As a development class, the Moth has always attracted a small band of dedicated enthusiasts willing to put their time and effort into building their own boats. For these guys, there’s a special feeling they get when their boat starts to foil, that no production boat sailor will ever feel.
Richard Edwards, from Poole is a prime example: “It is all about the fun and satisfaction of building your own boat. I’ve built two Moths, which are the same age as my two children. I am a bit of an insomniac, so while my wife went to sleep after caring for the kids all day, I would get in the garage and get the project rolling. My current Moth is called Daisy after my Grandmother, who left me a bit of money, which I put that towards building the boat. I don’t get to many of the open meetings, but when I do, it’s great to catch up with other home builders and share our ideas. And as I say, it’s a lot of fun!
“Building your own boat is not as straight forward as buying one off the shelf. However, as the hull is out of the water, it isn’t really a problem if you get some of that wrong. The shape isn’t very important but the loads are massive, so getting the structure in the right places is more important than anything. Because we all choose different approaches to common problems, we often have professional boat builders come over to our corner to have a look at what we have been up to.” (you know who you are, Simon!)
Alex Koukourakis is a joiner by trade making all sorts of wooden structures. His fellow home builders describe him as a real craftsman with great skill and precision.
“I built the boat at home in the garage, as I haven’t got pots of money. So I got some sizes, made a male plug and the process began. Making the mould was the easy bit because it is something I do quite a lot in wood and, relatively speaking, carbon isn’t that different to work with.
“Really it’s a platform boat and it’s all about the rig and the foils. I had a lot of guidance and encouragement from Phil Oligario, a friend who’s also a home builder. He said – “just give it a go mate!” I am constantly on the phone to him working out how to do things. For me part of the attraction to Moth sailing is racing something that you have made yourself and this class is great for that because at the end of the day it’s an 11ft boat, so the materials don’t cost a lot.
“I have been Moth sailing for three years, before that I raced high performance dinghies, but that was back in the 80s when I was at school. I never got into the water pushers, why would you when you can sail a Moth and fly!
“Coming to an event like the Worlds you are here with top sailors who are pouring money into development, that is something that we as home builders could never do and you can learn a hell of a lot because the top guys are very open to us, probably more so than to their near rivals.
“My boat is quick because it has great foils, the only let down is me and my lack of practice. If you put one of the top guys in my boat there is no reason why they wouldn’t make top ten. For me that’s quite rewarding.
“However, time is the precious commodity – you should ask my missus! If you added up the hours spent home building, I would be better off just buying one but that is not what I want to do. The first time I launched the boat and she just popped up on the foils, it was just WOW! All those evenings were worth it.”
The Home Build Cup has been organised by Phillippe (Phil) Oligario of Atomik wands with a bit of help from Simon Maguire, as Phil explains:
“A lot of top class and professional sailors have come into the class in recent years and we enjoy racing against them but to be honest, we don’t have a chance of beating them. But with the Home Build Cup, we really have something to go for and that’s an important part of the history and feeling within the class.”
“There is a lot of communication between the home builders and competition as well. Right now, Richard (Edwards) is a long way ahead at The Worlds but Alex (Koukourakis) has two bad scores when he was unable to race and he is definitely going to make a big come back in the Silver fleet, maybe even win it.”
Glen Read, a Kiwi living in Winchester, is one of the latest additions to the home build fleet. His boat was completed just in time for the UK Nationals, where he unfortunately suffered a structural failure with the rear wing bars. However, after Phil, Alex and Richard had finally finished taking the p**s out him, they all gave him their best advice on how to strengthen them. So after a few days at home with some sheets of carbon and epoxy, Glen returned to Hayling in time for the Worlds with a boat that has survived very well to date with, what I have to say, is a very tidy repair.
Dave Chisholm has one of the most recent home built boats, arriving just in time for the Worlds. Dave has solved a common home build issue (i.e. concentrating on the boat and forgetting about the trolley) by building his trolley from an old ladder! However Dave is a little bit controversial amongst his fellow home builders as some consider him to be a professional boat builder…
This is a major issue for the home build cup: precisely who is a home builder?: Is it enough just to have laid up your hull? Should you make the foils as well? How many boats constitutes a production builder? etc.
All we can say at the moment, is that someone else winning on a boat that you built doesn’t count, especially if the builder runs a sailing business and has a couple of Olympic medals (Simon). And just building your own tramps is definitely not enough for a home build, especially if the builder is a former Moth World Champion (Josh).
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