New Developments in the Moth class for 2016

yanmar_moth_hp_logoAs the 2016 Yanmar Moth World Championships Hayama Japan, 24th-29th May, loom just a matter of days away now we’ve been nearly deafened by the silence on social media and the internet in the build up. This is unusual. Normally at this stage we see talk ramp up in the yachting press and plenty more on some less reputable websites. Best of all a bunch of people who know very little about sailing, let alone foiling moths, would be gesticulating wildly on Sailing Fannyarchy’s forums about a mythical top ten with inexplicable reasons why and minimal knowledge as to who’s actually going. Sometimes it gets to near violence as fans of moth sailors from different mothospheres want to plug their hero’s Vs the rest. Then someone mentions www.benfoilingpatonfoiling.guns and the conversation stops dead in its tracks for obvious reasons.

The Waszp
The Waszp

Why the silence? Some speculate it’s because few people are going so they haven’t really thought about it? Others wonder if it could be something else, perhaps people are more interested in the development of Amacs starter foiler. That COULD be true, but it’s pretty unlikely. #shouldhaveboughtarealmoth is a more likely future social media phenomenon. (ed note, this is my opinion and NOT the moth class association). They would like to point out they are a lot more welcoming to people who buy wazsps. Just don’t be offended when they point out that you should have bought a real moth, SORRY, sorry). Still, opinion on it within the Moth class varies from the optimists with “it’ll get young people foiling” to the other end of the spectrum of “remember what the Laser did to the moth class 40 years ago”.

The Japan worlds is going to be different for one reason, but business as usual for another. The difference will be the turn out. It’s likely to be below 100 for the first time in a few years. However, business as usual will be the quality at the front of the fleet, Semi-Pro’s, Ex Pro’s, Pro’s and Mega Pro’s (new definition for those who’ve won a moth worlds previously) will pack out the top 20 with the odd “self-employed” amateur filling out the front bunch. In fact the average ability at this worlds will be by far the highest yet as very few uninitiated punters will turn up for a laugh to get in the way of the serious racing. Drop a tack on the first beat at this event and you’ll be in the back third, guaranteed. Only gold fleeters need apply. This will please the front runners as it will keep out the chaff, make the racing tougher and mistakes costly. There won’t be any voting on whether to launch if the wind is over 18 knots. The Patonator will have launched before anyone has thought about it, Josh and Scott will be calmly heading out to the start at 30 knots sipping their latte’s (or was it a cup of tea Scott?) and that’ll be that. This world champ will have earnt their crust.

Cookie's Rocket "Racoon" SSD (Solid State Deck)
Cookie’s Rocket “Racoon” SSD (Solid State Deck)

Another reason for silence could be because there has been limited development since the last worlds. The one change is that brits have all got bowsprits after eventually acknowledging that Cookie was, as usual, onto something. However, they have been around for a while and have merely gone mainstream. Contrary to the Aussie belief that this is because the brits can’t win the worlds on the water and will have to do it using the old school Greek tactics, Kevin, Simon and Rashley Racing believe bowsprits make the boats handle better in rougher water. Since the entire UK fleet sails at Stokes Bay now, you can understand why they have them. Amac’s stable of Mach 2, Antipodean based, talent doesn’t seem to have done much that anyone knows about north of the equator. Most likely they’ve stuck with the tried and tested formula of doing nothing but sailing a lot to hone their already incredible boat speed and handling. There has been the odd picture of a mach 2 with a bowsprit, but they are not on the boats of well known mothies and they look pretty dodge to say the least. Based on a quick view of an internet pic, one could question if they actually improve the boat or make it worse.

Of course the old skool moth development was all about foils, but nothing has changed much in that area for years now. The Exocet foils are the same, the Macita foil is the same, apart from being made somewhere else, and Mach 2 are spending all their time making metal foils for the less fortunate (sorry, sorry).

Still, nothing quite gets the tongues wagging of an armchair moth sailor more than a bit of speculative new kit, and one astonishing new development has snuck out in the UK moth class recently, just in time for the latest world champs.  However, for once, it’s not come from the mad professor cookie in the west-country but from the normally reserved stable of Maguire Boats.

