Tuesday, 28 December 2010

I'm cold

This country.. A week ago I was stuck in a snow drift for an appreciably long time. Long enough to find that if you are forced to make water by packing an old coffee cup with snow and then melting it with the might of the Abarth heating system, it takes one and a half hours to melt and you only get about 1cm of water in the bottom. Dehydration was in issue for a while!

But I hear that at least Australia is finally heating up! The forecast is I think for the rain to go and the summer to arrive and right now I'm trying to pack. The trophy is engraved and to see my name on it for the 2nd time still makes me very proud. I'm looking forward to this next event.

I haven't really been following what's going on over there, a couple of snippets from mates perhaps, but its not really worth bothering when you are on the other side of the world. Actually I'm more interested in the Ashes right now :-)

I tried hard to find that extra kilo over Christmas, which was a lovely day despite a Christmas eve shopping list cock up. I thought "Fennel" said "Funnel", but no matter. It will be useful on the Folkboat.

I am spending New Year in Sydney and then catching a ride with Scott to Belmont on the 1st so see you all then.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Nice Worlds review!

Good worlds review by David Fuller of Yacht Sponsorship.com here

And here's the trophy you all want in the hands of the most beautiful world champion ever. Marie-Claude Fauroux of France, Overall World Champion in 1968. Those were the days..

Friday, 26 November 2010

Waiting for winter

Last weekend before the boat goes to Sydney and its cold here, cold as in stick your tongue to a metal post cold, (don't ask how I found out) as in 1 degrees in the day cold. In these temperatures you have to look at your hand to see if you are holding the mainsheet and at 16 knots upwind thats a wind chill of minus 6.

Still the boys were out yesterday which proves if nothing else that mad dogs and English men don't just go out in the mid day sun. Not me I'm afraid. When you cant even smile because your face is so cold, well imagine not smiling when you are up there on the foils...

But it gave me time to think as I watched. I thought about the new solid Wing and its place in the class. Possibly its not my place to comment either, but from what I've seen for some reason they remind me of a Zepplin, those beautiful airships that graced the skys in the 1920's. They, just like the Wing were graceful and silent up there in the clouds but ungainly, awkward and at the mercy of the weather when on land. This lead me to think that the Wings are somehow mournful, in the same way Eeyore is mournful in Winnie the Pooh. With this thought I warmed to them immensely, for if nothing else they have character, which I like.

Last Saturday was good and I nailed my tacking which was one thing to tick off the list. I'd been meaning to get around to it for a while, as previously I tacked like a lame duck. Not a metaphorical duck either but one that had stepped on a land mine or something. Anyway I'm pleased about that and gym work is going well too. I believe in the gym and good preparation. These events are won well before hand, in the gym or out in the boat or what ever you do, but in any event a long way before we dance under those lights.


Friday, 19 November 2010

Breaking and entering

I'm just filling in the entry form for the worlds, a job I traditionally hate, largely because you have to part with money.

You can tell a lot from the entry form about the quality of the event actually. I completed one the other day which had the question "In case of emergency who should we call..? The answer of course being a "Doctor" but if they cant even figure that out what chance have they got of getting the windward mark in the right place?

But this one seems a good one although I don't know what "MNA number" means, but given I've got a new credit card its a great way to remember the pin.

The wing debate rages and if we are seemingly and sadly unable to change any rules as the NOR has been issued I see that those winging it are all buggered, which is a shame.

It's due to sail numbers and if we are now calling the first element of the wing the err "mast" then the sail numbers have to go on the sail or the "tiny little bit behind the mast" as it should now be known

Try getting AUS 3876 or whatever on that legally. (You might just squeeze GBR 1 on it though..;-)

Aside from that I cant wait to race. I feel great, am fit, have some pace and I've always said that its the duty of the Champion to defend. I am in debt to Abarth and KA Sail for their continued support.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Black Deaths Wing

All has been looted, betrayed, sold; black death's wing flashed ahead....

I saw these poetic words in a book as I came back from the Abarth party in London on Thursday night.

There is a lot of worry about the wing. The ability to wait until we have enough information in order to make a decision seems to be the least popular option as it seems people would rather have "bad certainty" rather than "uncertainty" in order to get it sorted out now.

Anyway at the worlds I thinks its a big risk to use one, but one which may pay off...

I do believe though that in order to have an opinion people need to:-

1. Attend regatta's so they can see the class as it is today. Sorry guys but you cant get an accurate digital impression from your study as you wait patiently for another "innovation" to set. Its very different to how it was even two years ago.

2. People need to understand the class constitution. Rules have been discussed this week but its the constitution that's more important than we all think.

So what is the Moth constitution? Well its a set of laws that people before us have made that define our principles as a class. The class rules sit under them and in effect are limited by them,

The first constitution is:- To encourage the development of the International Moth Class, and the establishment of National Associations in all Countries.

The second one is:- promote and encourage racing of International Moths.

Going forward only the above should be used as the key go/no go check points. Right now you can argue either way although I'm sure it will come to a vote.

And I like votes! And in particular the instruction....."Please put your ex in a box!"

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The News at Ten

Finally back on the water last weekend after recovering from injury. Earlier last week my shoulder was injected with steroids. The pain has now gone thankfully, but not before I all but fainted in Tesco's an hour after the injection as my body went "what's that stuff?" Where to faint was another issue, its not a faint friendly store actually but the clothing aisle at least had carpets.

On any Sunday! Club racing at HISC. All photo's courtesy of Chris Bashall

Anyway great to do a couple of club races last weekend and it was lovely to see so many Moths out. Its a good time of year to sail at HISC actually. The harbour is empty of yachts and feels big again and its still warm enough to have fun. Anyway although rusty it was nice to come away with a couple of bullets, one by the skin of my teeth after great racing with Mike Lennon.

I was using the new KA MSL10 C for the first time. I've always been a fan of the ten and I've used the 10B exclusively this year. This new iteration by Andrew I think takes it to the next level. It has a slightly higher clew which makes manoeuvres easier , zips on the luff for easier cam location and some luff curve and seam improvements. As a result it looks great and goes really well! I noticed that I could get the top to open a bit easier as the breeze built with the second batten down looking sweeter than on the earlier sail.

I was using the Mach 2 medium mast and felt fast upwind on Saturday against the others. Sunday I found I could also sail consistently fast and low downwind.

Monday, 25 October 2010

UK interview

I read this interview this morning on the UK International Moth site and it made me feel special.

I'll keep all this stuff to show the grandchildren. Thank you.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Accidentally on purpose

photo by kind permission of Thierry Martinez

In the late 1800s, people suffering from asthma might have been told by a pharmacist to smoke a cigarette. Daft now given what happened to the Marlborough Man and even though the recent smoking ban was designed to make the world a better place, you might argue differently if you were a shampoo manufacturer or a dry cleaner, where in these markets, business has declined as hair and clothes now need to be washed less. But there are some unlikely advances that really have had a significant and unforecasted effect on the world being a better place, even if at first they were viewed as a huge threat.. Nuclear Weapons come to mind here, built for mass destruction yet somehow managing to create an (albeit) uneasy peace.

But the most recent one in our world must be the unlikely liaison between the Wing and Rule 42.

I’ll explain. For the last few years the most popular debate just prior to any big championship event was how many times you are allowed to pump and/or wing bounce to promote foiling. Hardly any and none are the current answers but everyone did and the rule 42 discussion, which threatens to divide opinion, encourage protests and, in a bid to monitor it, lumber us with associated jury costs has now been made completely redundant.

Why? Because you can’t pump a wing. It’s true, and one of the greatest exponents of relaxing rule 42 informs me that it makes absolutely fuck all difference.

Interesting isn’t it to think like that? So if it proves to be the case that pumping et al are not needed. What does that mean for the class? Younger sailors? Older sailors? More women sailors? Who knows, but consider this when you form your view of the Wing, as again we differentiate ourselves from normal sailing dinghies by getting rid of a potential problem through elegant solutions and not silly little red flags. Even if it is by accident..

