Life begins at 30 (knots!)

30 has replaced 20. For the UK Moth fleet at least. A few years ago it was a coveted honour to qualify for the 20 knot club. Now it is something you do straight off the slipway whilst tidying your controls. The Class 20kn club webpage has long since been disbanded.

The new focus was the big 30 and the UK fleet have been chasing this record all year, with a large number of sailors recording over 27kn since summer 2010. In the twilight of this season the elusive barrier was finally broken, almost by accident, in Lymington on the 27th November with a sizzling 30.61kn by Peter Barton. Here is Peter’s account….

At 8.20am I was resigned to no sailing as the Lymington weather station was recording gusts up to 44kn. However, by 9.10am it was clear that the front and passed and the race was back on to make the 10.30am race start.

Breaking the 30kn barrier was not on my mind as the conditions appeared less than ideal. The sea had a small confused chop near the entrance to the Lymington River. The water was a cool 12’C and salty, both of which the techies say isn’t good for top speeds. With a cross-offshore breeze the gusts were particularly pronounced, perhaps this was a case of blast power being more key than refinement. I was racing, there was no dress rehearsal or repeated runs. There was one shot only and the focus was reaching the leeward mark, not a top speed.

I had been watching the speedo at around 27kn during the run up and then a pointy gust hit, I committed to it. Shoulders back, sheet in, cant the boat to windward, clench and bear away. A white knuckle grip on the tiller avoids it from being tugged from the hand if the foil tip snags seaweed. I felt a pronounced acceleration, whist I have done quite a few 27s in the past but I knew this was faster.

My first experience of 30kn is that I felt very reliant on the control systems looking after me over the small chop. I am not sure I could have reacted fast enough to save it myself, whereas at say 22kn I might. The difficulty here is that slightly different foil control settings may be required at 30kn than at 24kn, due to he speed of water over the foils. However, you don’t really want to be re-tuning  after that gust hits as it could distract, unbalance and already be too late! Moments earlier on this leg I had ‘bottled it’ as I reached 26kn and shortened my magic wand another 5cm, thereby reducing flying height and increasing gearing. Both of these might assist survival at the expense of speed, but then it is not much fun breaking through the 30kn barrier if when doing so your lifting foils also become airborne!  The plot thickens, maybe I will become more used to it one day….

I am both honoured to be the founder member of the UK International Moth 30kn Club. I shall begin drawing up a suitably unique constitution and the bar is fully stocked. All I need now is some more members!

Equipment: Mach2 Moth, KA 13.2 Sail, small rudder foil & customised main foil both race finished by Maguire. 77kg lard.
Location: Western Solent, very near the RLymYC platform. During racing.
Wind: Max Gust 27kn, Average 19kn. WNW. (over the 10 minute period) Conveniently, the record was set 50m from the Lymi weather station
Sea state: Small confused chop, 12’C water temp, salty.
Current: Slack high water.

30.61kn over 2secs was identified later on the downloaded GPS track

Velocitek Speed Puck GPS recorded a speed over 30kn for 4s (the 30.61kn and 30.31kn below are adjacent). The accuracy is to 0.2kn.
The computer download identified the following;
2 second run n°1 = 56.7km/h [30.61Knots] (31.5 m. in 2.0 s.)
2 second run n°2 = 56.13km/h [30.31Knots] (31.2 m. in 2.0 s.)
10 second run n°1 = 52.01km/h [28.08Knots] (144.5 m. in 10.0 s.)
10 second run n°2 = 50.73km/h [27.39Knots] (140.9 m. in 10.0 s.)

These speeds are;
*A criminal offence when driving through a built up area
*50% faster than Usain Bolt
*Similar to the AC45’s speeds during their windy speed trial in Plymouth

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