Dan getting ready for a first sail in his new boat
Dan getting ready for a first sail in his new boat

Previously having had just 3 choices of boat colour, Red, white and a sort of light-ish grey colour that was a bit dull, Maguire has added a new Pantone to their range, Navy. Or Royal Blue apparently.

“We have always adopted a scientific and marginal gains approach to our improvements but after the testing that Dan ran we couldn’t say no to this one” said Simon Maguire, at no point in time, ever.

To find out more we interviewed Dan Ward, the first owner of the new Navy boat from Maguire down at Stokes Bay sailing club, shortly before his maiden voyage in his new boat.

“A lot of people were spending some very high amounts of money on questionable developments in the moth class.  New rigs, carbon fibre sail battens and drilling out the heads of screws to save weight etc.  I felt all that was really a bit of old hat so I spent £45,000 to do some wind tunnel testing at my Alma Mater, Southampton University.”

And what did Dan find out?

“Sure, all of the things like aero wing bars, aero tramps and so on can reduce the windage on the hull by as much as 10%.  To put that in layman’s terms that will translate to about 50m by the windward mark for a moth doing 16kts over one nautical mile.”

Hasn’t the moth class done all that already though Dan?

“Exactly. So in terms of windage we spent the first week making sure I had the optimum hair cut. That saved almost as much as the aero items on the boat. But, we then had to look elsewhere, and a change in paint was really eye opening”

How eye opening? We couldn’t wait to ask…

“When we tested the lighter colours we found they were typically at a lower temperature which meant the hull had more air friction.  But the darker colours created an effect where the air was more supple over the hull.  It created a genuine incremental gain for a moth”

So the darker the colour the better the performance then Dan?

“Absolutely.  as the colour got darker we found a bigger gain still.  We settled on Royal Blue which would deliver 3 metres over the 1 KnM leg.”

Royal Blue? Looks Navy to me?

“It’s definitely Royal Blue, Navy is very different and didn’t deliver as well in tests.”

Wow, I don’t know what to say, other than, 3 whole meters you say!?

“Yes 3 whole meters.  I’m proud to say the 3 weeks in the wind tunnel not sailing were well worth it for that kind of gain.”

For £45k?

“Well, you have to appreciate that the moth class has come a long way in the last few years so you really are looking for a marginal gain.  Plus those guys at Southampton uni are a jolly lot.  They were always laughing out loud as they work.  Especially when they look at the results.”

I guess that was around the time they handed you the invoice?

“It was now that you mention it.”

Ok, Dan.  So…you say you settled on Navy, sorry, Royal Blue?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but Black is darker, would that not have been better?  Come to think of it, aren’t the Mach 2s black?  And haven’t they consistently won the last 7 world championships?

At this point Dan had an urgent matter to attend to and swiftly stopped the interview.  He did seem a little worked up and as he walked off he put his right foot through a nearby catamaran?
Still, to summarise I think we can deduce two, maybe three things from Dan’s work:

  1. We know Dark colours are almost immeasurably faster.
  2. Moth sailors continue to spend lots of money on pointless things
  3. Dan probably did more for the sport of sailing as he walked away from the interview than he did in the Southampton University Wind Tunnel.

logo-event-Euro-Moth-2016Obviously the proof of the pudding will come from the results, but sadly this giant leap forward won’t be seen at the world championships in Japan as Dan, like many Euro based moth sailors, decided to spend the money on a new boat rather than going to Japan, the cost is similar after all. Still, we will see his new racing machine taking part in the Europeans, Bordeaux, France 18-24th June 2016. Last years Moth Euro’s had circa 80 boats and we might top out at around 100 hundred this year as the fleet builds in anticipation of the epic Garda worlds for 2017. Hopefully Dan can improve on his 5th place last year with his new kit, and it’ll all be down to the touch of Royal Blue. He’s definitely been touched in the head by something anyway.

Neil Baker