22 Moths entered the Holt Tide Ride at Hayling Island Sailing Club, making it the largest fleet and promising spectator friendly, high intensity short course racing just off the club. After the early briefing, the Moth class had to wait on the shore until their scheduled slot in the early afternoon. With Westerly 12-20 knot breeze initially there was some impatience and high expectations for the racing but as launch time neared the wind increased to a consistent 25 knots with gusts over 30 Knots with a vicious wind against tide chop. Geoff Carveth volunteered to be the crash test dummy and admirably demonstrated the likelihood of survival. The race team held the fleet on shore hoping for a window but it stayed firmly shut.
Sunday saw a complete contrast in conditions with a very shifty westerly wind of 8-12 knots. Racing was going to be testing with holes in the wind, a strong flood tide and a lot of weed. The course was short and a simple windward leeward but with two downwind gates and a final leeward gate and with only 3 laps placing great emphasis on starting, boat handling and quick decision making.
In the first of the 4 qualification races, Mike Lennon and Adam May were first out of the blocks to lead at the windward mark. The downwind leg was frenetic, requiring the leaders to gybe close to the windward mark to make the first offset gate and pick their way through the fleet still coming upwind with closure speeds of over 20 knots! Adam gybed first and was just ahead by the first gate downwind. He put in a polished performance to take the first race with a healthy lead from Rod Harris, Tim Penfold, who was competing in his first event in his new Mach2, with Mike falling back to fourth. After his impressive start, Tim suffered an asthma attack and was unable to complete the qualification series.
Race 2 and Adam again hit the front with Ricky Tagg stalking him closely for the first half looking for a small mistake. Adam showed no weakness and eased away to a strong first place followed by Ricky, Mike and Rod Harris. Race 3 saw the same 4 fighting it out for the top spot, this time with Ricky leading home from a hard charging pack led by Mike Lennon, followed by Adam May and Rod Harris. Race 4 and again, Ricky led at the windward mark but it became obvious to the following pack that he was in trouble with a broken kicker. Adam was first to pounce on the second beat to take the lead. Rod and Mike also showed no mercy to take second and third places with Ricky just holding on to 4th from a rapidly closing Andrew Friend and Johnnie Hutchcroft.
Once ashore it became apparent that the time limit for finishing after the leader of 5 minutes was having a dramatic effect, with only the top 4 completing Race 2 and many timing out in other races. With the breeze forecast to drop and the tide increase the fleet elected to move straight to the final with the whole fleet, doing away with the semi-finals and taking out the time limit.
Going into the final each boat took their finishing position from the qualification round as a race score. Adam had a clear 1st place with Ricky, Rod and Mike on equal points and separated only on count back.
Off the line, Mike, Ricky and Adam moved out to the left and better pressure. Mike tacked at the windward mark and came off the foils; Ricky ducked behind tacked and came off the foils! Adam close behind, misjudged the lay-line and had to double tack losing valuable places and distance. Rod, having lost initially on the right side of the beat, came foiling into the mark and round the leaders, who were all trying to find wind and get foiling again, executed a great gybe to disappear into the lead. Tim Penfold followed close behind Rod and took the same track to round the gate close behind Mike Lennon, who after some energetic antics got foiling again. With most of the fleet stuck to the water, for the first part of the downwind, these three rapidly extended away.
During the next 2 laps, Rod sailed an imperious race foiling all the way round leaving Tim and Mike in his wake and these two also gained a significant margin over the rest of the fleet, leaving Tim to rue his unfortunate asthma attack earlier in the day. A combination of weed and holes in the breeze meant that places changed on every leg. An effective tactic employed by some was to capsize and clear the weed when they stopped foiling to enable them to take advantage of any minor increase in pressure to foil past others. Adam had worked his way back to 4th place nursing a broken kicker which hampered early foiling and Ricky, with a clear foil and pressure, flew down the final run to snatch 4th place from Adam with 10 metres to the finish line.
It was not clear to a number of the leaders who had won as people lost track of where their rivals were on the race track. The final results showed that the Holt Tide Ride winner was Rod Harris, counting 1 and 3 from the final and qualification series to round out a solid performance over the weekend. Mike, Ricky and Adam tied on 6 points each and with the finishing position in the qualification series used as the tie break this put Adam into 2nd overall followed by Ricky and Mike.
The fleet had a great series of races with lots of place changing, challenges and drama for all. Despite the conditions it was good to see such close racing and results up and down the fleet.
Pictures are available at www.photoblink.co.uk
1st Rod Harris, 4 pts
2nd Adam May, 6 pts
3rd Ricky Tagg, 6 pts
4th Mike Lennon, 6 pts
5th Andrew Friend, 12 pts
6th Tim Penfold, 12 pts