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


I've always liked the word, mainly because for the first 30 years of my life I never understood what it meant. Nomenclature is a term that applies to either a list of names and/or terms or procedures related to naming. Clearly now we need to complement the Exec with this position to provide support for the newly appointed Measurement Secretary. Nomenclature Secretary's first task would be to propose a naming procedure for new developments, so that we don't have the current and obvious issue of having to change the name of the wing away from err wing, so that we don't confuse them with the already currently named.. err wings.
I would recommend we do, but on no account must we let an American do it. Americans do invent new words, almost every day actually, but this is largely by adding the prefix "de" and the suffix "fy". So we can get (recently heard) wonderful words like "Decomplexify" which presumably is another word for "Simple". Which it isn't.
The Australians should be precluded as well because they would just stick an "o" on the end of it and we'd just move from wing/wing to wingo/wingo which wouldn't be much help. The Germans, who currently translate the quite attractive word "bra" to "B├╝stenhalter" which I think means "bosom holder" would come up with something more literal still like "solid sail", which would be shortened to "SS" and that really wouldn't work.
No this must be left to the British. And so I would propose that the procedure is that any new invention brought to the class is named after the first sailor to use it. Adam however already has the "Maystick" and I'm now mindful of the recently introduced 2010 Equalities Act which means he can't have it in isolation as he's already go one invention, and two would be un err.. equal. Nobody is allowed to loose in Britain these days and anyway if he had two we'd be back to where we started with May/May Stick.
So its not easy as you can see, but a combination may work? How about the Bora May Invention? We could consult the French to shorten it and surely (but not guarranteed) it would turn into "BMI" which also stands poignantly for "Body Mass index" which is a subtle hint that if you are a fat bastard it could be for you, but BMI is also a low cost airline which makes flying accessible to the masses and that may just be a subtle reminder to everyone to think, as they look up, about what's really important to the moth class..

Si (sitting in a Starbucks waiting for someone, so err sorry)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Collide Ride

It was when I couldn't get back in the boat that I noticed something was wrong. A lap earlier and in the first race yesterday Richard Lovering and I bashed off each other at 20 knots downwind vying for the lead. He capsized and I continued, aware that I'd taken a big knock, but after messing up another tack up at the windward mark I couldn't get back in the boat. Then when I headed for the shore I couldn't get out and rammed the foils up the beach. Nice.

First time I've ever ever retired because of something like that and when everyone else was enjoying quick fire champagne racing Graham Simmonds was kindly helping me to put the cover on the boat, as I couldn't do it on my own. I limped off and spend an afternoon lying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. Still nothing that Ibuprofen and BUPA wont be able to fix.

So sorry I wasn't part of yesterday and congratulation to Mike Lennon who really looks the part these days. Maybe that was the last year of the Tide Ride at HISC but once again the Moths put on a really good show!

Anyway injuries happen, but the most annoying thing is I have this beautiful little Abarth 500 sitting on my driveway and I can only drive one handed!

On an entirely different note, we lost a rudder vertical at the Europeans in Silvaplana.. It was a spare, but it went missing. Anyone seen it around?


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Where are you with the wing?

There has been quite a bit of talk in the Moth class about wing rigs of late. In particular how they should fit into the class, or not.

Andrew McDougall has posted his thoughts in the forum on the new Mach2 website and you probably should read them.

Do you agree with Andrew or not? We'd like to hear your views so tell us what you think! It is easy to log in and the topic does need debate...

Just register in the below section of the home page.

Then click on "Mach 2 Forum" ....

Then read the post.. calm down...take a deep breath...

Monday, 27 September 2010

Excuse me while I kiss the sky

They say that in order to move to a higher level you need to force yourself out of your comfort zone. Of course in a Moth you need to be sensible too, but if you always stay inside a figurative and pre prescribed four walls I guess you wont ever really fail, or in fact improve, and that's because those four walls are really a jail.

Chichester harbour has offered some pretty shit racing this year for me to be honest. It's full of weed, yachts and a tide that goes about as quick as a solar wind, but its my home, I love it and yes it's very comfortable. Yet I'm also keen on improving, and the bay is the only place you get to sail around an international sized course. (That's excluding Silvaplana of course which you could quite easily replicate in the lagoon)

And those four familiar walls seemed temporarily more appealing as I pitchpoled off another wave in the middle of Hayling Bay on Sunday with 24 knots on the clock. By the time I'd done it four times I was even managing to fit a little prayer in between leaving the tramp and hitting the mast. I don't often bruise, but today I feel like I can't take a deep breath.

The ride out was fine. A bit bumpy but your only gonna go one way so might as well get on with it. The racing though was magical. It was just me, and the boat, and its a pretty connecting experience when its not the two of you against another Moth, but against the elements. It makes you feel really good.

It was full foam up and I was trying to hang onto the imaginary tails of Bora, Nathan and Jon Harris in the big waves. I faffed with the boat but in the end gave up and was safer down wind just by steering really accurately. At first I couldnt get back down to the start but the more downwinds I did the better I got. The last three laps were incident free.

In between races I caught my breath and also caught sight of some very black 25 knot plus gusts coming my way. Holding onto an always too short mainsheet I ran for the skirting boards as quick as I could and to the shelter of the harbour!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Little Rudder

I tried the small rudder last night at Hayling Island. This one is the very first one out of the mould and I immediately liked it! It felt very slippery and in the gorgeous little ten knot breeze we had in a sparkly Chichester harbour the boat felt great! Specifically with high ride height the leeward tip did not come out, as it tends to with the standard rudder and three foiling tacks in a row seemed to indicate that there is no lift penalty.

You can see the difference in size in the picture but you can't see that the section is proportionally thinner too.

The little rudder is available now as an aftermarket option.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Pedro Pan

Alan Hillman's Spanish October Mothfest boot camp is tempting me to warmer climbs. I'd like the chance to spend a few days more of a never ending childhood in a place where I can magically escape the reality of the British Autumn, temporarily refuse to grow up and fly all day with the other lost boys. I just have to work out if it clashes with my coaching commitments in Italy and other obligations

In the meantime sidelined with a broken boat I've been back in the gym and doing other things. I've put on a couple of kilo's, my shoulder has fixed its self and I'm beginning to feel strong again. I've been trying to expand my brain sans racing with lots of reading but honestly the only articles I can remember that were interesting from the books and the papers were the piece on "advanced air guitar" and "how to survive a flood"

Mike Lennon kicked my ass hard the other weekend and I was watching him on Saturday as Tris and I sat at anchor at East head trying to catch our supper. He's looking good and certainly if it's around 12 knots at the worlds he will be a force to contend with. He has put the time in and deserves the results now.

At HISC the Lasers have apparently gone. I think the club did brilliantly in handling the event and we now have a couple more new Mach 2 sailors joining! I'm waiting for my new super small Mach 2 Rudder hydrofoil to arrive which will replace the damaged one. It should be here this week, so let me know if anyone wants to see it. Initial feedback is that its faster with no obvious lift penalties.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Solitude of Ravens

Images courtesy of Loris Von Siebenthal

I like this time of year. The sparkly light in Chichester harbour is beautiful and a nice little wind sprang up which blew me to my boat yesterday afternoon.

There is a Raven which hangs around the dinghy park and he was sitting on the boat when I came back from the changing rooms. I think its a Raven, it could be a Crow I guess.. Anyway as it spread it's wings the thought struck me that if I could just capture it then and there, and dip it in epoxy, I would have a very cool main foil!

Sailing was great. I aimed for that thin line where the sea meets the sky and raced out into the bay with the tide. I'd changed the gantry in order to get the bow down more and was experimenting with that when bang! I hit a plank doing 15 knots upwind and broke the rudder twist mechanism. Still it was too nice to stop and I didnt need it anyway. I was just good to be out, and after 3 events in short succession I realised that whilst too much racing can really take it out of you, my little Moth can provide the cure too.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Syz and Co International Moth European Championships - our summary

Negative Ghost Rider the pattern is full..

