Friday, May 27, 2011

"Camping" aboard Fend la bise

Louis Pillon, the mainstay of the French Association des Moth Classiques :  has sent me some very interesting photos of a “camping” Moth Boat which he has recently acquired.  Those of us who were racing here in the states back in the 1960s had heard rumors of the French Camping Moth but had never seen one.  In those times the French Mothists were quite innovative and many designs like the Duflos are still boats to beat in current Classic Moth racing.  It turns out that a very few, probably no more than ten, of the Camping Moths were made and, of that number, the one which Louis owns is perhaps the only survivor.  Designed and built by Parra, the Camping Moth weighs in at a hefty 120kg (~264 lb in old money)—which for a Moth Boat is substantial!   By comparison, the minimum hull weight for a CMBA approved racer is 75 lb.  Ah, but the Camping Moth more than makes up in civility what it lacks in speed.  No doubt in the “grand salon” there’s room for a bar and perhaps a small piano for aperitifs and après race relaxation.  No one beats the French in terms of refinement!

Louis:  Merci for sharing!  Photo credits: Pascale Guittonneau; the small advertisement is from the January 1961 issue of the French boating magazine” Bateaux”. 

The original ad for Moth Bearnais De Camping. This is from the culture which gave us fine wine, Brigitte Bardot and pain au chocolat.  Ad source:  Bateaux, Janvier 1961.
Fend la bise can be translated to "cleave the wind". In France, la bise is a strong wind from the north.
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and Fend la bise! Look at that bow wave!
I love the wooden spars but wonder why, given the French love of free standing masts, that this boat sports a stayed rig?  Perhaps Louis will explain it to me some day.  Louis promises to send some photos of the interior so we can view the accommodations.  Sleeping on either side of the centerboard trunk in this Camping Moth no doubt assumes very trim and sleek crew members!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Wood Boat Regatta

Classic Moths were the largest fleet at the Wooden Boat Magazine's "Wood Regatta" hosted by the Rock Hall YC this past weekend. Seven Moth Boats, all different designs competed. Erik sailed GYPSY while I sailed MINT (see my earlier post about MINT). There were a number of very pretty and interesting boats that came from far and wide.  We raced a total of 10 races over the two days. Yes, I could feel it in my legs the following Monday morning!

Saturday's wind was from the NW and, as expected, was light and variable. We had a nice 5 or so knots for the first race and I got a good start in MINT and led that race almost from start to finish. John Zseleczky, sailing his Mistral design Moth, Y2K BUG, was able to reel me in half way down the final beat to the finish and won comfortably by several boat lengths. It was fun seeing the bow of Y2K BUG for a change even if I couldn't quite close the deal!  And, although a bit out classed by newer, faster designs, MINT still showed that she has the legs of a Champion. After the first race the wind went soft and we thought that the rest of the day would be a float fest but after a slow second race, where Moths overhauled the "Corinthian" Class (big heavier boats) and got stuck in their huge sail shadows, the wind clicked on enough for the remaining 3 races to be fair contests before dying just in time to make sailing back to the beach (~2 miles or so) a slow process. Moths could routinely reel in most if not all of the bigger boats that started in front of us, a situation that repeated itself the following day when we had more breeze. At the end of Saturday's racing John Z. had 5 firsts, Erik led Victor Stango by 2 points and I trailed Victor by 3.

Sunday's wind clocked around to the E and was blowing around 10 to 12 with gusts a tad higher. Rock Hall YC sails in a cove off of the Chester River called Langford Bay which, while protected from the river's current, is fairly shallow. As a result, East winds tend to kick up a short, nasty chop. The combo of a good breeze and stiff chop made for some challenging sailing. At the start of the first heat both Erik and Victor Stango (sailing his Lindenberg design) were over the line early. Erik tacked back to restart but Victor had an unexpected swim when he hit the front side of a wave and the head stay fitting pulled out of the stem. The rig went to leeward and Victor was tossed out of the boat to windward. As I sailed past he said he was OK. The dismasting was a shame because Victor and Erik were locked in a tight battle for second and the breeze seemed to favor the Lindenberg over the Europe. As a result Erik cruised to an easy 2nd overall, behind John (who had perfect bullets) and I managed to round out the podium. As a final note, I decided to not race the last race of the day because I had noticed that MINT's wooden mast was bending in an alarming fashion if a gust of wind hit the rig at the same time the boat was knifing through the chop. I hated to leave the festivities with such a nice breeze but I didn't want to burden the RC with a second dismasted MOTH. As I sailed back to the beach on an absolutely wonderful screaming reach I noticed that the tiller felt odd. Looking back I realized that the nuts for the machine screws that hold the tiller to the top of the rudder had slackened off, so I was doubly glad I'd decided to skip the last race even though it cost me maximum points!

