Friday, September 23, 2011

2011 Classic Moth Boat National Regatta: Elizabeth City, North Carolina

The weather forecasts leading up to this year's CMBA National Regatta were calling for cold, rainy weather with significant winds (20 to 30 MPH out of the NE). The various websites like and waffled back and forth right through the regatta weekend which was an indication of how unpredictable the movement of coastal low pressure area off of Cape Hatteras had become. The cold and wet part of the forecast held up, particularly on Saturday but although the gusts were stiff at times, the sustained winds hovered in the 10 to 12 MPH range on Saturday and less on Sunday. That said, the gusts were in the high teens and one needed to either pay attention or pay the price for electing to goof off.  Saturday morning offered grey but initially dry skies which was a good thing as we hoisted sails and launched boats.  Photos were taken by diaristwoman and where indicated by Lennie Parker.

Rigging up in John and Sarah Pugh's backyard.  The races are sailed in the Pasquotank River which flows through Elizabeth City.  As always, click on the photos to enlarge them.

Launching my Europe over the bulkhead.  The water level in the river was high which aided in getting the boats overboard.  The wind on the other hand was blowing straight across the river which made launching and retrieval mildly challenging.

The Saturday prediction of a 70% chance of precipitation proved correct so everybody geared up to face the rain and we launched boats about an hour before the 11 am first gun to familiarize ourselves to the conditions. As mentioned earlier, the gusts were a tad on the harsh side but overall the wind was manageable.

Joe Courter helps Patrick Burger launch his new boat.  The boat is patterned after the Mistral design but with Patrick's interpretation for the deck layout and sail shape controls.  This was the boat's first race and the gusty conditions soon revealed some teething problems.

A few seconds before the start of the first race.  Although the gusts were harsh and unpredictable, the sustained wind was in the 10 to 12 knot range which is perfect for Classic Moth Boats.  We only had 13 boats at this year's National Regatta in part due to the weather forecast which called for 20 to30 knots of wind.  Fortunately the forecast was a tad pessimistic and those of us who braved the trip were rewarded with good if a bit wet sailing conditions.

Both Bill Schill and Patrick Burger were casualties during the first race. Bill flipped and swamped, Patrick suffered a dismasting when a small bit of line on one of his stay adjusters broke and allowed the rig to collapse. Bill decided he'd had enough. Patrick was able to fix his boat but decided that the deck configuration he'd designed was not a good match for the conditions and bagged it for the day in the hopes that Sunday's conditions would be more forgiving. 

Bill Schill does a bit of synchronized swimming with his Duflos Moth.  Bill retired for the day.

The highlight of my regatta.  Although the camera shows me chasing Walt Collins, we were beyond the finish line by this point. This was the conclusion of the second race and I managed to just hold Walt off and get my bow across the line ahead of his.  For me it was all downhill after this!

Bill Schill helps Patrick with the latter's boat after a bit of line for the bow stay adjuster broke during the first race. Patrick and Bill were towed back to the dock at some point toward the end of race two.  Patrick was able to make the required repairs and resume racing on Sunday.  Later in the day, Mark Saunders was another casualty of Saturday's wind.  One of his stay stays broke and his rig collapsed.  Mark also was able to make repairs and return to the race course on Sunday.

Are we having fun yet?  Nearest to farthest from the camera: Mark Saunders (Mistral), Randall Swan (Skol), John Zseleczky (Mistral) sail down wind in a rain squall (or "liquid sunshine" as the Chamber of Commerce would call it).
Almost planing.  The gusts, like the rain, came and went sometimes without much warning.  Here your diarist, sailing his Europe, is windward of John Pugh's Mint design.
Downwind leg.  Oh Dear Oh Dear--I'm DFL in this picture!  I was having stop watch problems during the starts (the damn thing would stop randomly during the five minute count down) and as a result spent much of the day playing catch up.  After racing concluded for the day I hot footed it over to a near by "Wally World" store and purchased a cheap replacement watch.  The large green roofed building in the background is the new Museum of the Albemarle.  The MOA building dominates the downtown Elizabeth City skyline and to my eye is somewhat out of place.  I suppose I'll get used to it sooner or later.

Eventual overall winner (and defending champion) Jeff Linton sails past the camera with another E. City skyline icon, the town water tank, in the background.  Yes, the water tank has a Moth Boat painted on it's side.  Is this a great town or what?
Lining up for one of the starts on Sunday.  The rain had for the most part stopped but the skies were still dark.
Patrick returned to the race course on Sunday.  As can be seen here, his open deck configuration was ill suited to the blustery conditions which prevailed at this year's Nationals.  Patrick soon went back in and packed up his boat for the ride back to Florida.  No doubt when we see this boat again at next year's Mid-Winter Regatta she'll be sporting different decks.  Photo credit:  Lennie Parker.
An Ooh La La moment.  Even your diarist was not immune from a bit of drama!  A gust of wind hit my rig just after I'd rounded the leeward mark causing me to lose control of the main sheet.  Since I was fully hiked out, the boat tried hard to capsize to weather.  I managed to avoid flipping and clawed my way to the high side before things got ugly.  The best part is that I was able to get sorted out before losing any of the boats which were behind me.  This somewhat compromising exposure was taken by Lennie Parker.
Joe Courter leads John Pugh during a lull in the wind.  It almost looks pleasant doesn't it?!
However, as noted earlier, the wind was still quite frisky at times.  John Zseleczky leads Mike Parsons and Mark Saunders around the leeward mark.

After hauling the boats out of the water, trophies were awarded by CMBA President Greg Duncan.  Greg raced the first three races but had to take over race committee duties when the principle race officer became ill.  The rest of us who raced owe Greg a beer at the next regatta.

Once again this blogspot is getting wonky so you'll have to wait for a separate post for further photos from this event.

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