Or is it? The small lake of Silvaplana in Switzerland coped with 85 Moths better than most people thought, although it didn’t promise to be a great regatta as the week before saw temperatures plummet. Some Mach 2 sailors were experiencing severe cold as they practiced in 20 knots, which linked to an 8 degree air temperature gave a sub zero wind chill. Yet slowly, ever so slowly the sun came out, but not before we all understood why the North Face of the Eiger has claimed so many lives. In August.

The air was thin as the competitors inadvertently joined the mile high club. Most had not raced at that altitude before and their exhaustion was apparent. Ten tacks a beat up the right side meant that, whilst all would survive, the fittest prospered.

And the fittest were there. The American Bora Gulari, wounded at the last worlds was back looking lean and relaxed. Nathan Outteridge the “wunder kid” from Australia arrived fresh from winning the 49er division at “Sail for Gold” . Defending European Champion from Switzerland Arnaud Psarofaghis, back on a KA rig, was looking fast and hot with best in class boat handling. Simon Payne from the UK, the current World Champion, having just won the UK nationals, was looking to complete a “hat trick” of trophies for 2010.

From Australia also came Andrew McDougall, second at the recent 2010 World Championships, countrymen Scott Babbage and Rob Gough all had their eyes on the prize.

Interestingly Gulari, Outteridge and Babbage had new stock Mach 2’s and sails delivered to the event. Fast out of the box was always our mantra and oh God did this prove the case.

Race days

They say “keep your head out of the boat”! Nowhere has that been more important. With closing speed of nearly 40 knots you have to spot ‘em a long way out. Just getting to the start was scary and there were crashes. GBR’s Tim Penfold hit a German and was fortunate to escape with a black eye and a cut cheek only. With new wings he would race the next day.

It was safest at the front and music man Nathan Outteridge stormed into an early lead showing clear technical sailing superiority, but if you could hear the dance music coming from his boat you were still doing ok.

And dances there were plenty. Andrew McDougall, a late arrival wisely decided to sit a few out as the thin air caught out those not yet acclimatised. Only later in the week would he show his old form

Bora Gulari started averagely, but he soon lit the after burners on his American jet, and in the windy conditions, seemed one of the few who can better Outteridge at his own game.

It came down to the last day and a clearly ill Gulari won his third race in a row to make it a final race showdown. We didn’t drink from the lake again as Bora threw up in it at the finish and sadly, drained and exhausted, he limped in. The event belonged to Outteridge!

There were battles all the way down the fleet. Payne and Babbage tied on points in the end, with Babbage getting it on count back, but when you are European you gotta keep your eye on the other Europeans and it was Payne who was the European Champion, despite a tough week and only 4th overall.

Rob Gough came in 6th overall, sick in the week he showed courage to keep going when most would have gladly gone to bed. Matthais Renker(SUI), Chris Graham (UAE), Chris Rast (SUI) and Jason Belben (GBR) made up the top ten.

We’re the Gear!

Mach 2’s took the top 9 places and we had 17 boats in the top 20. Importantly also KA sail took the first 11 places showing that “you gotta be in it to win it”
The choice seemingly now is not which sail, but which KA sail is right for you?

A soldier can give you a gun, yet if you can’t fire it you may die and somewhat less dramatically but along the same lines, how you set up your Mach 2 is critical if you want to win races.

Most sailors were front/front hole on the main foil with the wand adjuster wound all the way to the top to slow down the main foil flap in the flat water of the Alps.
Gantrys were wound a couple of turns out so get the bow right down for upwind work and ride height adjusters were made to work hard as boat speeds nudged towards 30 knots downwind.

Rig wise the KA MSL 13/ new medium mast from Mach 2 showed great height. A precious commodity in the shifty lake conditions.

The KAMSL10 riders like Payne and Psarophagis used the stiff Mach 2 mast.

Outteridge, (who used both) summarised “the MSL13 has more height but possibly the 10 is lower but faster on open water”. I guess we will see in Belmont.

There was agreement however on the strategy of slackening the sail battens to get the sail to work better in the breeze.


Sailings version of the Tango! A stylized knife fight that mesmerised the viewing public and made the sailors proud to be part. We go on to Belmont! Who knows what will happen, but one thing’s for sure, gear wise there’s only one choice, and you know what I’m going to say…
Full results here

Friday, 27 August 2010

August Rain

All images courtesy of Loris Von Siebenthal

Joseph Conrad said something like that despite all the poems, prose and love heaped upon it the sea has never been friendy to man. Something like that anyway. That's my feeling now, I seem to have bought the depths of the lake and the height of the peaks back from Switzerland with me. I didn't feel great at that event, largely my mind was elsewhere, often I had to drag it back to the Alps as the five minute gun went.

So what a week, and the weather here isn't helping, it's raining so hard that I may sell the Mach 2 and start building an ark but my boat is sitting in the garage and I've some work planned. It's probably the most stock boat out there and inspired by Bora's chat it's going to get pimped. Foil finish first, I've never touched them, they are straight from the mould and they've done OK but they are going to get painted, largely because I think white will go better with the boat.

KA at the front.. Again
One thing I plan to try is the new MSL13.2. KA sails took the top ten results, no accident. Sheer bloody hard work on Andrew's part who's restlessness is a great accomplice when it comes to making sails faster.

But all that aside, right now I wish I was out in my boat, not racing just sailing..

Monday, 23 August 2010

I love it when we lift off.

We are screaming down the run at about 24 knots and I can hear Nathan behind me. Or rather his music pumping out of his boat. He played it every race. On the way upwind he passed me and I passed the committee boat. The race officer gave me a high five and I didn't have to do a 360 as a result. What a class we have.

I was a bit out gunned by Nathan and Bora. Inland sailing it seems isn't a strength of mine and I failed to consolidate when I got into the lead at times. I started OK but faltered a bit mid week. I didn't feel that great and when you are a bit flat things become hard work and don't always go your way. Anyway I tied with Scott on points, but he got it on count back. I would like to congratulate those three wonderful guys and to thank them for coming. It is an honour as always to sail against them.

The finishing line was just behind that bush..

I had a great battle with Arnaud for the European Championship. For me it's a special trophy. It's the first one I ever won. In anything actually. When I was down once it was more than just a trophy. It was something to look at. It reminded me that in one small tiny area of life, I was at least good at something. Now it's back.

Bora and I drove to the airport together. We talked about what it's like to go away and how its easy to get carried away with being too single minded about winning. Sometimes you just have to count your blessings and acknowledge that you are unbelievably blessed to be doing what you do. Switzerland did that for me.

I would like to thank KA Sail, Zhik and Abarth, and those close to me for their unwavering support and belief in me during 2010. By what ever means I now have all three trophies. I will always be in your debt.


Monday, 16 August 2010

Lash for Cash

Christ did it rain, and on a windless mirror like lake we pumped our way around a course that had a confused commentator confusing the sailors. Arnaud won, Mathias Renker was 2nd and Martin Zah an excellent 3rd. Switzerland taking all three top places proving that it really is like this most of the time! I was 4th and have rarely been so wet but a hot shower and a few beers restored the moral. Credit to all the sailors who took their boats to the lake of St Moritz in order to support the event knowing it was going to be a wash out.
Earlier in the day we had a good breeze on the race course and I hit 25 knots in the flat water near the leeward mark. It was good to be finally sailing with the boys, Amac was in JP's boat and we had a good work out. I was fast up wind and gradually got to be fast down wind too although the quality of the 6 tacks required to get to the windward mark will be critical... Anyway today is the practice race. Its going to be tight with 85 boats and more people than normal are talking about this. I hope it doesnt take a major crash for us to make the decision to sail in two flights. I guess we will see.
Today the weather is brighter which should mean more wind. It snowed on the mountains last night and the scenery is beautiful. My Zhik Super Warm wetsuit is doing the business! What a great piece of kit. So glad I brought it!

Saturday, 14 August 2010


We had wind for about 45 minutes today. I managed to get on the water and do some meaningful sailing until it rained again and the wind switched off.

Its going to be raining for the next few days apparently and I feel for those who are camping in these dire conditions. Trench foot is a real possibility and the dash for cash tomorrow will I'm afraid be won by a low rider. Still musn't grumble, the boat feel good and the fresh water has made the ratchet work.

This lake is bloody small and 85 boats sailing a clearly favoured right hand side means it will be intense to say the least. Given this I think you could view this event as really a larger than normal slalom race. More a "super G" I guess.

If I do well in the slalom I will buy a coat. and maybe some of those waders you see fishermen wear.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Top Gear

OK I'm all set and I'm looking forward to getting underway. My new Abarth Punto Evo is a weapon and I cant wait for some nice driving roads on the upper Engadine in the Swiss Alps where ultimatley I will find Lake Silvaplana.

It's cold and wet here but the GPS says 840 miles to go. Soon I'll be going racing with 84 other boats. It will be tight.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Extreme 11's!!

We had 5 Mach 2's racing with the Extreme 40's last weekend. With a close in zig zag course we provided great entertainment. The crowds were amazing and the commentary fun. There wasn't any room to make big mistakes and we had some great races and got some good practice in for Silvaplana. Launching was a faff but Offshore Challenges were really good and we wanted for nothing really. Once the racing was done it was a mission to get back to base in the turbulent waters off the squadron. We all went for a swim but made it back OK.

My little Abath Mach 2 looked tiny against the BMW Oracle AC boats but attracted more attention!

Thanks to Paul and Andrine for putting us all up! Paul's special "Flame grilled" bacon sandwiches were wonderful on the Sunday morning and also thanks to Mike, Ricky, Jason and Paul for being such good sports and coming over to sail. We did have a lot of fun!

The Wing

I've never believed that winning races is particularly related to how much time you spend on the water, if that rule worked then all taxi drivers would be the best drivers.. I believe that you can achieve a great deal without wearing out the boat and that's by thinking intelligently and focusing on what makes the most difference. It is for this reason that I think Adam's new wing rig is amazing. It just looks so cool and is exactly what the Moth class is all about! I hope he goes twice as fast as us all in Silvaplana and wins by miles! And I want a go!

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Scorpion Tales

Some of you will notice that my boat will look a little different this weekend.
I will now be working closely with Abarth, the Italian performance car manufacturer. The company's philosophy is to produce "small but wicked" products, and as you can imagine this is in line with the performance and ethos of the Moth.
The Abarth Team are a great bunch of guys. We were their guests at Silverstone last Saturday where we got to enjoy great hospitality and watch the Silverstone round of the Trophy Abarth 500 series from the pit wall. They are committed to racing and very proud of their stunning new range of Abarth road cars. You couldnt get me out of the Abarth Punto Evo! More on this soon.

Mach 2 Moths racing with the Extreme 40's at Cowes this weekend!

Come and see us if you can!

5 Mach 2 Moths will be racing along side the Extreme 40's at Cowes Week this weekend. We will be racing slalom style courses between 1200 and 1500 each day off Egypt point near where the "Extreme" bar is located. It will be fun, and great for us and the Moth class, with full commentary and excellent spectator facilities.

The Mach 2 pilots are Mike Lennon, Ricky Tagg, Jason Russell, Paul Hayden and me.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Mach 2 drain holes

The Mach 2 has small drain holes in each bulkhead. These little holes allow water to flow through the boat so it can be emptied via the bung holes in each tank. We wanted to point out where they were in order to make it easier for Mach 2 sailors to empty any water that may get into the boat.

Just click on the image to enlarge and all drain points are circled in red.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


It's hard to keep life in perspective sometimes, particularly when racing Moths is your hobby. It can be all encompassing, and it has been for decades. I can recall a time when winning moth sailors would have laboured over a project in an unheated shed to emerge after six months, newly single and with rickets, but with a fast creation that scooped up the prizes largely by making all other boats redundant.

Today you have to race sailors who are bred to win world championships until the end of time, so given the need to make every second count it was a surprise when I experienced a wonderful evening in my Mach 2 on Tuesday night. I was the only Moth out, like I had been years before, and the harbour was empty. I was pleased that I wasn't too far gone to be reminded of the soulful beauty of foiling and occasionally low riding across the harbour. The only thing that I've still yet to get used to is the "phat" of a failed take off; it still reminds me of a dead pheasant hitting the ground, but other than the round the island race it was the best sail I've had this year.

It was just fabulous actually, I could have stayed out all night and very nearly did. Largely owing to an ebb tide which made France the next stop but it was great to briefly get away from the constant communication that evades our lives, from the very moving Facebook status updates "so and so has to go to work today (boo) but she may take a sicky (te he) but they really need her (lol) to the constant news barrage that modern tools and lack of will power mean I keep constantly abreast of, and of course from blogs like this. I swear one day it will be possible to die from binary exposure.

Mothing takes on many forms, and its "pick me up" ability is never lost on me, but it does come at a price, and that's the price of the boat, but you need to keep that in perspective too, getting married cost more than a Mach 2 and getting divorced costs more than two and you'd need a fleet to pay for the cost of dying.

Monday, 12 July 2010

UK Nationals - Overall

That was a really good series! I was pleased with my pace and I feel back in the groove a bit although I have some work to do on some less than perfect aspects of my game. We had some good sailing and it was great to meet new moth sailors who have started on the learning curve and are every bit as engaged as we were when Rohan Veal turned up with "White Knuckle Express". But you never stop learning and one cool thing I learned from watching Arnaud was that on the Mach 2 you can kneel on the tramps and reach forward to change the wand adjuster bolt between races (if you are careful and hold on tight with the other hand) without getting wet. I also learned (on the way in from the last race I sailed) that if you try the same while foiling it cannot be done and you do get wet as you simply run yourself over. Anyway I would like to publically apologise to the Harbour Master. He told me not to do more than 5 knots and in 16 knots of breeze and with the harbour directly to leeward I just couldnt even when he told me 5 times. Accordingly I may have called him a "Knob Head", oddly a term which I have hardly ever used.
Thanks to Arnaud and Mikis for coming over and for the great racing I had with them but also Mike, Jason, Mike C, Ricky, Richard etc. Its certainly getting close at the top these days.
Full results here

Friday, 9 July 2010

Nationals Day 2

What a great day on the water. We had three races, two were light and around 10 -12 knots I think. The third was up there at around 17 -18 knots.
We were held by the race officer until the breeze settled down and then were called back after a general recall before race one got under way. From then on the one minute rule was used on every start.
Arnaud broke a shroud just before the start of race 1 and that was him out for that race, At the end of the first lap Mikis Psarofaghis led after a blinding hard right beat with me second and Mike Lennon on my heals, then Ricky Tagg and Richard Lovering. DJ Edwards was going well also. We swapped places a bit, it was as shifty as hell, the kind of shifty that you know you should pull more kicker on but didnt in case while doing so you missed a shift.
I won, Mike was second and I think Ricky was third.
Race two and Arnaud and I had a bit of a battle,him gybing on the gusts and catching me downwind. I had a better beat but boats were coming in from all angles and Paul Hayden and Jason Belben were there or there abouts..
I managed to win and Mike was second, Ricky was third and Arnaud after a frustrating last beat was fourth I think, or Maybe Richard Lovering was.
The final race and the breeze was up. Arnaud got out the line well and was off, I was second and Mike third.
Coming back in was the usual faff but the English Riviera lived up to its name and we sat drinking cofee and watching the world go by.
It was a great day on the water, the race team did a really good job and the four lap races were certainly taxing. From my side I need to tack better and start better.
It was a day for Mach 2's, taking all the top places in each race.
The UK fleet is really on fire, not since '94 have we had this many boats and never have we had this many good sailors coming in from other classes and competing at this event. The racing is tight throught the fleet.
Great times.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

UK Nationals day 1

I've come to the conclusion National Championships should be approached differently to Europeans and Worlds. Largely they are run by a friendly club, new to Moths who give us a really good and enthusiastic welcome. Royal Torquay is such a club and the members are just great. For a number of years now I've decided to find all the little idiosyncrasies you get with this kind of event "charming". So today we had a charming kind of day, where we charmingly launched into a tiny little working harbour and we sat around on the water having charming chat while waiting for the rest of the fleet to join us. Of course it would have helped if they had bothered to put their wetsuits on the right side of the start time, but I've decided to find that charming too.
When we did race it was in a shifty and gusty breeze that quickly spread the 42 boat fleet out. The first race was the less shifty race and I won with Arnaud second, Mike Lennon third and Jason Belben fourth.
The next race could be described as charming but I'd stretch to shite. The wind turned on/off and I sat in a great big hole for a long while. Not for the fist time in my life of course but fairly new in sailing. Anyway Jason Belben won and Arnaud was second and I was third. Should have been shortened or thrown out, but it wasn't, which was charming.

Monday, 5 July 2010

National Trust

Its the UK nationals this week and I'm not really ready. I've wanted to be ready and nothing should have really stopped me, but other little things just keep coming up. I've tried to supplement dodgy boat handling by acquiring the ability to read peoples minds but when everyone was at Weymouth and I was at Hayling it was clear that wasn't going to work either. Anyway I've decided to be positive and conclude that it takes immense skill to waste so much preparation time.

I am not a jealous man. I do not sit around all day coveting your friggin private jet or your hair, but I was jealous yesterday. Specifically jealous of Richard Loverings tacks. They were so much better than mine, which weren't really tacks but a pathetic luff head to wind followed by a capsize. I only won the club race because the boat hauled me to the front, and we hit 24.7 down wind in a bumpy Chichester harbour.

Will it do at the Nationals? No I doubt it, and I will have to find other ways of getting to the front. Work will mean I cant get there until Wednesday which wont leave much time, but a quick call to UK Border Patrol seems to have kept the Swiss out for another day and I may build on Phil Stevensons law and claim that you cant be UK national champion unless you have survived the blitz and find it impossible to speak French...

Monday, 28 June 2010

Walking on Water

From the excellent "Voiles et Voiliers" website taken by the great Thierry Martinez. It reminds me of a wonderful event with good friends which seems so long ago now.

A far cry from the stuffed under the clubhouse windward mark in the middle of a nautical M25 where I was neary run over twice before getting so much weed on my wand that I thought it may break. RTD with SOHF.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

When I get older..I will get stronger

Hmmm... Its taking all my strength to not bolt for the beach and rig my boat, but work I must and work I will. The weather is fab and I so enjoyed a simple club race last night that I just want to go out again. It was a nice little race where even for me it was impossible to get the course wrong and made me think that I will enjoy myself in the build up to the Europeans.

The only things that surprises me these days is how bad I get between events. I seem to be able to keep the same high's yet reach lower lows which is kinda different to how I thought it would be...

Yet as I shot from the beach yesterday I could hear the boat going "here we go again" as I went through my pre flight check. (tiller in the back hand etc). But once sorted Hayling was beautiful and as speedboats took photographs I remembered again how good for the soul these little boats are.

I had rigged a new KA MSL10 and the purpose of the race was to start to get know it. It always makes me smile when people chop and change sailmakers with such regularity. Moths dont push water, an extra 1cm on the cunningham can make you go a knot faster upwind. Much better to just slowly get to understand the kit you've got. My boat, bar a ride height adjuster and a new kicker rope, is pretty much stock. Its the fastest way to be I think.

We have the nationals in a couple of weeks and Im hoping to race. Again depends on work, but first a Moth slalom race at Hayling Island late Saturday when the kids from the Optimist open will be back on the beach. Should be a nice little race...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Mach 2's at West Marine

West Marine San Diego

We are delighted that West Marine are displaying a Mach 2 in both their new San Diego and Newport stores. If you live near and want to see the boat in the flesh pop in and have a look. West Marine are not planning to distribute the boat but its great to partner with them to provide a feature for their new flag ship stores.

PS like the clear tramps?

Monday, 7 June 2010

On your Machs!

Six Mach 2's put some hours in on Saturday out in Hayling bay where the water and sky were matching blue and the wind danced around 8 to 10 knots. I had decided that I would try to be "professional" with the limited time I had to train before the Europeans. That meant knowing which mast I was using, getting a good nights sleep, eating well and making every yard count.

So I was feeling good as I sailed out into the bay with Richard Lovering, Ricky Tagg, Mike Lennon, Jason Russell and Graham Simmonds. Anyway back to trying to be professional, and noticing that the wind was building I'd changed from my stiff mast to my soft mast as the wind hit 12 knots before I launched.

So I was feeling a bit vulnerable as the breeze softened.. but I was pleased with my speed. Acceleration upwind was a bit down but height was good although much had to do with just getting into the groove. You could add another knot by just sailing well as Haylings short chop threw us around a bit.

Sunday was race day and we started with the fast handicap fleet on an impossibly short line in just enough wind to come out of a tack and foil again after a few yards.

I lead the fleet out followed by Mike and I felt I had good height and pace, again using the soft mast, but as the sea breeze filled in we spent the rest of the time reaching between marks. Still fun lapping 14's with only half the race gone though.

Later I lent my boat to Ollie Spensley-Corfield who posted a first time out run of 20 knots! As the breeze built Mike and Richard hooked up the gusts and put in some impressive speeds in the impossible short channel where the Speed Puck and the shore played Russian roulette. Mike hit 26.7 I think.

Just great fun.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Nice one Harry!

Proving that where there is a will there is a way Harry Bowerman from Hayling Island Sailing Club lifts of in his his converted Axeman for the first time.

Harry who I think is just 16 took my old broken Fastacraft main foil, got it fixed, adapted it to the boat, added a rudder and now looks every bit the champion of the future!

Definately the right stuff!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Time Lord

The Mothfest at Alan Hilman's Pro Vela facility on the Mar Menor proved to be a good little event. I enjoyed the coaching and found helping sailors to improve as they battled to fly in the anarchy of earths lowest orbit very satisfying. Unencumbered by the unsavoury business of winning the dinghy park had a more relaxed air about it as people found their own pace.
I was there only until Wednesday night and then we went to a nice hotel for the remainder of the week where to my surprise I found it very easy to spend all day by the pool. I resisted the temptation to go back to see the guys, although I did allow my mind to wonder away from the serious business of sunbathing and speculate at will. At one moment it was readdressing the issue of the effect of rig tension (inconclusive) and yet on the other it was trying to determine if breakfast was included in the room rate (it was).
We tried golf which was fun and we read lots. Inspired by Alain de Botton's book "The Art of Travel" I though of the different Moth sailors you get, and concluded that (given mine was due) there should be lower insurance premiums for the wild eyed survival types who spend their whole time ignoring the moment and thinking "what the f**ks going to happen next" versus the ones who are so blissfully happy in the "here and now" and at one with their poetic souls that their equipment unexpectedly, yet regularly meets its demise by twatting solid objects at 20 knots. I may suggest this behavioral segmentation to Bishop Skinner and see where it gets me.
Andrew McDougall was another year older at the weekend, and presumably another year faster. A real Time Lord. Happy Birthday mate.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Spanish Eyes

The first of a new kind of event starts with paella and a beer on Sunday on the beach by the Mar Menor in Spain. Alan Hillman's new style Mothfest is already popular with 20 odd entrants. With long distance races, slaloms, pursuit races and three days of coaching by me and Alan, the positioning of the event has found popularity with Moth sailors who want to enjoy a some free ride time with their boats in a great environment. Sailings version of a golfing holiday if you like.

We hope to raise everyones skill levels which are a great mix of personal ambitons in a unique environment where the goal of the event is not to find the champion but to individually improve and collectively have fun.

Each sailor has completed a score card giving us an idea of their strengths and weaknesses and their aim high ambition for 2010 . We'll try hard to help them fulfill that.

But they say practice as if you are the worst and perform as if your the best and I will do the former this afternoon. I find it hard to find time these days but the one thing thats drives me is that when I'm not practicing I'm damn sure somewhere someone is practicing and when I meet him, he might win.

