Sunday, September 25, 2011

Elizabeth City Nationals part II: a rogue's gallery

Yesterday's post was all about boats and the weather.  Today we'll take a look at some of the players.  Photo credits:  Amy Linton,  Elisabeth Albaugh and Lennie Parker.

First up we have Mike Parsons' wife Barb.  Barb doesn't sail but she plays an active and much appreciated role helping launch and retrieve boats.  Barb is an aggressive Corn Hole player (think bean bag toss, you dirty minded lot) at regattas where the weather is kinder.  Barb also likes a good chair and a good beer and even with the nasty weather we had at this year's Nats she was determined to get in her share of good brewskies.  Oh, and watch you mouth if you're trash talking Philly sports teams.  Barb will give you an ear full if she hears you bad mouthing the Phillies, Eagles, 76'ers or Flyers.

This is you diarist kitted out in his sailing gear.  Sarah Pugh asked diaristwoman why I'm allowed to dress myself.  The answer to that question is that the gear helps prevent me from getting beat up by the boat and as an extra benefit qualifies me as a MAMIL (middle-age men in lycra) in good standing.  Note to the cyclists in the audience: check out the stylish Campagnolo bike cap.

Walt Collins is our chief measurer and a fellow MAMIL even if that isn't apparent in this photograph.

New member Patrick Burger tweaking some string or other.  I thought the Europe had a lot of stings to pull until I saw Patrick's boat!

CMBA President Greg Duncan strikes a suggestive pose for Ms Linton's camera.  We're still puzzling over just what is being suggested here!

Charleston, SC area sailor, Lewis Hay is shown here adjusting the outhaul of his Europe.

Bill Schill rigs his Fletcher-Duflos on Saturday morning.  Bill was the 1963 Moth World Champion.

And now for the trophy presentation.  The wind was still up so we gathered in the lee of John Pugh's garage to collect our loot.

Bill Schill receives the Turtle Trophy from Joe Courter.  Joe initiated this "award" for the sailor who has the most spectacular capsize during the current racing season, including the Nationals.  My son Erik won this dubious honor a few years ago and allowed as how there are a lot of good names on that trophy!  John Pugh's Korean War era Jeep can be seen peeking out of the garage.

Patrick Burger receives the "youth" award from Greg Duncan.  Generally this trophy goes to the best sailor 18 years old or younger but with this year's low turn out Patrick was the youngest.  Well, at least he was under 50...
John Pugh was 3rd in the Generation I division.  It was good to see our host bag some loot.  Now he'll have no excuse for drinking from the bottle!  John was also 2nd in the Masters standing for those over 65. Your diarist is (slightly) too young to figure into that scoring.  Next year look out!
Believe it or not, your diarist somehow managed to take 2nd in Gen I.

Walt Collins was both 1st in Gen I and 1st in the Masters ranking. Walt had a hell of a regatta, often deviling boats in the faster Generation II division. Is there no stopping him?

Speaking of Gen II, John Zseleczky took 3rd.

Mike Parsons took 2nd in Gen II

Finally, wait for it, Jeff Linton was 1st in Gen II and the overall National champion, successfully defending his title.  That's all folks.  Next stop on the regatta circuit is the annual Carl Patterson Regatta at Chester River Yacht & CC in Chestertown, Maryland.

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.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A matter of perspective: Classic Moth Boat transom designs.

The photos of Moths generally featured on this blogspot are often bow shots with spray flying and the skipper with his main sheet and hiking stick all crossed up, such as the one below:

Your diarist rounding the leeward mark in OOH LA LA at the recently concluded 2011 CMBA National Regatta.  The venue is Elizabeth City,  North Carolina.  Photo credit for all images in this post: Lennie Parker.
However in a continuation of my earlier attempt to help both of my readers in the task of distinguishing between various Classic Moth Boat designs,(see the Gulfport, Florida Mid-Winter Regatta posts), this post will concentrate on an aspect of the boat which rarely is highlighted: the transom.

