International Moth World Champs – Day 3

It took a very early start, but racing is finally underway at the Wetsuit Outlet and Zhik International Moth World Championship! Sailors were already busy in the dinghy park at 6am, getting ready for an 8am start, with Yellow fleet the first to hit the water.

A cracking North Easterly breeze of around 15 knots meant the Moths were hitting the high notes as they blitzed around Portland Harbour ahead of racing, with the spray shining in the early morning sunshine.

Race Officer David Campbell-James knew there could be no hanging around, as the wind was set to drop, and he must have been relieved when the sailors played their part and he could signal clean starts in all three races held. As predicted the wind steadily dropped, until it was lowriding conditions in the third race of the morning, which was the first for Blue fleet.

Moth Worlds Day 3 credit Mark Jardine / IMCAUK
Moth Worlds Day 3 credit Mark Jardine / IMCAUK

Australian Olympic gold medallist Tom Burton started strongly in Yellow fleet, winning the opening race by a comfortable margin, but followed this up with a 14th in the second race, after adhering too much to the course rather than the conditions as the wind dropped:

“It’s good to get one under the belt, I guess. Just disappointing it’s not a great first day. I’m expecting that there’s gonna be a lot of high scores, if we’re going to race in what we did today. In the second race it was just disappointing; I was in a good spot to make it a keeper, and then just kind of raced too ‘racey’ and not basic enough for the marginal foiling conditions. So, my own fault really – that’s why I’m most frustrated.

“I was on the biggest gear I have, for the lightest wind. I tacked when I thought I was close to the layline. I thought, ‘worst case, I just tack at the top again and go the other way,’ but I didn’t really factor in that maybe there’s no wind at the top, and getting a tack in there’s going to be difficult! So I just raced too ‘racey’ really and should have just over-laid by 100 metres like most people, and just reached in and gybed around at the top. It’s a rookie error really, so it shouldn’t happen – just frustrating.”

At the top of the leaderboard, thanks to winning Yellow fleet race 2, is French four-time Olympian and reigning ILCA 7 World Champion Jean-Baptiste Bernaz, who was relieved to finally get out on the water:

“It’s great to get sailing. In my group we raced early in the morning, and I had two great starts, with two splashdowns also, but it was enough to win my first World Championship race in this class, so I was pretty happy.”

On the regatta itself, with the difficulties around the light wind, Jean-Baptiste is using his vast experience of major events:

“Some regattas you can ‘miss’ some races when you have a joker [discard] but this one is a bit tricky as you don’t have any racing for two days, and then you have to jump back onto it in your first race. I need to keep focused and stay consistent.”

British sailor Jack Wetherell was another sailor to have a consistent morning, posting 2,4 results to be on equal points with leader Jean-Baptiste. As he explained, he was extremely happy to post two ‘keepers’, especially when the conditions became more marginal:

“I’m very happy to survive the day! There was very variable breeze out there. It would have been very easy to come away with a big score that might not necessarily have been your fault. 100% it is

‘head out the boat’ time. For me, I started racing the breeze, and didn’t give any consideration to other boats. I was just looking for breeze that I could guarantee I could foil in. That was the only consideration really!”

Argentinian sailor Mario Segers was sailing well with two results in the teens, but lost a few places in the second Yellow fleet race of the day:

“I dropped off the foils in the second race at the windward mark; it was looking like a good opportunity to be top ten Moth. Annoying! A gust came and I could take off pretty easy so it was not that bad.”

On the frustration of falling into a wind hole Mario added:

“The worst part is when you drop off and you see other people just start to go downwind and fast, and you know that you will not get an opportunity to catch them. Nothing! You just have to concentrate in the next gust and hope to take off as early as you can.”

In Blue fleet’s one and only race of the day, young Kiwi sailor Jacob Pye took the win, lowriding into the finish line when the wind died, which was a stressful moment for him:

“That finish was extremely tense for me! I really didn’t know what was going to happen. There were boats coming in from behind me, and I didn’t know if they were going to overtake me or not. It was super light and they fell off the foils, and I managed to pip it before them.”

When asked whether he’d practiced lowriding at all, just in case he had to during a race, Jacob was very open in his reply:

“If I’m brutally honest, I haven’t practised lowriding. I think that when I’m in a race I’m going to be on the foils! It’s something you don’t expect every day, especially at the Worlds. I was just focussing on making the boat go fast – I really wanted to make it through the finish – I was so focussed on that line!”

Just behind Jacob was German Olympian Philipp Buhl who was very happy to come back through the fleet to take second place:

“Very pleased! I think I was around 10th to 15th in the first half of the first lap, then I got lucky to fly through the first gate, when eight boats in front of me couldn’t. That was a good gain.

“Basically, you needed a gust. Obviously foil choice matters, but everybody knew it was going to be a big foil morning. Apart from that, finding the gusts, connecting the gusts, you needed the ability to get your head out of the boat, and go where the wind is. On one downwind I was almost about to fall down, but just didn’t. “

The USA’s Richard Didham finished 11th in his Blue fleet race, but wasn’t as lucky when it came to navigating the light patches:

“Specifically, there was this massive hole right at the windward gate. I think only one person made it through that gate on the first lap without falling off the foils. I saw it was getting light there, but I didn’t quite judge it correctly, and fell off the foils on the wrong side of the gate. Then I got passed by a bunch of boats who saw a group of us not foiling at the bottom, so they overstood the gate on full foils. So I went from about fourth to 20th. I passed a few boats on the second lap, but it’s still kinda frustrating.”

After Blue fleet’s race the sailors were sent ashore under postponement in the hope that the wind would fill in again from the south-west. Once again it flattered to deceive, every so often raising the sailors’ hopes, only to die away shortly after.

It will be another 8am start for the fleet on Thursday, trying to make the most of any breeze that shows up in event which has so far been plagued by light wind.

Cick here for Results

Author Mark Jardine / IMCAUK

Moth Worlds Day 3 credit Mark Jardine / IMCAUK
Moth Worlds Day 3 credit Mark Jardine / IMCAUK
Moth Worlds Day 3 credit Mark Jardine / IMCAUK
Moth Worlds Day 3 credit Mark Jardine / IMCAUK
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