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