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Sutherland takes flight at Moth nationals

by Yachting New Zealand 26 Mar 18:50 PDT
Graeme Sutherland won six of the eight races at the Moth national - March 2020 © Adam Mustill

Graeme Sutherland made some big strides at last year's Moth world championships and that showed when he took out last weekend's national title.

Sutherland topped 21 other competitors at the Moth national championships held at the Sandspit Yacht Club last weekend, finishing 12 points ahead of Sam Meech in second with Mattias Coutts third. Only two points separated Meech in second and Alex Koukourakis in fourth to illustrate how tight some of the racing was.

Sutherland, though, showed his class, winning six of the eight races across the two days, and credited the work he put in last year on his way to a 13th-place finish at last year's Moth world championships in Perth as a defining factor.

"I just managed to get around the course without taking too many risks," he said. "I put quite a bit of time into training last winter ahead of the Moth worlds and my boat handling and boat preparation was still at a high level.

"There was some good competition, and some of the young guys coming through have also been putting in a lot of time into their boat handling, so I was pretty happy to come out on top."

The big talking point of the weekend, however, was the evolving Covid-19 outbreak which saw everyone involved keep a healthy distance both on and off the water. The first day of action played out as the Government announced the implementation of level 2 and it was probably one of the last regattas for some time anywhere in the world.

"We were pretty socially aware of what we needed to do," Sutherland said. "We looked at cancelling but also looked at the fact we are a single-handed class and did all our briefings and notices through the WhatsApp group. Everyone was quite stand-offish and kept their distance onshore.

"I think everyone was quite relieved to get out on the water and do their own thing. There wasn't too much hindrance to what we were doing. Everyone just got on with their job."

There were plenty of well-known sailors throughout the fleet at the national championships, including ocean racer Brad Marsh (5th), Stuart Goodes (7th), match racer Nick Egnot-Johnson (8th), Laser sailor George Gautrey (11th) and Knots Racing bowman Bradley McLaughlin (12th), illustrating that the Moth is a class many turn to for fun and competitive racing.

"The Moth class has definitely grown a lot lately," Sutherland said. "The boats have always been here but getting boats out on the water together has been a challenge. We had 22 boats in the weekend, so that was cool to see.

"You can really learn a lot in the Moth, not just about foiling but also things like boat setup, boat work, developments and modifications. It's also a really collaborative group and the top guys are more than happy to share information or help the young guys."

That will obviously take a back seat for the foreseeable future but it looks like the foundations of the Moth class are well developed.

Results and standings from the Moth national championships at the Sandspit Yacht Club:

1st: Graeme Sutherland (2) 1 1 (8) 1 1 1 1 - 6 points

2nd: Sam Meech (22) (13) 3 3 3 4 2 3 - 18 pts

3rd: Mattias Coutts 4 (6) (5) 2 5 3 3 2 - 19 pts

Full results can be found here.

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