At the awards presentation, Carl Carmer, the organizer from Wooden Boat Magazine Praised the Moths as "inspirational". I'm not quite sure what that means but it sounds good! Trophies were not handed out at the club. Carl indicated winners would get engraved trophies by mail.

So, bottom line on ex-world Champion MINT:  she's off the pace of the newer designs but I expected that. Twenty extra years of development does not defy one's expectations, the newer designs are faster.  However, she did exhibit moments of great boat speed.  Like any boat which hasn't been raced for an extended period of time she has plenty of areas that need refinement.  However 3rd place overall and almost winning the first heat count for something, plus I now have a good idea of what changes to make prior to the next time I race her.  For now I leave you with some images of  a few of the other wood boats which were part of the regatta.  More photos can be seen here:…oat%20Regatta/
and here: 
Comments from the organizer can be read here:
This custom design came up from Florida
Another view of HAIKU.
Several Windmill class dinghies competed.   The Windmill was designed by Clark Mills in 1953 as a follow up to his more famous Optimist dinghy.
The Windmill is quite narrow for its length.
A nice detail carving inside the transom.
A study in Moth Boat designs.  From closest to the camera to furthest away:  Shelley, Cates, Tweezer, Lindenberg
Dudley Dix came up from Norfolk, VA with PAPER JET.  This complex boat is sailed by one person!  PAPER JET was the subject of an article in Wooden Boat Magazine a few years ago.  Fifty or so of this design have been built to date.
PAPER JET, stern view.  Lots of strings to pull and keep track of...
Victor Stango's Paul Lindenberg-designed Moth Boat.  Sadly this boat was dismasted early during the Sunday racing.
Jim Cobb's Wayfarer dinghy (white hull) beached next to Ed Sadler's Hampton One-Design.  Jim usually sails a Moth but deserted us this weekend for his Wayfarer.  Click on the photo for a better look at the beautiful Chris-Craft mahogany runabout in the background.  The Chris-Craft was the mark boat and crash boat for our race course.  Also note the radio controlled scale model Lasers that had their own racing fan base.
Another look at this pair of boats with a better view of the Hampton OD.  A lovely boat but I'll bet that cockpit combing is a leg biter...
Tom  Lippincott borrowed a family member's Duster for the weekend.  Dusters were a popular dinghy in southern New Jersey when I was just starting to race back in the late 1950s and many were built by the Lippincotts.  Like the Moth, the Duster died off.  Unlike the Moth the Duster hasn't yet mounted a successful rebirth.  Duster racing is currently confined to a single lake in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  I hadn't seen one in over 40 years.  Dusters carry a fair bit of sail for their size and thus are a brutal boat in stiff wind but quite fast in the right hands.  Tom came in second in the "Corinthian" Class.
The winning Moth Boat, Y2K BUG, is a Mistral design Moth.  This photo reveals the large amount of rocker in this design's keel line.  This greatly reduces the wetted surface when the boat is sailed in displacement mode.  Note the almost semi-circular transom shape.  Mistrals are quite challenging to sail, especially downwind in a big breeze.
A final look at the Rock Hall YC's mooring field complete with radio controlled mini-racers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

