Stokes Bay provided what is surely one of the most memorable Moth National Championships and certainly a talking point for many years to come. With conditions ranging from 25knots and big confusing sea state to shifty marginal winds against a strong tide, many of the competitors were pushed to new levels in trying to adapt.
The man who managed to adapt best and put together an excellent regatta was ex Olympian, ex Moth National Champion and newly crowned 2011 National Champion Jason Belben.
After day one, Jason led with 2,1,1 posted on the scoreboard. Swiss superstar Arnaud Psarofaghis followed closely in 2nd with Chris Rashley lying in an impressive 3rd.
The conditions were brutal enough to mean that only 31 boats from the fleet of 57 finished all three races.
Amongst those, all of the usual suspects of Simon Payne, Mike Lennon, Richard Lovering, Ricky Tagg, Peter Barton, Tom Offer and Jason Russell were finishing in the top ten.
Paul Hignett who made the trip down from scotland to race his Ninja design put in a solid performance with 20,11,13 to keep him just inside the top 15.
Day two and the racecourse was un-sailable with winds peaking around 35 knots and directly onshore. Race officer Mike Rayden wisely decided to abandon racing for the day with the intention of running 4 races back to back on saturday and 4 on sunday to make up the series.
Saturday became the turning point of the event with winds again in the early 20s and a very confused sea state that saw carnage at the windward mark. As the leaders rounded, many following found themselves unable to bear off for the downwind leg and most of the top 15 pitchpoled around he spacer mark providing a minefield to negotiate as well as the difficult swell and chop.
Once on to port and heading inshore, the course levelled out and on lap two, many played safe and gybed almost immediately past the top mark to adopt this tactic.
Arnaud revelled in the conditions and scored two bullets with Jason Belben scoring 2 and 4 still keeping him in contention for the top spot.
Simon Payne found his form again and produced a 3,2 on the board to bring him back in to the leading pack, overtaking Chris Rashley who having suffered from a stomach bug only managed a 9,10.
After two races it was decided to abandon racing for the day with so many broken boats and sailors.
Sunday and final race day, the competitors were greeted with a flat Stokes Bay and a gentle 8 knots on the course which would present a completely different set of challenges to the sailors.
This would be where tactics, flawless boat handling and equipment would decide the winner.
Having recovered from the previous day’s illness, Chris Rashley took the first win and suddenly looked very strong. Jason followed closely in second clearly enjoying the lighter conditions with Mike Lennon in 3rd and Arnaud with an uncharacteristic 9th.
Race 2 then saw Hyde Sails Mike Lennon leave everyone behind with a solid win followed by Chris and then Arnaud. Jason finished fifth leaving no room for error going in to the last two races.
Mike Lennon was quick off the line again and secured another victory to bring him back in to the top 5 overall with Chris again sailing an excellent race to finish 2nd and Arnaud in 3rd.
The final race was won convincingly by Jason and again, Chris finished off with a 2nd place and Mike Lennon 3rd.
So after many years of Simon Payne (Mach 2) dominating, Jason Belben is crowned National Champion (Aardvark Ninja) using the latest iteration of Ellway foils.
Special mention must go to Chris Rashley (Royal London Yacht Club) for coming 3rd (2nd Brit) in his first ever Moth National Championship who first set foot in a foiling moth in December 2010 just over six months ago!
Thank you to Zhik as main event sponsor for providing such an incredible event and great prizes, Torq energy drinks, Marlow Ropes, SP Systems, Maguire boats, Hyde Sails, Harken, BlueTeq and anyone else we may have missed!
Thank you also to Stokes Bay sailing club and the race team for an excellent event and their generous hospitality and patience with having the dinghy park overrun with moths, carbon fibre and trailers!
Overall Results: (top ten)
1st Jason Belben (Stokes Bay SC)
2nd Arnaud Psarofaghis (Switzerland)
3rd Chris Rashley (Royal London Yacht Club/ Stokes Bay SC)
4th Simon Payne (Hayling Island SC)
5th Mike Lennon (Hayling Island SC)
6th Richard Lovering (Hayling Island SC)
7th Ricky Tagg (Hayling Island)
8th Pete Barton (Lymington Town SC)
9th Tom Offer (Rock SC)
10th Jason Russell (Hayling Island SC)
Full Results are here