A combination of a high wind forecast and a late addition to the Moth calendar saw a smaller than usual turnout for the International Moth open at Royal Torbay Yacht Club on the 24th and 25th October. Not to be deterred by the forecast four travelling Moths from Queen Mary were joined by Mike Cooke who was keen to try out his new 2010 Ninja design and treated to some Champagne sailing over the weekend although someone had definitely shaken the bottle up.
Saturday’s start was delayed by an hour as the PRO waited for the conditions to moderate from the 29 knot gusts being recorded in the bay. Conditions eased slightly but with 25 knots still hitting the committee boat, the fleet launched. James Phare was an early casualty breaking his boom on the exit to the harbour, but the rest of the fleet made it safely to the start and the PRO started the racing promptly. The conditions however quickly took their toll and Doug Pybus retired after his mast came down. Mike Cooke was finding the new Ninja’s setup still needed some tweaking to cope with the extreme conditions and also decided to come back in.
This left Andrew Friend and Jonathan Peats battling the conditions as much as each other round the course. Andrew Friend took an early lead but after a number of capsizes by both boats it was Jonathan Peats who made it to the windward mark first. Further capsizes allowed Andrew Friend to take the lead by the leeward mark, and having battled round a single lap of the mile long course both boats were not too disappointed to find the PRO had decided that conditions had deteriorated too far and cancelled racing for the day.
Sunday greeted the fleet with near perfect foiling conditions of bright sunshine and a steady 18 knot breeze. Despite the clocks changing James Phare had an early start, driving halfway to Bristol and back to pick up a new boom, allowing all five boats to line up to launch. The first race saw Mike Cooke and Andrew Friend covering each other on the left of the course with Doug Pybus recovering from a poor start, heading inland which put him right back in contention. Mike Cooke and Andrew Friend both got knocked over by a big gust coming into the windward mark allowing Doug Pybus to round first and set off on the fast and exciting downwind leg. With the wind increasing significantly towards the bottom of the course conditions were back to being tricky and Mike Cooke with a much improved setup, overhauled Doug Pybus to take the lead by the leeward mark. Andrew Friend was still in touch in his Bladerider X8 and followed Mike Cooke closely up the next leg. With the wind gradually increasing all boats capsized a number of times and Andrew Friend managed to overhaul Mike Cooke on the next windward leg and then hold on to take the win.
Race 2 saw Doug Pybus retire early on with technical problems leaving Mike Cooke and Andrew Friend to have a close battle round the course with Jonathan Peats further back. Conditions worsened through the race and again it was the boat to capsize the least taking line honours with Andrew Friend just in front of Mike Cooke. Jonathan Peats followed about half a lap behind to finish third and record the fastest speed of the weekend with 25.0 knots recorded on the GPS in a big gust towards the bottom of the course.
With only three boats left and the wind still increasing, a decision to halt the racing was taken leaving Andrew Friend taking 1st place from Mike Cooke in 2nd, Jonathan Peats 3rd, Doug Pybus 4th. An unlucky James Phare was in 5th who had barely got out of the harbour before gear failure on both days.
Special thanks to Royal Torbay Yacht Club for putting on the open meeting at short notice and for the good race organisation in tricky conditions. Royal Torbay is a possible venue for the National Championships next year, and all who attended agreed it would be a fantastic event if it were held there.