My own 2010 ambitions involve the UK National Championships in July and the European Championships in August, and also to learn to anchor without looking like an idiot but that in fairness involves a different boat.

Sometimes it can be hard to train alone and at HISC we all seem to be good at it despite the 17 Moths we have at the club. I'm very happy to be getting a new Velocitek Speed Puck to help me out, I've tried many GPS's over the years but the Speed Puck I used at the Speed Trials at the Gorge was the best by far.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

When the north wind blows..

Hayling. It's a name that conjures up cold weather when you say it. Spelt almost the same as frozen rain, it has been like that for most of the year. This weekend was no different and the only good thing is that you dont have to equalise the pressure in the tanks when you launch because the temperature of the air and the sea are both the same. Eleven degrees. The heated floors in the changing rooms were fantastic however turning the place into a sauna.

I sailed both days, trying the MSL13 and being beaten resoundly by Mike Lennon on Saturday and today going back to my trusty MSL10, three piece mast, fixing my wand and winning well.

This evening, and pleased with todays speed I sat on the sofa in a zen like trance reflecting on the day which Andrea mistook for dozing.

Last week Ricky Tagg and I went out determined to err determine whether sailing with the main foil on the front hole or the middle hole was fastest. We found the front hole was quicker downwind and the middle (IMHO) was quicker up. Bugger all in it though but I will stay as I am as I dont really like feel of the boat as the COE moves aft..

Its the Mothfest next weekend at Pro-vela in Spain and I can't wait to get down there and coach the 20 odd Moths that are entered. An eclectic mix of standards from worlds top ten sailors to new for 2010 beginniners but with two things in common though. A desire to improve, and a desire to sail in a warm place!

Sorry I didnt go to the Inlands. I've done enough not to really need an excuse which is just as well as I haven't got one anyway.


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Mast rake

Here you go. This is my mast rake and is relevant to the Mach 2 only. It's measured with sail up, rig tension on, but sail (is it clew?) not connected to back of boom and no cunningham. In other words mast straight.

Tape reading...

Tape anchor point

No wind..

Monday, 26 April 2010

Its all in the rig!

(photograph courtesy of Thierry Martinez)

I thought I'd write down some notes on how I handle my rig. It's kind of hard to shout to people on the water as we fly past each other so I hope this helps. Andrew has added a piece on the bottom for MSL13 users too.

With 19 of the top 20 Moths at the recent World Championships being Mach 2’s, the latest Moth to be designed by Andrew McDougall and built by McConaghy, one might assume that all the top Moth sailors now go the same speed.

However nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact there were big differences in speed, and these differences can be attributed to one thing only:

I won the event and I thought I’d take time to explain my rig, because although other people were fast, I think I was the fastest for most of the time and right now, with all of our other equipment being so similar, optimising your rig is critical as it is your only differentiator.

Someone once said that “boat speed makes you a tactical genius” and no one believes that more than me. A fast Moth can make up for an average start, mediocre race craft or in my case indifferent fitness after a knee operation.

So we all agree boats speed is import, and given the above it’s kind of surprising that people still make rig purchase decisions based on emotion rather than fact. I have observed this and I sympathise. I have found one of the hardest things to do is to make balanced impartial calls when you choose kit, but this you must. Friendships, colours, new things and advertising sway us all but spending lots of money to go slower is to me a sign that Darwins Theory of Evolution is clearly not right.

You have to look at what’s fast, and to do that you have to look at historical results for the conditions you anticipate at your target event.

In Moths a lot of people use KA sails, and I do so for a several reasons. Let me share these with you so you can understand my thinking.

Firstly when we talk about the rig we are referring to the sail and the mast. In the Moth world few suppliers have a collaborative relationship here but I do know that the Mach 2 series of masts are the same ones you can buy from KA and it’s these masts that fit the KA sails. To me that makes sense as they both come from the same designer.

But in Moths a minor change in wind conditions can change boat speed dramatically. That’s because it doesn’t take much before 25 knots of wind (gradient plus apparent) is coming over the deck, where previously, in a few of knots of less wind, we were low riding. This means that to win a championship you need a sail that changes gears easily. Very easily. You cannot be out for a day’s racing knowing that you have a weak spot if the conditions change. There are plenty of sails I know to be fast in one mode but they then slow up as the conditions change.

Of course you can’t have everything, and clearly something’s must change to maintain a fast pace as the breeze builds or fades. I do not change sails, but I do change masts as I believe that this minimises the degree of risk because the difference of change is less than the difference that occurs when you change sails.

At the worlds I used the KA MSL10 sail. In less than 12 knots I used the KA/Mach2 stiff mast, and over 12 knots the KA/Mach2 soft mast. One day I got confused and used the soft mast in light winds and still went OK. You see what I’m getting at here? Winning Moth Championships is about staying fast and managing risk. The sail fits both masts really well.

So if you agree that the rig needs to work through a number of conditions let’s talk about those gear changes when using a KA MSL10 or KA MSL13 Sail

1st Gear. We have “traditional” conditions where the wind is light, the windage is low and the sail must produce maximum power to get you on the foils. The outhaul is off with about an 8 inch gap between the sail and the boom. The cunningham is on just enough to take the creases out and the kicker is on to keep the leech straight. At the first scent of foiling I let the kicker off in order to generate the twist needed to get on the foils early, In first gear your primary control is the kicker.

2nd Gear. The boat is now foiling in marginal conditions. Boat speed has risen from a low riding 4 knots to a foiling 12knots. In this gear you need to manage the power and drag ratio of the rig. Pull the kicker on and Cunningham on until you can sail with the boom on the centreline (mainsheet block to block) without spilling wind. Your drag will be at its minimum and the power will be the maximum you will need. However no wind is so constant that you can just set it and forget it and if you do find yourself falling off the foils after sailing into a light patch then ease the outhaul straight away .If the wind is dying you wont have time to do anything else and the KA MSL10 powers up well like this. In second gear your primary control is the outhaul

3rd Gear. In a medium breeze upwind the fastest Moths to the windward mark are the highest ones. Pointing comes from the winward “push” developed by your hydrofoils as you heel the boat to windward but it also comes from that lower leach of your sail. You should be looking at that bit of leach between the bottom batten and the third one up and try to get that perfectly straight. You do this by alternately pulling the kicker on, then the cunnigham on. The head will be bladed and loose like a birds wing or the head of a fast windsurfer sail because the centre of effort has moved and the power is coming from lower down the sail. In 3rd gear your primary control is the Cunningham for managing variations in the wind speed..

“Cruise control” .This applies to downwind work which most people think is just the same as upwind. It isn’t, you may still have the boom on the centreline but you don’t generally heal to windward and you get to make gains by bearing away. I find a small easing of the kicker on the final approach to the windward mark is all that’s needed to get the head to “self work” and that gives me time to forget about the rig and plan my approach to the leeward mark. I’ve often seen people needing to constantly fiddle with controls, a sign that the mast and rig dont work well together. I use consistently high kicker loads down wind and in a breeze when I move to a softer mast this is where I see the real speed gains. It improves my downwind speed as much as my upwind. Primary control here is the cunnigham which is used to control mast bend and move the fullness forward if you need to sail low. Useful if you have to sink low to get through a finish or round a mark.

These are the wind ranges and points of sailing your rig need to take you through. My rig does, and that’s why I think I’m so consistent. If you can achieve the same with whatever equipment you have then you are on the right road too.

Finally I have a habit of not changing sails if I can help it. I like to get to get to know a sail intimately and that’s because I believe the last 10% of performance is basically hidden and is only revealed after you’ve both spent some time together. If the above makes sense then just like me you’re going to have to find it to. You won’t do that by having a random multi make sail programme.

Here are some additional observations from Andrew McDougall, who always uses the MSL 13.

“The physical difference between MSL13 and MSL10B is ridiculously small, but the difference on the water is huge.

