It's more like Costa del Hayling at the moment – sweltering heat and little wind make it great for sunbathers and ice cream vans, but less so for the Moth fleet. The race committee made the most of the breeze that did come in and managed to get two races in for Yellow fleet and one for Blue fleet, bringing the Qualifying Series to a close after 5 races.
Sunday's Yellow fleet were sent out first to play catch-up and completed qualifying race 4 in around 10 knots with Chris Rashley blasting down the final run to overtake early leaders Mike Lennon and Paul Goodison.
Rashley said of his day, “Solid day – went out and raced the re-sailed race we didn't finish yesterday and ended up coming through to win. It was shifty offshore, but a reasonable 8-10 knots of pressure. I got past Mike by gybing at the final windward mark as we had a right shift and the pressure was running down the right hand side and sailed around Mike who went down through the middle. He wasn't to know the shift was coming when he rounded and it was very difficult conditions for him to defend in. If I hadn't gybed straight away I would have ended up 5th or 6th.”
On going into gold fleet racing Chris said, “You can't get much separation from the fleet and there are some really competent sailors out there who are going to put up a big fight in the finals. I think Rob Greenhalgh has got a very good chance of walking away with the trophy at the end of the week, so has Scott Babbage, Josh Mcknight and you can never write off Nathan Outteridge – he's the best dinghy sailor in the world and he will be up there at the end of the week.”
Then it was on to Monday's Yellow and Blue fleet racing. Australia's 49er Olympic gold medallist Nathan Outteridge took the win ahead of Britain's Robert Greenhalgh, halting Robert's run of wins.
Nathan said, “It was a good day – a lot of waiting around but we got a good race in and I finally got a bullet so happy with that. I haven't raced against Chris Rashley, or a lot of the other top guys, but I've raced Rob (Greenhalgh) every time and he's going pretty quick so it was nice to get one up on him today but I think there's about 6 or 7 boats that can probably win the event because the points are pretty close.”
Nathan continued on what's making the difference this year on boat speed, “I think people are just putting a lot of time into their boats and understanding their equipment. Obviously the guys over here have been sailing a lot at this venue, but of course we've had very different weather with light and flat conditions. I think for the finals it's only going to get lighter. I'm quite happy, I've got big foils and a stiff rig, like what I was using in Hawaii, and it's getting me through at the moment.”
Paul Goodison spoke to Louay Habib after the racing, “A big improvement today with a 3rd and a 4th. Yesterday I just kept sticking it in but after a lot of tweaking last night, the foiling was much better and the boat far more balanced. Today was a shifty day, which is a lot more towards my usual skill set of playing the shifts rather than just raw speed. However, racing a Moth in the light is all about keeping on the foil when others can't. When it's light it doesn't really matter if you choose the right or wrong side. If you are foiling you are going a lot quicker than the boats who can't.”
Further down the fleet there is some frustration about the time limits. Dave Chisholm, who is racing one of the home-build Moths said, “The problem is you've got guys with brand-new kit that are really good sailors; America's Cup sailors, Olympic sailors and World Champions, particularly in the marginal foiling conditions they're off. For the guys with the older kit who've come here for the craic of the whole thing and to support the event finishing within 15 minutes of the top guys is impossible, especially in these marginal conditions. I got lapped by the first windward mark today and I foiled most of the way. The guy with the oldest boat here has sailed in every race and he hasn't got a single result and they need to think about that. It is of course about the elite sailors that are here, but they need to think about those sailors who are further down the fleet.”
Tuesday sees the competition move up a notch as the fleet is split into Gold and Silver fleets. The leading competitors will be racing against each other head-to-head rather than topping their respective qualifying fleets.
At the end of qualifying, Greenhalgh and Rashley share the lead on 5 points, ahead of Australians Nathan Outteridge (8), Josh Mcknight (10) and Scott Babbage (11). Full results here.
The International Moth class is hugely grateful to the companies that are helping make this championship possible; Magic Marine, LV, Lennon Sails, CST Composites, Ronstan and Blueteq.
– Mark Jardine, YachtsandYachting.com
View Beau Outteridge's video interview with his brother Nathan: