The International Moth UK National Championships has come to a close in Thorpe Bay, Essex with stunning sunshine and largely light winds the dominant forces in the championship.
After a tough week of racing, it was expected that the series would go down to the wire, and that’s exactly what happened. The final race decided the title with four sailors still in with a shout of winning the event.
The weather on Saturday 15 July was stunning, with early sunshine leading to a good sea breeze. The later high water allowed enough time for four races to be held, leading to the full series of twelve races being completed.
There was drama just before the start when Kyle Stoneham, who has put so much time into organising this event, found a mouse in his wing bar while heading out onto the race course. He of course went back to shore to drop it off on land, but hit the slipway with his centreboard foil, leading to some quick sanding time to get it smooth enough to sail with.
A quick recap of the positions going into the final day; Jason Belben was leading by nine points, but Jim McMillan, Dave Kenefick and Simon Hiscocks were on the charge in the stronger winds. Would anyone be able to close the points gap on two-time champion Belben?
Jim McMillan got down to business straight away in the first race of the day with a bullet, followed by fellow title contender Simon Hiscocks knocking in a win in the next race. Jason Belben’s lead was disappearing fast with a sixth followed by a DNC.
One man who has not had his best event is last year’s runner up David Hivey. The light winds and an attraction to weed has led to some bad results and ‘loud’ moments on the race course. With the wind up for the final two races Hivey showed his true potential with a dominant performance and two bullets, moving him up to eighth overall.
David finally had a smile on his face when he told us about his day, “I managed to miss the weed for the first time all week! It was a great day’s sailing and really nice to prove I’m not rubbish at sailing. I nearly lost in one race when I had to let go of the mainsheet to avoid some weed at the bottom of the course and I nearly missed the gate, which was quite scary, but apart from that it was really good fun.”
The man who was closest to Belben going into the final race was Jim McMillan, and his final day charge 1,2,8,3 results giving him enough to win the overall title by four points. Jim was understandably ecstatic to overturn the nine point deficit: “I’m absolutely stoked! This is the first Moth event where I didn’t have to count Did Not Starts and Did Not Competes. I came here to have some fun and hopefully finish in the top ten, so to take the win I’m stoked. It’s been fantastic for the last two days – perfect Moth sailing conditions with flat water, the sun out and everyone enjoying themselves, non-stop foiling around; it’s perfect.”
Many overseas sailors have travelled to the event, including Hiroki Goto from Japan, who was enjoying the stronger winds today: “I had a few troubles on the first two days and the weed was also annoying me, but the last two days have been brilliant, and we’ve had seven races in two days. I was getting better and better so I’m feeling pretty good! I’ve been sailing in the high wind ranges this year and travelling I could only bring one sail and mast, so the last race in the strongest winds was the best for me.”
Jason Belben was understandably gutted to lose the title on the final day: “I’m disappointed. I think I sailed really badly today to be honest. I ditched one of my races to change foils, which was a good decision as I went a lot quicker afterwards. In the last race I had speed on Jim but let him go, and then downwind I managed to pitch-pole it so that was the end of the story really.”
Making a late charge onto the podium, but weighed down by results on the first two days, was Simon Hiscocks, who recorded a 5,1,2,2 score line on the final day: “It’s been a great event and the last two days have really made up for the struggles on the first two. It was unfortunate having the weed, but it was there, the results are fair, the best sailors won and we’ve had a good range of conditions.”
Praise for the event has been universal.
David Hivey: “The way the club have put on the event is absolutely amazing. The pasta and beer straight off the water, the event meals, the helpers – they’ve all been absolutely unbelievable. Kyle put a huge amount of effort into this, so hats off to him.”
Jason Belben: “It’s been a superb event. The yacht club have done everything to make it perfect onshore, and offshore they’ve done the best possible job in the conditions.”
Simon Hiscocks: “Fantastic hosting. Having us all on the green camping in the field, free breakfast in the morning, it’s been really sociable and probably one of the best Nationals I’ve been to from that respect. Impeccable really.”
Jim McMillan: “I think the club have done an amazing job. Allowing everyone to camp for free, everyone’s staying close to each other, socialising, a great atmosphere, they’ve done a splendid job this regatta. They’ve been spoiling us with the meals and I think the next Nationals has a lot to live up to!”
Liz Adams from Allen Sailing presented the prizes to the winners in all the categories and then the competitors settled in to Happy Hour, sponsored by Wetsuit Outlet, and the vast majority are staying tonight for the club social with live band.
Thorpe Bay Yacht Club really have pulled out all the stops for this event as the competitor feedback shows. Also a huge thank you to the sponsors of the event: title sponsors Allen Sailing and Noble Marine as well as WetsuitOutlet.co.uk, Maguire Boats and ShockSailing.com who have provided support for the daily pasta and beer for sailors coming off the water.