The MSL10B is an easy sail, smooth and efficient, utilising the 8 m² of sail area in a way that is not extreme considering the speeds we are foiling at. The MSL13 on the other hand, requires more tuning between modes. For me this is a small price to pay for the extra power of the 13 has. I am a little heavier than the average moth sailor, and certainly not smooth moving around the boat, so the extra power is worth the extra work, allowing me to make boat handling errors and be able to get quickly back on the foils.

Like Simon, I only use one sail: the MSL13 and normally I try to only use one mast, the KA/Mach2 soft mast, so that I can rig and forget. (And forget to de rig! - Si)

This rig can be a handful at times, requiring lots of vang and Cunningham to blade it out for efficient upwind work, or to get rid of power at the top of the sail when sailing downwind in extreme conditions.

Upwind it works quite similarly to the MSL10B, but it is downwind where the technique can be completely different. The trick of sailing downwind fast is getting the balance of low drag and right power correct. Too little vang will knuckle up the front of the sail causing high drag, too much vang will not allow the sail to twist enough to get the top working. The MSL10B does not like having little vang, so both upwind and downwind modes are similar. I.e. sail fast and get the apparent forward. The MSL13 on the other hand, with its fuller head, can work well with low vang tensions allowing a low ‘soak’ mode that is not as available to the MSL10B. I sail in this mode most of the time, particularly if the wind is strong or if the wind is very light. In strong winds because going high won't make you any faster, in light winds because the angles are so bad that any depth you can get gives very big gains.

The important thing to understand with the Moth is that the range of speeds and power requirements are more varied than almost any other boat, and not necessarily just because the conditions change. This means that any rig that is too far outside the middle ground is not going to work. This is why we have two sails that are very similar, right in the middle of the extremes.

I get reminded every time I sail these boats that adjustments generally need to be very small. It is tempting to make large adjustments when you feel you are not on the pace, but it's highly possible that you are only slightly off with your tuning but causing many knots of boat speed difference. A large adjustment will often end up on the other side of the setting you need. You need to be disciplined when other boats around you are going faster: knowing that you must make small and considered adjustments to get yourself back up to speed.”

And by the way, I was the fastest, not Simon ;)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Life at the extremes

We flew around the harbour last weekend, on a windward leeward course so tight that I was already planning my entry into the leeward mark at the same time as the windward bearaway. I had on my KA MSL10B and the soft mast which I used for several of the worlds races and it rocked.

I have to say I did enjoy the handicap racing on Sunday. It was good fun but there are too many variables to really take it seriously and only the mentally deliquent get worked up about it. Yet I do think I will do more, and last Sunday I managed to rediscover how to gybe, which had not been a strength of late. I ripped upwind double lapping i14's and the other boats and it's really only in this kind of racing that you get a sense of how fast these little boats go. At the Worlds we all go roughly the same speed and you dont seem to notice.

But on Friday I took some time out and motored to East Head on "Callisto" where I anchored, read a book and generally got away for a bit. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest and as I watched Moths flying past I wondered about the two extremes of the boats I owned. Specifically which one is "greener". Sure my Mach 2 won't degenerate in the same way as my yacht, it will probably last longer than me and you put together, but wooden boats aren't very geen either ar they? The great oak forests of England and the Teak forests of India are now long gone due to wooden boat production. If you doubt it, try to get hold of a piece of mahogany!

See I told you it was a relaxing afternoon.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Teenage Kicks

OK I'm over it, That event has now gone, consigned to the history books and recorded by an engraving and a few pics on a lap top, Oh and I straightened the trophy out with a rubber mallet. It was never was meant to be square.

This little class of ours is special but something has been bothering me. It's a question that Clean asked me in the final Sailing Anarchy Cocktail hour. That question was "what are you doing for the kids who are trying to get into Moths?" and basically it floored me. "I.. um.. take 'em out in my boat" wasn't a good answer then and it certainly isn't now.

So what to do? It's a truism that we loose lots of kids to other sports, but mainly street corners after the junior and the youth programmes have finished. Why? Because for a life hungry brand aware kid something from sailings antique roadshow just ain't gonna cut it.

It's the parents who have to get aware. The kids can't afford foiler moths, you can take them out as many times as you like and sure they run back to their Oppi's and Tera's with renewed enthusiam in the same way you drive home enthusiastically from a track day, but soon they are just too old..

So Mom and Dad, you've got to get sailing brand aware! Start buying up the perfectly good and very affordable Prowlers and Bladeriders that are now a few years old and get your son or daughter into the coolest class around, I promise you they won't leave, no one ever does, and in the end it will be a damn site cheaper than a Methadrone habit.

I had a great offer for my boat this week, so tempted to take it but I didn't. Why? because I will never get a new one probably and also because I've written to both of the schools my boys are at offering to coach the kids and do talks and stuff. I may need the boat as a prop. It's still not much of an answer Clean but its better than the one I gave you in Dubai.


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Thank you for the music

Wow what an event! I'm home and I am offsetting the jet lag by spending long periods of time staring at the trophy I just won. Largely in disbelief.

It's history tells a story, one that on this particular piece of silver goes back to 1963, It's a story of change, a story of winners (and by definition losers) and of winners again, and of course travel to places others don't get to see. It's the story of the greatest racing class in the world.

There is however only one thing that's different now than back then, and that's that I get to replay the event over and over, not in my head, but on my computer. The media did a fantastic job and the scale of awareness they have brought to our class over the last couple of weeks was and is unprecedented. We must consider them friends and family and give them priority status if they are willing to row to the windward mark rather than motor.

Anyway I feel hugely proud and humble to have won the Puma Moth Worlds in Dubai but the thing that excites me about these events isn't necessarily the thought of winning, although I do dream about it before hand, but its the energy I get from seeing my friends again and meeting new people. The guys in Dubai did a wonderful job and the atmosphere was incredible. At almost every other sailing event I can't wait to leave the area after sailing, but in Dubai I just wanted to hang around..

However one of the best things for me was seeing the improvement in the British fleet. Ricky Tagg achieved his goals by coming 13th in his first ever Moth Worlds, Adam was 10th and Mike Lennon did really well (although he wont admit it) to get to wear GBR 8 on his sail.

A couple of apologies from me. One to my mom for swearing on TV and the other to my mate Bora for being unnecessarily aggressive after the slalom when we exchanged a little skin.

So now its back to looking at my trophy. Thank you to everyone for your help, support and best wishes, you've made me feel great for a few days, but particularly to Andrea, who makes me feel great all of the time anyway.

Over and out

Monday, 8 March 2010

Highway to the danger zone

Holy shit its Viper! Thats what I was thinking when Bora and I exchanged a little skin at the slalom yesterday. A bare knuckle moth fight where normal rules dont apply and the winner takes all. Bora and I had a frank an honest discussion after the race, I finished 2nd and he was 3rd, and in hindsight perhaps we both should have kept our butts above the hardeck. Rob Gough, won moving on from his second place last year. He's the current slalom king.
Today in Fightertone the mood is relaxed. The sailing club looks like a call centre with computers open and sailors trying to keep busy. Two hours to go until we go ballistic. There is no wind but we may get 10 knots by the start.
Last night Puma hosted a cool little party and I found myself thinking how lucky I was to be at a place like this and today with "Chasing Cars" in my headphones the feeling is no different. I guess I'll soon find out whether I'm still capable of soaring with the top boys or only good enough to fly rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Now thats what I call music..

Its gonna be light for the next few days, and whilst the sea breeze may come, its certainly changed the form guide. Yesterday showed that if you got it right you got it very right but if you got it wrong? Well..
The first race yesterday in marginal foiling conditions I went round the first mark second behind Mike Lennon, with Scotty on my tail and Ricky Tagg up there too. We low rode down the run until the breeze filled in from behind and Bora screemed down the left side corner. With a third of the run to go I was in the lead but kinda messed up the final approach up to take 5th. Mike Lennon grabbed a gust and won.

The next race I nailed the first beat and won the two lapper by a few minutes but finished with a cracking headache and Chris kindly gave me some more water but I didnt do the last race. Maybe I should wear sunglasses too.

