The 2009 Moth UK nationals and open championship was held at Saundersfoot SC, Wales from 10th to the 14th July. As usual for major Moth events, the fine weather leading up to the event changed abruptly to gales, torrential rain and steep waves – perfect foiling weather.
The fleet of 37 entries, all foilers, battled bravely with the conditions, working to improve foil control systems and technique as the event progressed. In the end we had a new national champion and four different designs in the first four places – all of which you can go out and buy ‘off the shelf’ tomorrow.
Race 1 was a windward-leeward sailed in 10 to 15 knots with a short one metre chop. The fleet made good progress upwind clear of the waves and nicely powered up. Downwind was another story with the lake sailors struggling with badly set up foils.
Adam May led at the windward mark but was passed down-wind by Mike’s Cooke and Lennon. Rod Harris also pushed through May but couldn’t make it stick up the second beat. Cookie eased away from Lennon while Rod had another nibble at May. They crossed the line a boat-length apart with May edging it.
The finishing order was Cookie, Mike Lennon, Adam May, Rod Harris, James Roche and Andrew Friend. It was pretty clear that those who had just returned from the Europeans in Denmark were sharper and better able to get on the pace and push down the tricky chop. Day one was cut short to one race from the scheduled three by a rain storm reducing visibility to half the beat.
On day two, 3 challenging races were held with a combination of big shifts big gusts and big waves, sometimes all at the same time, so no-one could ever consider their position safe. The fleet eyed the high tide surf with some reservation and a line of Mothies played launch chicken to see who would brave it first. It was possible to launch although at least two carbon masts were broken at this stage. Those that got out enjoyed a full speed run a mile to the committee boat. We blasted up and down for a while, until the race officer became sufficiently unnerved to send us home again (back through the surf).
The second attempt was early afternoon suspiciously after the start of the F1 GP. By this time the wind had increased to 25 knots and the race officer was presumably taking valium.
In race 2, 2008 champion Si Payne, who missed day one due to personal commitments, arrived in style to lead for the first lap, but unfortunately due to a minor failure under the bonnet of his prototype Mach 2 he had no height control and had to retire effectively ending his chance of retaining the title. This gave Mike Lennon the lead with Geoff Carveth second. A short course and six laps made the fleet dizzy but eventually Mike Cooke led across the line followed by Rod Harris, Ricky Tagg,and Mike Lennon fourth.
In race 3 Paul Hayden port tacked the fleet at the start but was so excited at the prospect of leading that he was unable to tack successfully and make it stick at the windward mark. Adam May built a small lead to take first, followed by Mike Lennon, Ricky Tagg, Rod Harris, Geoff Carveth, Paul Hayden and Cookie slipping to 9th after stopping for a drink at the first mark.
Race 4 saw a new winner, with Geoff Carveth taking his first Moth class bullet, having consistently improved all day, followed by Rod Harris, Mike Lennon, Adam May, Mike Cooke and Paul Hignett.
After four races the points tally was Mike Lennon, 11 pts; Rod Harris 12pts, Adam May 13pts, Mike Cooke 16pts, Geoff Carveth 24pts and in 6th, Paul Hayden, 35pts. Any of the top four could take the championship.
Day three was blown off, so the championship would be decided on the last two races on Tuesday.
Day 4, race 5 produced the biggest waves of the event but a more moderate 15 to 18 knots. Lennon, Cooke and May all arrived at the first windward mark within a boat length of each other. Lennon and May pitch-poled before the first gybe allowing Harris and Cooke to sail off up the next beat with a comfortable gap. Later in the race Cooke had a horror of a downwind leg suffering multiple capsizes dropping him back to 4th. May also put in a strong Come Dancing performance on the downwind legs to drop out of contention. The Judges awarded 9.8 for his Mambo though.
Paul Hignett although not in strong contention overall sailed a very skilled race without any major issues to take first from Rod Harris and Mike Lennon in 3rd. This tied Harris and Lennon going into the final race.
Race 6: Lennon was first at the top mark but also suffered the first pitch pole of the leading bunch allowing Harris, Cooke and Hignett through. Cooke pulled away making no errors to take the win and although Harris wobbled on the last run home Lennon was not close enough to capitalise.
For some time no one could work out who had won but it was revealed that Mike Cooke is the new national champion.
1st Mike Cooke 12pts (Aardvark Ninja)
2nd Rod Harris 13pts (Prowler Zero)
3rd Mike Lennon 14pts (Mach 2)
4th Paul Hignett 23pts (Bladerider)
5th Ricky Tagg 25 pts (Mach 2)
6th Geoff Carveth 26pts (Bladerider)
The fleet has welcomed many newcomers from other classes since the foiling revolution but the legendary Moth spirit lives on. Many competitors, friends and families mentioned that the atmosphere within the fleet is like one big family. Although we are racing each other there is great camaraderie amongst among Mothies with rivals fixing each others’ boats and rescuing fellow Mothies from the surf without a second thought.