fleet in grins today despite most struggling to find enough wind to practice on Thursday for this week’s US Moth National Championship Presented By Line Honors.
2014 International Moth Line Honors US Nationals practice pay - US Moth National Championship 2014 © Meredith Block http://www.blocksail.com/
The entry list reveals one of the deepest fleets to ever battle for the US title; the field features multiple world champions, Olympic medalists, and talented up-and-comers from around America and the world.
Three of the past six Moth World Championships will be represented on the flat, clear waters in front of the Upper Keys Sailing Club; John Harris may be an Australian native and 18 Foot Skiff legend, but the 2008 Moth World Champion has his eyes on his first major prize in years. With a height and weight advantage on most of the fleet, Harris will need lots of wind to get in front – exactly what the early forecast calls for.
The other two Moth world titles in attendance come along with Detroit’s Bora Gulari, who recently added his second inscription to the historic Moth World Championship Trophy with a light-air romp in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii ahead of a fleet ripe with America’s Cup and Olympic talent. Gulari became the first American double Moth World Champ in more than half a century, and as a bonus, added the 2013 US Championship to his trophy case the week before on the same bay.
Also vying for the podium will be newly named US Sailing Team member Brad Funk, rapidly becoming America’s top gun in the 49er fleet as well as scoring an inspiring top-ten finish at the Hawaii Moth Worlds.
Regatta Organizer and multiple keelboat World Champion Anthony Kotoun had a difficult Worlds in 2013, but as one of a handful of Moth sailors who has shown his ability to outsail the lightning fast Gulari, the reigning North American Champ and 2012 US Champ is looking for some payback and is confident he’ll be in the mix.
Wildcards include some of the three-strong Swedish contingent; Magnus Gravare and Emma Aspington are fixtures on the Moth circuit, and new addition Freddy Loof adds some gravitas of his own to the fleet. The Olympic Star sailor provided Sweden its only Gold Medal of the London games, and after 24 years of sailing slow boats, Loof has jumped headlong into the Moth – a boat that sails three times faster than the Star upwind, and even more downwind. 'The first time I got in the boat it was like sailing on the moon; just the most awesome feeling ever!' said Loof, who now has just eight days in the boat. 'If I can finish half the races I’ll consider that a victory.'
While the veterans have had a busy winter, young guns like Ian Andrewes and Pat Wilson have spent weeks training for the US Championship near Miami in Biscayne Bay. 'We’ve put some time in practicing and tuning, but I didn’t just buy a Moth to race,' said Wilson. 'It’s also a kind of therapy for me, and last week, we took advantage of the full moon to fly around Miami at 25 knots by moonlight for hours – one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had.' Wilson said that a lifetime of racing J/24s and other heavy keelboats hasn’t been a handicap for him at all. 'What so few people understand is that the Moth is genuinely easy to get going, and literally everyone in the Class goes out of their way to help with tuning tips, spare parts, coaching – whatever you need to help get you up to speed from the start.'