Enzo Ferrari once said that “aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines” but with the International Moth, a boat limited to a sail area of only 8 square meters, they do become important, very important, and the latest designs are as miniscule as his racing cars and just as sexy.
The new McDougall designed and McConaghy built Mach 2 swept the board at the recent Moth European Championships in Horsens, Denmark with a two way shoot out between the defending champion Arnaud Psarofaghis from Switzerland and ex World Champion Simon Payne of Great Britain.
46 Foiler Moths raced on Horsens Fjord, with many sailors arriving there early to practice for the anticipated light to medium northerly sea breeze. The event was the first big event in the calendar year and many saw it as an ideal warm up for the much publicised World Championships in August at Cascade Locks (The Gorge), Portland Oregon.
Yet on race day 1 the breeze came to town and immediate drama with Psarofaghis breaking a shroud as he sailed away from the ramp. The Swiss team pulled him out, fixed the boat and had him back out but more trouble up front meant that race was over for him. Payne was handed a win.
Psarofaghis was out for the second race but Payne won again. In the third the Swiss made no mistakes as the breeze built.
On shore some of the older boats had suffered badly and “Camp Epoxy” was at full stretch that night.
Conditions the next day made just exiting the narrow channel difficult. Getting to the race course was harder still and the waves were big. Upwind this is fine, as the Moth, high out of the water on its foils, takes them in its stride. Downwind though the foil can break out and probably would work in air but would have to be going about 100 miles faster. Only the latest control systems are capable of handling these conditions and Eelco Boers of Holland and Jean-Pierre Ziegert of Switzerland were in the running at the windward mark. Downwind speed comes easily in Moths but corners are for fast moth sailors and Payne and Psarofaghis streaked into a legs lead. After half an hour at 20 knots Psarofaghis won on a photo finish and the Race Officer, with his rescue boats at full stretch wisely sent the fleet home.
The next day was the final day, and the race for 3rd, 4th and 5th place was just as hot. GBR's Mike Lennon, Rod Harris (who had held second place for a while before the discard kicked in) and Mike Cooke were all close on points and improving all the time and Eelco Boers needed to watch the rapidly improving Jean-Pierre Ziegert.
Psarofaghis won the 1st race of the day, Payne the next two and behind Eelco Boers was making 3rd place over all his.
The final race and all to play for. Lennon was first to the mark, then Psarofaghis, then Ziegert, then Payne.. At the bottom of the course Payne was up to second, Psarofaghis lead. Payne moved into the lead on the next run but on the beat that followed with the breeze up, he tacked on Psarofaghis and just didn't have the horsepower to keep the heavier Swiss sailor there. Psarofaghis won.
Psarofaghis and Payne tied on points, they tied on the number of first and they tied on the number of seconds after discard. Psarofaghis, with the win in the last race, retained his title.
The Moth class continues to go from strength to strength. Sailors of all abilities are have the time of their lives. Life may begin at 40 but it's also pretty good at 25 knots.