MINT, Nr 1335

Next weekend Rock Hall Yacht Club will host the Wooden Boat Magazine's "Wood Regatta".  This regatta is open to just about any small sailing dinghy, provided the boat is constructed from wood.  Team Albaugh will be taking our wood Europe design Moth (GYPSY) and also a Moth named MINT.  MINT was designed and built by Bill Lee down in Miami, Florida over the winter of 1953.  Bill had started building Moths in the late 1940s after getting out of the service at the end of the war.  His Moth designs became ever faster with each successive boat but he couldn't quite break through to the winner's circle.  By 1952 he was on the verge of getting out of Moth racing.  He changed his mind when he read in the newspaper that fellow Miami Moth sailor Lewis Twitchell had won the World Moth Boat Championship in 1953 up at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club.  Bill realized that Twitchell's win would move the next World Championship regatta to Miami YC, Twitchell's home club.  With that in mind Bill decided to make one more attempt at designing a winner.  He didn't have a shop to build his boat in so he build MINT in the bedroom of the small house he then owned.  He later allowed as how that probably contributed to his divorce but, never the less, the boat was completed in time for the 1954 World Championship.  Although Bill didn't win the Worlds in 1954, MINT, with Bill at the helm, did place in the top five.  Bill raced MINT for a couple more years and then sold the boat to an up and coming new sailor named Ken Klare.  With Ken in the hot seat MINT finally showed her potential and won the World Champion in 1958 and again in 1959.  In 1960 the Worlds were held in France and Ken couldn't afford to ship MINT overseas.  Instead he raced the boat at the Nationals and won against stiff local competition.  Ken then sold the boat in order to raise money to attend college.  MINT malingered in the hands of mediocre racers for a few seasons and was next bought by Mac Allen.  Mac was a hot Comet class racer and remembered from previous regattas that MINT was a fast Moth.  It happened that Mac Allen's club, the Little Egg Yacht Club in Beach Haven, NJ was going to host the 1964 North American Moth Championship.  Mac put aside his Comet and entered MINT in his first and only Moth Regatta and won.  Afterwards, Mac put the Moth into storage and went back to racing Comets.  MINT disappeared and it took me an age to track Mac Allen down.  He was living in Florida in the winter and in Vermont during the summer.  MINT was stored in a barn on his farm in Vermont.  In 1992 Mac gave me the boat.  At that point MINT, although in an unmolested time capsule state, needed a deck-off restoration.  Not being a particularly good craftsman I enlisted the  help of Merv Wescoat and Don La Rosee to redeck MINT during the following winter while I repaired cracks in the hull and refinished the boat.  In the meantime I managed to track down Bill Lee who had retired from working at the Challenger Marine Corporation and moved from Miami to Key Largo.  About that time we had just started holding a Mid-Winter Classic Moth Regatta at St. Petersburg, Florida and I loaned MINT back to Bill Lee in the hopes that he would come race with us.  Although he did sail the boat occasionally, after a couple years Bill told me that he was too old to race anymore and to come get the boat.  While MINT was back in his shop Bill replaced the transom and built a new boom.  There's nothing quite like having the original designer/artist/builder be a part of the restoration of a beautiful boat!  I visited Bill several more times after retrieving MINT from his shop.  Before he passed away Bill gave me the scale half model that he'd carved while designing the boat back in '53 and also his fifth place trophy from the 1954 World Championship Regatta. Since completion of her restoration MINT has been in resting, like fine wine, in my boat house waiting for an appropriate event to enter.  I've decided that the Wood Regatta is that event.

MINT under going test rigging in the backyard.  The sail is one of Erik's and hence has the wrong number.  I'll eventually order a new sail for the boat.

This view shows the easy sweep of the shear line.  Back in the 1950s Bill Lee's boats were called "Banana Boats" due to this feature.  Bill built four boats to this design.  The well known boat builder, Harry Cates built one more named TOP BANANA, and I think Charlie Fuller built one while Harry had the building molds on loan from Bill (see my earlier entry about Charlie Fuller's boat posted on 14 April 2011).

A bow shot. showing the elegant lines.  A true thoroughbred.  Time and newer designs have passed MINT by and she will not be the faster Moth at Rock Hall next weekend.  However she will be one of the prettiest. 

