Monday, 29 June 2009

Baltic Ballistic

That was a great championship! I’m so glad I went to the Europeans. I cannot recall an event that I’ve ever done where the race for first was so close. Arnaud and I tied on points, we tied on the number of firsts, we tied on the number of seconds.. When we came ashore we didn’t know who had got it, we just laughed and congratulated each other, never more than a couple of metres apart after half an hour at warp speed, we were nearly always a leg in front of the rest at the finish and it was just bloody good racing.

You know that Arnaud won. He’s back to his best. We had identical Mach 2’s, both using KA sails, (although he was on a 13 and I was on a 10B) and unlike the Australian Nationals where he struggled so badly on boat speed, he’s firing on all cylinders now. I warmly congratulate him. It was a great battle and a privilege to be part of it. Bet on him at the Worlds.

For me it was everything. Importantly it brought back my love of Moth racing, something that had left me over these last few months in the UK. Back home I’d race the Saturday.. but not the Sunday. I guess it was just the law of diminishing marginal returns… The one that says if you eat a grape, it’s very nice. If you have twenty grapes, they are still good. But after a couple of hundred you are kinda sick of grapes right?

Well you are until they turn into wine, and that’s the feeling I had out there on the race course. I had a tremendous battle with someone who in the end, edged it, and sometimes it was so close, with an almost photo finish in one race, that I felt it would be good to just have been watching. Sometimes I felt like giving up, Most of the times I wanted to be heavier.. But all the time a bit of hunger started to come back and that event did me a lot of good.

And giving away 8 kilos I was pleased to be battling it out. I was the quickest downwind. Arnaud had the edge up when the wind was at its most,, he was not high, but he’s very fast. In the last race with my usual slow out of the blocks first beat (gotta work on that) I could feel my heart almost bouncing out of my chest as I clawed myself back into the lead. But on the long starboard that the shore made us take, just shy of the lay line, I tacked on Arnaud and didn’t have the horse power to keep him there in the 20 knots that made the last race the windiest of the four we sailed on the final day. (BTW this is a Northern Europe 20 knots, not the unleaded Aussie or West Coast USA 20 knots, both of which I’ve raced in within the last year, and they do got that go that speed, but lack the sensation of being hit with a wet towel)

The prize giving night was good, although many people had gone. Rod kicked things off with the infamous tiller of doom, (see above) and the lady from the sailing club who downed a litre of red wine made us all laugh with her attempts to stand up afterwards.

As I left Horsens this morning the bay was once again calm. The fresh winds only occupying our three days of racing. I new that today the sea breeze would have gently built and I would have been ballistic, as I had been in training the week before. But I didn’t ponder on that for long. I had some of the best racing I’d ever had, principally against just one other boat, and I wouldn’t have swapped that for the world.

So now I’m writing down all the things I can improve, the list is long, but that’s great and it starts with getting a little bit heavier, cos sometimes 65 kilo’s just aint enough… And the Worlds isn’t far away.

And I can’t wait!

Thank you to Soren, Henrik and the others from Horsens Sailing Club who made us so welcome and put on such a great event, and finally thank you to Andrew McDougall and McConaghy for designing and building me a great boat. I have never been so fast. They have definitely taken things to the next level and if anyone doubts it. Just look at the results. Finally, finally it was so wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones.

Until the next time


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Europeans Warm up.

Horsens, Denmark. and the Europeans start on thursday, most people are already here, or arriving soon. 46 boats should make for great racing. Yesterday I hit the water for the first time in full sun and 8-12 knots of breeze. About 25 other boats were out, everyone testing out their speed. I was fast on this pre practice err..practice day. Current European Champion Arnaud Psarofaghis was quick but didnt have the height and he was back using a KAMSL13 for the afternnon session.

It doesnt really matter now though, people will get faster and faster and the forecast is sunny and 15 knots for the event. Hmm.. heard that before.

The Brits have erected a small marque which has been quickly taken over by two ducks, or "dinner" as they are now referred too.

More later, we are waiting for the wind now...


Thursday, 11 June 2009


Yesterday still thought it was June 08, but then the sun came out, and natures Prozac made everything better. I didnt even mind that the wind had died. I put a new sail on with a view to trying it. I couldnt, but still.. It measured OK.