Here we see Walt Collins driving his Europe towards the weather mark.  Click on photos to enlarge.
Next we have John Zseleczky on the same point of sail in his Mistral design Moth.
Here are the two boats side by side.  Note that the Mistral (Nr 2000) has a deeper and more elliptical transom than the Europe. What is less obvious in this exposure is that the Mistral also has more rocker in her keel line as well.
In an attempt to introduce a degree of stability into the Mistral design, Jeff Linton has tortured the stock Mistral skin panels to fit the shallower Europe transom shape.  Jeff calls his modification a Mousetrap, as in "built a better one..."  Note the cassette style rudder on Jeff's boat.
This is Joe Courter's Maser.  The Maser is a Moth Boat derived from a dead Laser hull, hence the name of the design is a contraction of the words Moth and Laser.
The Maser has a similar transom shape and amount of rocker as a Europe but has a narrower maximum beam. This can be discerned by comparing the two boats seen in this photo.
Finally, John Pugh's Mint design reminds us that hard chine designs can be competitive.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Along with the bicycles in my collection I also have a couple of motor bikes, one of which  is the subject of today's post: my little Rödqvarna.  The Rödqvarna is a small (118cc), single cylinder bike which was manufactured by the Husqvarna Vapenfabriks Aktiebolag.  In English HVA translates into Husqvarna Weapons Company, Incorporated.  The company, which in the US is best known for dirt bikes, chainsaws, and sewing machines got it's start in 1689 making muskets for the Swedish army.  Over the years demand for weapons fell in Sweden, and in order to keep it's skilled work force busy HVA branched out to make many other products ranging from cast iron skillets to highly complex items such as sewing machines and one of my personal favorites, microwave hot dog vending machines: a great idea which was a little to ahead of the times; you put in a few coins and a minute later out popped a hot dog complete on a warmed bun.

Among the items produced was a range of motorcycles, which started in 1903 by the addition of a motor to a beefed up version of the pedal bicycle which Husqvarna already had in production.  During the 1930s Husqvarna raced their bikes in a number of the Classic race races such as the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. The well known British racer Stanley Woods was HVA's main works rider.  In the years leading up to the second world war HVA introduced a series of pedal assisted light motor bikes with 98cc engines. After the war the engine size was increased to 118cc and the pedals were deleted from the design.  Although in later years Husqvarna motor bikes are best known in moto-cross competition, the early two-stroke singles like my little bike were envisioned as cheap road transport.  HVA start the 118cc series with the all black painted "Svartqvarna" ("black-qvarna") in 1946.  My bike is a later "Rödqvarna" or "red-qvarna" and dates to 1952.  The red painted Rödqvarna is also called the "Rödmyra" (red ant) which is also a good description based on the color of the paint and the size of the engine!  I acquired my Rödqvarna from my Swedish in-laws when they were preparing to move from Sweden to Australia for three years to work for an Australian mining company.  My father-in-law told me I could have the bike provided I was willing to pay the costs of shipping and custom duty.  So, lets take a look at this fiery red ant.

Here she is, viewed from the left hand side.  The bike dates to 1952 and was the working man's go to work vehicle for those well off enough not to ride the bus or walk to work in the immediate post-war years.  To me she looks very much like a scaled down Indian road bike.  Note the fat fenders and "fishtail" exhaust.  The engine is a 2-stroke single that displaces a lusty 118cc which was rounded up to "120" for the purpose of advertising.

Zooming in on the left side of the engine.   K. L. G. spark plugs are getting very hard to find.  I think I'll keep this one for show and use a modern plug when I ride the bike.

A close up of the "fishtail".  I need to tidy the wiring for tail lamp!  Yes, that's XENOPUS in the background.
The right hand side of the Rödqvarna. For my Swedish viewers, the registration plate reads "P5600" and is the original one issued when the bike was new.  The cycle in the background is my BSA b25--almost 20 years newer  Remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge them for better viewing.
Classic tank shift.  The gearbox is a 3-speed.
The right hand side of the engine.  I love the script cast into the side cover.  Language lesson:  the company spells its name "Husqvarna" using antiquated Swedish spelling conventions.  The town, which incidentally diaristwoman hails from, spells its name "Huskvarna" which conforms to modern day spelling rules.  A "hus" is a house and a "qvarn" is a mill.  So Husqvarna started out as a mill house around which a town grew.
Last shot:  a look at the nice decals on the tank.  She's a beaut!