Final Score: Polar Moths 18 : -5 Nasty Weather
The horrendous forecast did little to deter the rude health of the UK Moth class which held its season opener at Queen Mary Sailing Club last weekend. With only this and one other UK circuit event on the calendar before the Europeans in Sicily at the end of April the fleet were keen to put winter kit development, new purchases and on the water practise into race mode. However with wind chill plummeting the temperatures in to sub-zero figures the sailors were to do battle with the weather as much as each other but the moths, ably assisted by excellent race management from Martin and Joan Pride gave the opposition a complete trouncing.
Conspicuous by their absence were a few of the top seeds and Ben Paton who, due to a misunderstanding on Facebook decided not to make the journey after 2 time Olympic meddler Simon Hiscocks (who eventually walked away with this event) questioned whether – due to weather- the event was going ahead and that attendance could be poor; Using pre event social networking to your advantage is inspired gamesmanship indeed.
Saturday was very cold and the fleet launched in heavy wet snowfall and a gusty, shifty 10-15 knot N Easterly and on a promise by the race officer to target 25 min races and quick turnarounds. The local boys showed early promise being led by Doug Pybus in his modified long wheel base “Ninjocket” who with increased span between front and main foil (a prototype for Mike Cooke’s 2013 Rocket Design) was showing unbeatable upwind VMG but only average cornering. Alex Jazz Hands Koukourakis (Ninja) was also showing blistering pace right up to when his main foil snapped at the end of race 2 ending the Pink Member’s chances.
The race officer did not disappoint, 4 races were duly held, details of which are a bit of a blur due frost addled brains but Hiscocks in his new Mach2 had comfortably won 3 out of 4 and Pybus, Andrew Friend (Ninja), Tom Offer (Exocet), Dylan Fletcher (Ninja) and Gareth Davies (Exocet) were regularly changing places between spills. The exceptionally cold, fresh water meant that you had to be very cautious with ride height to avoid ventilation.
Sunday dawned colder, gustier (10-20+ knots) and it was snowing again. This time we were on the East side to avoid the club racing and match racing courses. With the N Easterly wind the only viable course the race officer could set meant that if you started on un-favoured Starboard tack you were heading straight for the spit which divides the two reservoirs or start on port and the wall loomed equally quickly. With the same obstacles in reverse as you neared the leeward mark downwind and some very punchy gusts it was seriously wacky racing with plenty of passing lanes as sailors pushed too hard and lost their grip. Results were similar to Saturday with Hiscocks totally dominant and a healthy scrap going on behind.
So yes it was unbearably cold but also a hugely successful event and thanks must go to QMSC and particularly the Race Officer for turning races around at a never-before-experienced rate (and only running 3 instead of 4 on Sunday) which made the whole thing bearable and also very enjoyable.