EFG Moth EuroCup 2014, Act 5 Germany

Benoit Marie, winner of the Mini Transat 2013
Benoit Marie, winner of the Mini Transat 2013


So you want to join the 20 minuters eh?

“18 minutes is optimum for me, maybe 19” We stood there wondering exactly what he was talking about.  He couldn’t mean sleep could he?  Maybe he’d got confused by our question and was talking about another thing he liked doing in bed.  He is French after all.

“For the first 3 days we had a storm so I could only catnap.  So basically I slept about 20 minutes every three hours.  I had to keep fixing the boat as the storm was ripping it to bits.  When I got to the Canaries  I was so tired I couldn’t work out my time on distance to see how long I could sleep.  It was 5 miles and I was doing 15 knots.  How hard should that be!  I eventually worked out I could sleep for 5 minutes but I woke up every 1 minute freaking out.  I was a little on edge at that stage.  I slept quite well after making sure I’d rounded the islands.  The best 90 minutes sleep I ever had”

Neil Baker, not a Mini-Transat sailor
Neil Baker, not a Mini-Transat sailor

Ok, he was talking about sleep, and not much.   He went on to talk about how he happily sleeps for 1 and a half hours at a time or just sub-20 minute cat naps whilst doing the transat last autumn. This quote is From Benoit Marie:  http://www.sail-world.com/USA/Mini-Transat—Interview-with-Benoit-Marie/117212 Yes, Benoit won the mini transat last year and now he has a Mach 2.  Of course he does.  He’s a pro-sailor!  They don’t fanny around with water pushers.  Benoit is getting the hang of it too.  He only got his boat a few months before the worlds and he was right next to me in every race, not annoying at all, I’ve only had mine 4 years now.  I can see why he fancied a go at moth racing too.  His approach to the canaries sounds a lot like my normal approach to the leeward mark in a windy moth race.  It’s all a bit blurry, I might hit it as I can’t work out whether or not I need to gybe or not and I’m scared.  I’m still enjoying it though, just like he seems too as he wants to go for a 50 foot multi-hull next time.

Neil going for a cat nap
Neil, going for a cat nap

I then reflected on the fact that his 18 minutes of sleep was about the same amount of time we were spending doing two laps.  In fact on the one lap we did that was only 2 laps Chris Rast, the Patonator and Nils Akervall all finished in under 18 minutes.  The twenty minuters indeed.  I set myself the target of being in the top three in a race.  That was what this weekend was all about.  Showing a bit of leg and bagging a top 3 for once, come on Nelly, pick your skirt up! Then I could say I was a twenty minuter.  Up diddly up, down diddly down and back home in time for tea and medals.  Hurrah!

In a totally inappropriate reference to the activities of August one hundred years ago,3 brave, intrepid members of the British Flying Squadron loaded up at Queen Mary and headed deep into northern Germany late on Thursday evening.  Under the cover of darkness it was easy to slip past the border guards (they never seem to care when you leave England do they?) then the plan was to storm across the lowlands faster than the Schlieffen Plan itself.  We’d sent an advance raiding party to check it out but the traitor had succumbed to payment from ze Germans to teach them how to start.

Dan Ward not having a kip
Dan Ward when not having a kip

I’m sure you know that feeling when your head snaps upright in the passenger seat of a car in the middle of the night.  Well, this time was because Dan was pulling into a service station muttering that we had plenty of time and could get an hours kip.  It was 4.30 am and the poor sod hadn’t slept yet.  He’d taken over the driving at 1 and Andrew had jumped in the back.  I’d gone to do nav, which meant I fell asleep after about 20 mins.  I said “I’ll drive” but Dan just slumped and muttered something about having time to sleep.  I got out the car and went round his side but I think he was asleep by the time I got there; might have pushed it a little far this time mate!  We continued and made it to Wittensee for about 9am for the planned 2pm start.  All was going to plan.  Well, almost, Andrew had sliced his thumb good and proper taking off his cable ties so we could get his boat on the lower level of the trailer he’d borrowed.  Still, it’s all part of the fun for those magnificent men in their flying machines.

Andrew Friend
Andrew Friend after patching up his thumb

Initial inspection of the lake looked good.  It was basically Grafham but the clubhouse was a nice little wooden hut rather than a horrifying concrete block.  Best of all we got told the sponsors, Immac, would provide us with free beer and food morning noon and night.  Apparently they aren’t the chaps that make the veet type cream though so the Patonator would have to carry on shaving his chest the old fashioned way.  Still, there was also 1000 euros for the first prize, 500 for second and 300 for third, so thanks to a total refusal to stare facts in the face we threw our boats in the water convinced we’d go home rich, or at least with enough eurocash to pay for the trip!

Race start
The Paytonator winning yet another start

I’ll be honest, the racing was chuffing brilliant.  By far the best I’ve had since the Weymouth nationals.  Ice flat water, 20 knots and 30 boats tearing around like they’d stole it.  We had a great time.  I was only really getting going on the first day but Dan and Andrew were nipping at the heels of top three continually.  However, Chris, Ben and Nils were just a bit too solid and were clear 1,2,3 respectively after the first day.  Ze Germans have been getting better too.  Max was showing great form considering his boat had barely been sailed and Carlo had clearly been paying attention to his coaching from the Patonator all week and was showing us how to start.  Then we all went home for tea and medals, well, beer handed out by Carlo personally and enough lasagne to feed an army (ok, poor I know but I’m running out of references now).  If you really want to know what happened look at the results and watch the videos from Anja.  Nothing is more boring than a list of who went round each mark in what order.  It was great to see a load of prowlers and blade riders out racing though.  If only we could get more of that going at home, there’s enough of them after all.