Old timey bronze hardware.  No delrin plastic here!
The cockpit.  Early boats had a loop like this to stick a toe under as an aid in hiking out.  Newer Moths have hiking straps instead to help the skipper get his weight out to windward to counter a gust of wind.  I need to put some non-skid tape on those slippery looking floorboards.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Opening Day at Rock Hall YC.

Today was the Rock Hall Yacht Club's Opening Day Regatta.  Invited classes were Classic Moths, Lasers, Laser Radials, and Windmills.  The forecast called for temps in the upper 60s, sunny skies and perhaps 9 to 10 knots of breeze out of the Northwest.  Originally we were supposed to have six Moths racing but two withdrew at the last minute.  No matter.  Four boats got us a separate start so life was good!  Rock Hall is roughly 2 hours by car from my home so with boat to rig and a skipper's meeting scheduled for 9:30 an early departure was called for.  I was on the road at 6:30 am.

Rock Hall Yacht Club is down the Chester River from Chestertown, Maryland.  The setting is very pleasant and very rural.  Getting to the club entails a drive down narrow roads which thankfully are mostly empty early on a May Saturday morning.
The first order of business after arriving is to off load boats from trailers and roof racks and rig up.  Fellow racers Bill and Shane Boyle are in the background getting their boats ready.  We launched boats at a small beach at the extreme right side of this photo.

The early morning breeze was reasonably steady but the race committee decided to take us a mile or so out into the bay in order to avoid wind shadows from trees along the shore.  We were scheduled to run five races but completed only two.  Moths started the third race but the wind died completely before we made the weather mark and with that, racing was abandoned for the day.  But, since one completed race constitutes a regatta, the race committee was happy even though the competitors wished for more.  It took quite a while to sail back to the club.

John Zseleczky took a well deserved 1st place in the Moth Class.  We chased his transom all day long.

Your diarist took 2nd place.

The back side of the engraved tumblers had a representation of the type of boat for each class racing.  The Moth depicted on my trophy is a design from perhaps the 1940s.  Rock Hall YC has a tradition for the trophy winners at the Opening Day Regatta--they get to have their trophies filled with their favorite tipple at the club bar on the house!  I asked that mine be filled to the rim with Mount Gay rum on the rocks.  A most satisfactory way to close out an abbreviated day of racing!

After the trophy presentation the club had their annual flag raising ceremony to mark the start of the new season, complete with firing a small starting cannon.  The cannon's report inspired every farmyard dog for miles around to bark in appreciation.  With that, John and I packed up our boats and headed home.  I arrived back in time to watch "Animal Kingdom" win the Kentucky Derby.  A good day out! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Browns Mills Yacht Club Trophy Presentation Night, 1946.

Ed Silvers currently lives in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.  Ed grew up in Browns Mills, New Jersey but in 1981 sailed to the BVI and never left.  As a boy Ed sailed Moth Boats and the other day he emailed me the old photo below.  This picture dates to 1946, the same year in which I was born.  However since the photo was taken at the end of the summer sailing season and my birthday is in late December it pre-dates your diarist.  Having said that I have met two of the people in this picture and own a boat which was at one time the prized  possession of one of the members posing for this group shot.

As most viewers of this blog spot have no doubt come to appreciate, your diarist loves an old photograph, particularly if a story can be pried out of it.  In the front row, extreme left we have Jon Bachelor a Moth Boat sailor who went on to the Naval Academy and was destined to play back-up quarterback at an Army-Navy game at Soldier's Field in Philadelphia when the main quarterback was injured. Next to him is Marion Glover.  Marion bought Chuck Higgins' Dorr Willey Moth PUNKIE, Nr 948 after Chuck, in a fit of pique, put a "for sale" sign on the boat after a poor showing at the 1948 Nationals. Chuck later said that she presented the cash price so fast it made his head swim and he regretted the sale until the day he died.  Although Chuck is gone PUNKIE still survives. Marion became a Minister and moved to Ohio.  Next is Jim Bachelor, Jon's younger brother.  Note that the Bachelor boys are wearing matching Hawaiian shirts.  "Eddie" Silvers, as he was then known, is at the extreme right holding his "most improved" award.

