14 intrepid Mothies ventured to Queen Mary Sailing Club’s gruelling ‘Bloody Mary’ dinghy pursuit race on the 12th January making the Moths the 6th largest fleet (and the largest high performance fleet). With 340 starters in total providing more ‘traffic’ than the nearby M25 it is the largest dinghy race in the UK and an annual classic. The forecast warned of the possibility of freezing easterlies of up to 27kn and possible sleet but the reality proved to be more amiable temperatures and an ideal 14-16kn with some pokey gusts mixed in.
After last year’s Mothwash where our daring pilots took the top 4 slots the handicappers attempted to bang us to rights with a whopping 6 minute delay to our start time, giving us 64 minutes to catch the fleet rather than the 70 minutes that we had in 2012. The knock on effect of this is that whilst last year maybe 50 boats had done a lap before we started this year that number was more like 80. That means the Moths didn’t have just 330 boats to overtake but more like 410. Even after accounting for some retirees that is still a boat every 10 seconds – sustained for over an hour!
We had less than 6 minutes in hand last year and I thought this would be enough to scupper our chances. Therefore my aim was to have enjoy the class race and to see how far we could get up the fleet, rather than hoping to get to the front. As it turned out conditions were very similarly ideal to lastyear; windy but not too windy, lots of reaching around the lake and flat water. We were also assisted by the breeze piping up a little in the later half of the race whilst we on the course.
Jason Belben led the MothCharge with Rob Greenhalgh in hot pursuit. The next group of Simon Hiscocks, Peter Barton and Andrew Friend had some great close racing and place changing for most of the race. After a whirlwind hour the Moths had cut through the traffic to hit the front. Jason took line honours but was later found to have missed a mark leaving Rob the victor, demonstrating what is possible after a dedicated 6 months in the class. Andrew Friend kept it tidy to take 2nd overall with Peter in 3rd overall. Not quite managing to untangle themselves from the melee of low riders wereSimon in 13th and Richard Westbury in 25th. (NB: on last year’s handicap Simon and Richard would have likely hit the front, c’est la vie!)
There have been no ground breaking innovations to Moth equipment and set up in the last year and any speed gain over the year is down to refinement of equipment, setup and technique. Some of the country’s best dinghy sailors are in the Moth class and putting in an incredible amount of dedication to perfecting their aeronautics so it is fair for the class to have a chance of winning when the conditions are ideal – which they were. The UK dinghy scene is unlikely to ever become bored of Moths dominating these events as those ideal conditions happen too infrequently. Hopefully, when we do turn up and perform we add value, inspiring others with our intriguing craft, enthusiasm and passion for our sport.
1st 3979 Robert Greenhalgh Stokes Bay SC / Hamble River SC
2nd 3892 Andrew Friend QMSC / Norfolk Punt Club
3rd 3795 Peter Barton Royal Lymington YC
13th Simon Hiscocks WPNSA / HISC
25th 3944 Richard Westbury Bartley SC
33rd 3335 Edward Redfearn Brightlingsea SC
44th 3614 Doug Pybus QMSC
118th 3870 Ollie Holden HISC
119th 3766 Alex Koukourakis Eastbourne Sovereign SC
182nd 3674 Neil Baker QMSC
251s t3711 Dan Ward Frensham Pond SC
DNF 3327 Ben Clegg Brightlingsea SC
DNF 3849 Leigh Albrecht QMSC
DSQ 3942 Jason Belben Stokes Bay SC