So the UAE nationals were won by Chris Graham in his Mach 2 who tellingly put together a 3,2,2 yesterday. He now jumps to the front of the form guide if the conditions stay like this all week, he seems to have a slight edge on the rest of us and is sailing well.

We have the slalom today which will be fun as always, although with Scotty, Rob Gough and Amac in my group its a toughy to get through to the next round.

For the Worlds, I feel good about my speed on the foils but there is a certain randomness to these conditions which I think has most of the top lot worried. Oh well, its not raining and if only we can change the dinghy park music to something better than "Now thats what I call music 8" then it wont be a bad place to be..

Plenty of discussion on pumping, ooching and how we should take the class forward for light wind sailing but for now, for this event, you cant change it. Rules are rules. Better just get on with it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Arabian Knights

Today is the first day of racing at the Moth Worlds in Dubai. Actually its the UAE nationals for two days, then Sunday is a layday before we race for real on Monday. Todays it blowing and err a little rainy but the club is in full swing and the atmothsphere is good.

Yesterday we had some inpromptu short windward/leewards in an unstable wind that was shifting through maybe 15 degrees. Scotty is going well. Arnaud was back on the pace after a sail change and Bora is looking good. I'm going OK too but with many sailors yet to show there stuff its hard to know the form yet.

Its a funny wind that feels strong and we're certainly cranking upwind but if you tack its really hard to get back on the foils. But when it blows, like its doing now, the waves are fierce and just getting downhill will be the biggest test. Next week is looking lighter but we'll see...

Gear wise I'm pleased with the new softer Mach 2 Mast on the KA MSL10B. It seems I can hang with the big boys in a breeze. If it gets lighter I will put my new Southern Spars Carbon rod rigging on and possibly go up a stiffness on the mast. Thierry Martinez arrived last night so you will be sure to see some good pictures on his site here

Monday, 22 February 2010

Spanish Armada

Last weekend we were at Alan Hillman's excellent Pro Vela sailing school in Murcia, Spain and the venue for the "Mothfest" in May. It was a chance for me to do some tacking/gybing practice and also to meet Alan, who had just taken delivery of his new Mach 2. It was cold actually but I could see how nice it will be in May.

Andrea borrowed one of Alans Bladerider RX's and Simon (Si Fi) Fisher and Pablo Arandia brought their Mach 2's along. We had some good time on the water and with some short sharp windward/leeward races everyone improved a lot!

Foiler girl. Andrea won a race!

Yachting great Ian Walker was also down and had his first go in a Moth doing really well as you'd expect, but declaring "I've never been so terrified" ..

Over a few beers we talked about that elusive Channel crossing... Si Fi and I are keen to do it. If anyone knows of a south coast based fast boat that can be used to pull us out if it all goes wrong.. please let me know!

Anyway IMCA Spain has been born with Pablo/Si Fi and Alan heading up the class association. And with flights fifty quid from Bournemouth its tempting to become a "country member"

I enjoyed my time in Alan's boat and proved my tacking is OK from starboard to port but the other way round is still a little tricky.. See below for the good bit.

Next weekend its off to the worlds. Gulp!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Week need

Tomorrow we go to Pro Vela to see Alan Hillman and to meet the other Spanish Moth sailors to sail in a place that's currently 14 degree's. That is 14 degree's warmer than here but its been a bloody long winter and it doesn't seem to get better. I really need a break. I thought the America's Cup would lead me out of this depression but like scared heavyweight boxers they've run for the skirting boards at the slightest sign of danger. I spoke with Alan Block today and he thinks the cup should be melted down, and I agree. It's time is up. It should be used as the new Moth Mr Universe trophy. If nothing else we have the guts they lack. Sailors like my hero Admiral Lord Nelson would laugh at them. "So the nasty nasty swelly man might get you? Oh come here poppet!"

My boat is in a box now, ready and waiting to go to Dubai. I guess I am too and I will surely be one of the favorites if the ambient air temperature is less than 5 degrees. It has not been higher in the all the training I've done, which isn't much, and when I did sail, I would probably have only scored 5 out of 10. Still we'll see. England expects, but they can expect it of the other English this time can't they lads?

But what of all this talk of pumping onto the foils and stuff. Well let me tell you the rule is academic 'cos you can't get a Moth onto the foils with two pumps. Full stop, or err.. Period. Anyway I dont mind either way, I just think the class has a good track record of managing change and the processes in place to discuss this. Every member has a vote no? We must put the class first.

But I like the Worlds, my greatest friends I see there, I get to meet new people, customers and competitors, and I see ego's made and ego's broken. Who the fuck knows what will happen, but as Nelson once said, "No Captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside his enemy"

Bertarelli and Ellison would do well to remember that.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

My Worlds Form Guide

Here is my form guide for the Worlds coming up in Dubai.

1st place, Scott Babbage. Australia. I truly think Scott will win. Apparently the organisers will play the "Top Gun" soundtrack in the dinghy park. Of course the first spoken words in Top Gun are "Morning Scott". To me that's a sign. Weakness is that he's hard on boats. Scott hasn't actually sunk yet but there was probably a Babbage on the Titanic.

2nd Place, Arnaud Psarofaghis. Switzerland. Slow starter and needs to be up there from race one if he's to do well. Well prepared with frequent visits to St Tropez to train. On/off Facebook relationship status updates indicate an active winter. Will probably fly if we can get enough fluids back into him in time.

3rd Place, Bora Gulari. USA Prosperous Professional and seemingly comes with his own news desk. Will the current World Champion go from good to great? Its been a fabulous year for Bora, now an American Idol. Get him to sing "I dreamed the dream".. and it could be Susan Boyle...

4th Place, Dalton Bergan USA, Evidently been working hard. Keeps himself to himself. Being beaten by Bora at events although pedigree would suggest otherwise. Good bloke.

5th Place, Jean Pierre Ziegert Switzerland. JP's gonna be quick! Fast in the light, and like Arnaud training on the French Riveria. Prone to excitement. Can resemble a foilborne version of one of Spielberg's gremlins.. at its most agitated.

6th Place, Andrew McDougall. Australia. Does age poison us, or do we poison age? Seemingly the latter. 2nd at Sydney International and winner of the Australian Nationals. Faster this year. Will he cope with nature's juggernauts? Those Dubai waves...

7th Place, Rob Gough Tasmania. The Tasmanian Devil is the size of a small dog, and like Rob stocky and muscular. Will fight hard for his place and one to watch.

8th Place, Adam May UK. Got an optimist on foils and frankly this result is as optimistic. Only just unpacked from the last Worlds, but he is very good. If its light he could be top three. That Olympic pedigree will come shinning through and you will be looking at his transom.

9th Place, Tomaz Copi. Slovenian 470 star and paragliding champion. Getting his second Mach 2 delivered to the event. 65kg light and could finish much higher up. A real unknown, but the Slovenian for "well done mate" is err.."Dobro mate". Better get used to saying it.

10th Place Mike Lennon UK. Pathological boat bimbler and serial Moth Sailor. Been sailing hard at "Ice Station Zebra" this winter, or Hayling Island SC as we call it in the summer. Done his time and deserves a result. Moderate conditions could put him much higher up.

So there we have it.

Friday, 29 January 2010

January Sails

Andrea Ralph sailing my boat last weekend. I think more girls should be sailing Moths.

We had a female World Champion in 1968 (Marie Claude Fauroux of France) and we still have a very nice womans trophy.

Will we ever have another? Well imagine if we ever get a sub six knots week...

With sailors of Andrea's ability you don't need to spend much time telling them how to do it, they soon figure it out..

Just send 'em out and go and have lunch..

Meanwhile it was cold and dark training this week, about as far removed from Miami as anything I can imagine.

How the other half live..


Thursday, 28 January 2010

Amaculate Conception!

Andrew McDougall out sailing today at Black Rock. Eagle eyed viewers will notice that the sail doesn't look like an MSL10, or a 13 for that matter.

Wanna see more? Come to Dubai.