25 moth sailors travelled from 16 different clubs to Parkstone Yacht Club for the fourth Grand Prix event of 2015. The forecast for Saturday looked perfect with 12-16 knots and sunshine, but there were a few nervous faces in the boat park that morning when the breeze was up to 20 knots and was showing no signs of dropping all day.
The fleet headed out to the top triangle of Poole harbour where conditions were shifty and choppy and looked to be testing for most.
Chris Rashley took an early lead in race 1, with the next group of 5 boats all very close together. This remained a tight bunch, all with energy levels high at this early stage of the days racing, constantly keeping the pressure on one another to force the first mistake. The group of 5 then became 3 until a crash tack from Jason Belben on the starboard lay line left both Jason and Dan Ellis in the water, watching Dan Henderson scream away from them downwind at speeds of 26 knots plus. This gave him a bit of breathing space, until he took a swim himself on the final lap, which allowed the re-grouped bunch behind to all sail through, dropping Dan Henderson to 6th. Chris Rashley took a comfortable race win followed by Dan Ellis and Jason Belben in 3rd.
Race 2, and there is a new face on the start line as Ben Paton rocks up. The breeze has got up slightly and Ben Paton, being much fresher out of the boat park, shows he means business by taking the lead, but Rashley is closing him down. The two of them sail away from the fleet, but as they pass the fleet going up wind on opposite legs, the fleet almost stops to watch the dual. Rashley appears to have just taken the lead and lines up for a foiling tack, something we have all seen so many times on the “Chris Foiling Rashley” support page. Chris gets caught out by a sudden gust, drops off the foils and low rides a tack! The fleet amazed to see that Chris just completed a tack like one of them! Has he now become “Chris Foiling But Not All The Time Rashley?” Regardless, CFBNATTR took his second race win, Ben Paton 2nd and Jason Belben 3rd.
The breeze continues to build, now gusting 25 knots. A couple of sailors report on funny noises coming from their boats and even predictions that their kicker may break, so they headed for home. Chris Rashley notices his gearing arm on the foil linkage is beginning to fail, but estimates there is one lap of life still left in it. Again another early lead taken by Chris Rashley, but his thoughts were wrong, he manages 2 laps before the gearing arm completely sheers and leaves him as “Chris Not Foiling Rashley”. Jason Belben foils on past to take the race win with Dan Henderson close in pursuit and Dan Ellis just passing Jim McMillan on the final run to take 3rd.
If the day’s sailing wasn’t challenging enough, there was a boat agility course to navigate through on the run back down the channel of moorings to the club house. Once all ashore the sailors pulled together to assist each other with repairs required from the tough day on the water. It was then time to soak up the Parkstone Yacht Clubs hospitality and sunshine in the clubs beer garden, enjoying a fantastic BBQ with drinks and some live music.
The Moth class had their own inspector on the water on Saturday in the form of Rob Pike, who was checking for race course accuracy. He reported back that the race course was perfectly square. This came about when he was ejected from his boat at the windward mark and decided not to release his tiller, which resulted in a snapped tiller extension and a de-rigging of the boat in the water so he could be picked up and taken home by rib. In the time it took for him to pack away his sail and mast whilst in the water, he had drifted so far down wind that he end up drifting into the side of the committee boat. The chances of drifting from a windward mark, down a race course and then hitting the committee boat are slim, so thanks to PRO Graham Davies for the perfectly set courses.
Day 2 was certain to be a completely different type of day on the water with maximum 5 knots of breeze forecast. With 5-8 knots being recorded on the racecourse the fleet launched and race 4 soon got underway. With a few boats sailing figure of eights in the pre start to keep on the foils, when the race got under way 5 or 6 boats remained foiling and foiled out to the left, leaving the majority of the fleet back near the start. The wind then dropped further leaving no one even moving, let alone foiling, so the race was abandoned and the fleet headed back to the start line.
The breeze was coming through in small bands, and as another start got away this created a game of snakes and ladders as boats behind picked up on to the foils and sailed through low riding boats in front, to then have the same thing happen to them as the breeze filled in from the top of the course. Jason Belben followed by Neil Baker just held on to 1st and 2nd as they sailed off their foils through the finish line whilst anxiously watching the rest of the fleet come foiling down the course in a mad sprint to the finish.
Race 5 began with no one on the foils. There were 3 boats which started on port tack and got into enough pressure on the right hand side of the course to get foiling and pull quite a lead out on the fleet. Dan Ellis managed to avoid the right hand corner where Jim McMillan and Chris Rashley had come off their foils. After a fair bit of low riding Dan approached the windward mark with a comfortable lead. At which point the wind completely shut down, leaving Dan jumping from one wing to another just to keep the boat upright. A band of pressure could be seen coming down to the course, as it hit Dan, it loaded up his main, sent the boat into a 360 spin, and finished with a capsize, leaving him spinning and swimming. Jim McMillan made better use of the pressure and closed in on Dan, eventually foiling past Dan to take the race win, as Dan sailed off the foils through the finish in 2nd and Chris in 3rd.
This led to a tight finish overall, with Chris Rashley and Jason Belben being tied on 8 points with Jason losing out on count back and Dan Ellis 3rd.
So it was another Grand Prix open win for Chris Rashley, but only just this time, as we now approach the Nationals at Stokes Bay in under 3 weeks’ time, which is sure to be a great 4 day event on and off the water. If you have a Moth or interested in seeing some action packed racing, please come along and get involved between the 25th and 28th of June.
Full results: here
Photos (c) Mike Millard and Helen Forster.
Write-up courtesy of Dan Ellis