With the European Championships just around the corner I guess everyone is working hard. I know Arnaud Psarofaghis, the current European Champion, is completeing some final tuning and that as the holder, he has to be the favorite. Michael Lennon has done everything you should do to ensure a great result and he'll be up there too. Mike Cooke has had a great run in the UK recently, finshing second in the UK Inland Championships and winning the Weymouth open last weekend. He'll carry that momentum all the way to Denmark and will be the boy to watch, especially in the light. So too will Mikis Psarofaghis from Switzerland

I think Adam May will do well, he's sailed there before and will go a few knots quicker with his mind on the job That will depend on his Olympic coaching obligations.

But there are other good sailors and some depth too. there will be interesting battles up and down the fleet but I think the event will be won by either a Swiss or British sailor.

Friday, 5 June 2009

British Summer Time

Well June is here but really it should be re branded February, because the temperature has plummeted, as it did last year when we were at Weymouth. An event notable only for its pure misery. I read the other day that apparently the month of June is known as the month with the the most number of marriages in the UK.

Which is logical as sharing bodily warmth is a recognised way of preventing hypothermia.

And it was Weymouth Moth open this weekend too. The WPNSA, under construction when we were there last, is now finished and I've never seen so many ramps. It was windy Saturday and as I struggled to hold my boat on the concrete I knew we were in for a wild ride. Launching into the harbour hid the worst of it, but when we got round the corner, bang! A full and lump 25 knots hit us, the wind was OK, but the waves, coming through the two gaps in in the harbour wall made the sea confused and aggressive.

My immediate thoughts were "what the hell am I doing out in this with only two weeks to the Europeans?" and, as I looked across at Adam I silently pleaded with him to say we should go in. Downwind I was very solid in an "oh shit" kind of a way. It was almost fun, and I might have laughed out loud if I hadn't been frozen through fear... and cold.

Almost fortunately though the webbing that I'd replaced the kicker rope with, in order for it to be kinder to the boom, took its role rather too seriously and broke. That meant I could go it. And escaped any real damage save the obligatory destroyed tramp on the concrete ramp.

I love the Moth class, It's cool that everyone is still there waiting for the next boat home, whether under its own steam or being towed, our own version of the Battle of Britain spirit. Next came Rod, wild eyed and laughing, then Andrew Friend, rig less, then Jason Russell, rig less, then Olivier Vidal, err rig less.. But no one had told Moth new boy James Phare that you should do anything other than sail in that, and he came back a bit shot up but still airworthy. The next ace in was Robin Wood, Moth World Champion in 1983 and 1984, then Mike Cook, then Adam next who had to drift the entire length of the harbour as without a wand, he couldn't get down wind. The rest all came back and last man home was Mike Lennon, who won the the race but I think Paul Hayden and Jason also managed to finish.

I couldn't make yesterday, but apparently it was lighter. Mike Cook won two, Adam the last one in a light semi foiling fickle breeze. Mike Cooke won overall, Mike Lennon second and Adam third. Next stop Europeans in Denmark.

Monday, 1 June 2009


The year I started Moth sailing... Same beach at least...

Killing me softly

"Why are you making so much noise?"

"I'm trying to get a barrel of beer upstairs"...

"Have you won one?"

"No, I've drunk one.."

Was how Sunday started.

But Saturday was awsome sailing, an empty harbour with too many boats that put an emphysis on boat handing. Like a hedgehog trying to cross the M25 I darted this way and that, keeping out of everyones way. The moon was leaving again and it confused the sea, making its spirits wobbled as the hurt became too great. It made liquid cliffs and holes to fall into and and through this wildest tantrum I told it I still loved it. The boat was magical, offering me a glimpse of true control in a Jonathan Seagull kind of way.

Anway on Sunday I had to get into the boat, It was the only way to stay alive after the party the night before, and out in the bay, caught in the middle of a fight between the north and south breezes, I trained with Mike Lennon. I was please with my speed, and going downwind for the first time really I was able to get to block to block on the main sheet, hiked hard, so fast....