Zhik Moth Worlds 2011 – Have the Australians stepped up a gear?

Charlie McKee in action with the Moth solid wing - Zhik Moth Worlds 2011- Lake Macquarie Australia
Zhik Moth Worlds, Belmont, Lake Macquare NSW.

While Australian dual 49er World Champion Nathan Outteridge dominated the Pre-Worlds, he had a much tougher day on the first day of the Worlds on Australia’s Lake Macquarie. He missed a shift or even two in the first race, won the second and had to fight his way back from 20+ for a seventh in race two to finish the day in second place.

But overall the Australians dominated with seven out of the top ten.

Dockside today Outteridge commented ‘Some of us, like Tom, Iain and I, sail probably 200 days of the year, these days across a wide range of boats and that experience rubs off on our training squads. We are fortunate that Scott Babbage and John Harris brought us along in the Moths and now we are doing well as a group. Joe Turner has branded us as the 'Moth Squad' – you can see the logo on our sails a long way away.

'Joe Turner (who is leading this regatta), Goobs (Iain Jensen) Tom and I were sailing against each other as 10 year olds so we all keep pushing each other along. (Tom Slingsby, the 2010 ISAF Sailor of the Year, triple Laser World Champion and Etchells World Champion was as Sail-World discovered in a recent interview, known at that stage as ‘that little fat kid’.)

Commentators are already suggesting that this tight group of Australian Moth sailors led by Outteridge, has lifted the Moth sailor levels of expertise significantly over the last year. The results from the Pre-Worlds and from the first day of the Worlds are a continuing trend.

After day one the best placed international sailor is Arnie Psarofaghis (SUI), currently sixth, followed by 2010 World Champion Simon Payne (GBR) currently 12th, while the 2009 World Champion Bora Gulari (USA) is back in 15th place.

Now to the racing.

Outteridge, the Zhik Pre-Worlds winner summed up his day. ‘The first race I had a few issues. I broke a bit of my outhaul on the first upwind leg. It wasn´t major but it was a bit difficult to sail. It was really shifty and gusty and it was a really close race the whole way through. My 49er crew Iain Jensen won that race, he is not letting me off easily. I ended up fifth.

‘The second race started at the boat end and got a really nice lift off the start. I was in a controlling position for about 20 seconds off the line. Tom (Slingsby) got ahead of me for a minute up the first beat by getting better pressure and he tacked before me but at the very top mark I got a lift coming in on port and I was able to get around a bit in a nice gap.

‘In the third race, I was on the wrong side of a shift again and had to come back from around 20th at the top mark. Pleased to get to seventh really.

‘In the first run I caught a bit of weed in my foils so I had to capsize to get that off because I could see everyone catching me. As soon as I got it off I started to extend again. I think most people are sailing with sea-grass weed all the time, strands about 300mm (a foot long) and it is just a matter of how much they have got and whether they choose to get it off.

‘There seems to be streams of it every now and then and there seems to be more in the left hand course than the right hand course at the moment. I guess the east wind is blowing it down off the beach. It´s just tricky.’

Charlie McKee tries the solid wing - Zhik Moth Australian Championships 2011

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