In the back row, starting at left, is Bea Kratz.  Bea went on to study osteopathy and become an Osteopathic Doctor--much looked down upon by many "medical" doctors but much loved by many Scandinavians, including my bride and her parents.  Bea bought Moth Nr 807, then named TERMITE directly from Dorr Willey at the conclusion of the Antonia Trophy Regatta which was held at Brigantine YC in 1948.  I bought Nr 807, in desperate condition, from a down stream owner and took the opportunity to visit Bea in a nursing home a year or so before she passed away.  She was a lovely woman and was very pleased that her old, treasured race boat had found her way to sensitive hands.  I have since given BLONDIE, as she is now known, a full deck-off restoration.  Next to Bea is Dick Dell who I know nothing about.  Next to him is George Sloan.  George was the "old man" of the club to whom everyone went to for advise in boat building matters and repairs, as well as for racing advise.  The tall chap  holding two trophies is Bob Kalmbach. Bob couldn't afford one of Dorr's boats but since he had access to Bea's TERMITE and Marion's PUNKIE, he made careful measurements over the winter of 1948/49 and built his own successful copy.  To the right of Bob is Greg Clayton.  The only thing remembered about Greg besides that he was the best man at Bob Kalmbach's wedding is that he smoked a pipe while sailing and seemed very sophisticated for the times. Love the glasses.  Finally at the extreme right is Harold Rudy.  Harold went on to become a commercial airline pilot.

So, there is a time capsule in a photograph.  One thing to note is that in this picture no one is wearing jeans or shorts.  All have made an effort to spiff up at least a little.  Dress slacks are in evidence.  Some of the men are wearing ties.  The young women are in skirts or in Bea's case perhaps dress slacks, hard to say from the photo, but none the less not the least bit sloppy.  This photo is from an era where people made an effort to honor an event such as an end of summer yacht club trophy presentation with a bit of respect.  As my father once told me "if you dress like a bum, you'll be treated like a bum."  Sadly, those days and that advise have passed us by.

1946 Browns Mills Yacht Club Awards Presentation

Sunday, May 1, 2011

North Carolina Govenor's Cup Regatta; Elizabeth City, NC

This year's NC Gov Cup Regatta only drew seven entries but racing was close none the less.  The wind was out of the North which for Elizabeth City means not only a PITA for launching and retrieving boats, but also extremely shifty wind with extremely variable pressure:  one minute you're dead in the water and the next minute you're hiking hard to counter a harsh gust that came out of no where.  At one point I was trailing a fellow competitor by perhaps three boat lengths only to discover we were on the same heading but on opposite tacks!  Lots of ups and downs on the leader board during the day's racing.  At the end of the day 2nd place through 4th place had to be decided on  tie breaker rules.  I was in experimental mode for this regatta trying out  both a rig and a sail modification.  I know, I know, I should try one variable at a time but opportunities are limited.  Anyway, neither mod seamed to work to my advantage and I came in 5th out of 7 boats after working hard all day long.  But there's always next week when the racing schedule moves to Rock Hall, Maryland...

The Goodly Elisabeth had to stay home and work so I didn't have my usual excellent photographer.  As a result photos are scanty.

Beautiful Carolina blue skies. Temps in the mid-70s (all the Swedes in the audience just eat your hearts out; yes I put on sun screen and yes I still had some sun burn on the nose. Oh, did I mention drinking beers at the end of the day?).  Three Moth Boats, three distinctly different transom shapes.  Isn't a development class interesting?  The venue is on the Pasquotank River:
Team Albaugh entered two boats.  My ex-Olympic Europe won (loaned to a hot skipper), so I managed to retain a small shred of dignity...

Team Albaugh's entries in the fore ground.  The day's ultimate winner is the boat with the "USA" and Olympic rings on the hull.  But the skipper was NOT your diarist.  I had loaned one of my boats to a fellow competitor with a broken boat who at the end of the day won the event.  The boat I raced is Nr 64.  For this year my age and racing number match.  I haven't decided if this this is a good thing or not, but it beats the alternative.