Chris Rast leading Ben Payton
Chris Rast leading Ben Payton

Saturday dawned, another great breeze of 15-20 in some gusts. The Flying Squadron got together for a motivational chat and we reminded ourselves we were abroad, was it business or pleasure? We were here to do the business and it WOULD be a pleasure. Well, something like that anyway, I just wanted that bloody top 3. On Friday I was starting to show a little leg. I just needed to convert possession for once.

We knew Sunday was a right off as the forecast was pants so they had given us 5 races on Friday and we planned 4 today, once saved in case we could sail Sunday.  We smashed through them again.  As it became clear Chris and the Patonator were going head to head the match racing started.  Well, they tried to get close in the pre-start but lets face it, it’s basically impossible in a moth.  Fair play for trying though.  For a grand I guess it’s worth it!  Basically though, Chris had the edge on speed and won a lot of races.

The Paytonator
The Paytonator

Still, I was getting better and better.  I finally seem to have gotten the Lennon sail just where I want it, great timing the day before I sell the boat, and I had got up to speed with my settings and had remembered how to sail downwind in flat water and big breeze:  Really, really high.  Then keep it  dead flat so you don’t stick the rudder out in the air and face plant.  I came off the line with a perfect pin start.  Dan just below and Rast just to windward.  I held my line and said to myself “come on nelly, it’s now or never so just leave it all on the course”.   Standard bad chat but I also gave Pocket Bullets a tap and reminded her it was almost certainly our last race together so let’s do the business.

Right at that point the Patonator rolled me, apparently intent on reaching off to take out Dan or something.  What is it about gaser sailors?  I held my line and tacked inside them for the layline, finally a decent tack.  I’d tried the same thing on the previous race but thrown it away by not re-cleating the kicker as I dumped it pre-tack.  I was just ahead but  Paton threw both moobs over his shoulder and rolled me.  Dan did too but I gybed inside him on the run and went after the Patonator like he was glazed in honey.  I was right on his heels but we had to double gybe for the mark and I lost a bit.  Half way up the next leg I had the option to try and tack inside him again but I’d played it safe and went just over the layline to ensure Dan couldn’t get me.

Storming down the run with a very satisfied feeling I finished third and started sailing to the beach…only to realise no one else was.  What a complete TW@T.  I couldn’t make the layline as I’d drifted too far down so I had to do three tacks and ended up 6th.  Summed up the year really.  I said sorry to PBs as we sailed in, she hadn’t done anything wrong.  In fact she never has and I was pretty sad to be selling her.  Her only crime was to be bought 6 months before they came out with the new skinny foils.  Still, she’s gone to a good home in Kiel with a German Laser sailor, Phillipp.

I couldn’t stay in a huff too long.  Carlo was thrusting a bottle of beer in my hand before I’d even taken the foils out and that was the end of that. No sailing on Sunday so  we had the prize giving and mucked off back to Blighty with a load of swag courtesy of the prize draw.

Christ Rast winner of Act5 of the EFG Moth EuroCup
Christ Rast winner of Act5 of the EFG Moth EuroCup

Top Ten:

1 SUI 4112 Rast, Chris TYC 11 11 1 1 2 1 -3 3 1 1 1
2 GBR 4  Paton, Ben LYMINGTO 14 14 (DNF) 2 1 2 2 1 2 2 2
3 SWE 4159 Akervall, Nils RSWEYC 33 33 3 3 3 5 1 5 6 -9 7
4 GBR 4059 Ward, Dan FRENSHAM 39 39 5 4 (DNF) 10 4 2 8 3 3
5 GBR 4122 Friend, Andrew NORFOLK 42 42 2 6 (DNF) 3 11 4 3 4 9
6 GER 3 Mage, Maximilien BYC 51 51 4 8 8 6 5 -12 12 8 4
7 GER 3684 Kloppenburg, Sven RSV/SCR 59 59 6 7 6 9 8 8 -10 10 5
8 GBR 4060 Baker, Niel   61 61 7 9 8 -11 9 10 7 5 6
9 FRA 3875 MARIE, Benoit SNO Sant 70 70 14 16 7 4 7 -19 4 7 11
10 GER 3389 Huber, Thomas SVBb 73 73 11 10 9 7 6 -14 11 11 8

Full results: here

Carlo when not handing out beer
Carlo when not handing out beer

I must say, it was a brilliant event.  Carlo knows how to make an event and the atmos was great, relaxed, welcoming and generally great fun.  There was even a de-brief from Chris and Ben on Friday night after sailing to share some thoughts.  Top tip from Chris was that you basically need to drop the rig back as far as you can before you can’t get under the boom.  What he didn’t add was that you probably need to drop it back further and man the truck up.  Top tip from Ben was that he uses his wand as bias adjuster upwind, as opposed to the bias adjuster.  Interesting, it doesn’t seem to slow him down that’s for sure.

In the car on the way home we had time to reflect on how easy it had been to do.  Yes, a lot of driving in 3 days but for 3 of us it was easy and cheap.  The problem is a trailer.  If only the UK class could afford to buy a trailer for people to load a bunch of boats on and trek across to these Eurocup events!!??  Lame smiley face!

I should add that I probably bored Andrew and Dan rigid with my attempt to keep them awake by playing the obscure film quote game. Now, get your butts above the hard deck and get over to Grafham for the next open.  I’m sure it’ll be brilliant, it’s a cert as I don’t have a boat until bloody January!

Credit for the inspiration and general inappropriate banter goes to the writers and cast of Blackadder goes forth, and of course the legend that is Rik Mayall.  Woof woof!

Credit for the write up goes to Neil Baker, credit for the photos goes to Martina Orsini