Thursday, June 4, 2015

A French Moth

Back in the late 1950s, when I was starting out as a racer, we in southern New Jersey were just beginning to appreciate that there were Moth designs in overseas countries. France in particular seemed to be a hot bed of innovative thinking, introducing technologies from the Finn and other advanced dinghies to the Moth Class.  Things like free standing rotating masts, center of the boat travelers, and sealed roll tank side decks which not only provided buoyancy but were much more comfortable than traditional decks as well.  By the early 1960s, boats were trickling into the country, imported by companies such as the Nautica Corporation.  One of those Moths, built by the Lanaverre boat works was dubbed "the French Moth".

Although I have not been able to substantiate the claim, the Lanaverre Moth has been attributed to Christian Maury.  Maury, who worked his entire career for Lucien Lanaverre is perhaps best known as the designer of the International 420 which is to this day widely used in High School and Collegiate sailing competitions.

Recently a Lanaverre Moth has popped up for sale in the Norfolk, Virginia area.  What follows are photos of the Lanaverre Moth from that listing.

Although the hull is true to form, this example has had a number of modifications to the rig and hardware.

It this photo one can see that the original center traveler has been removed and replaced with a simple transom bridle.  Additionally, the foot of the sail is laced to the boom rather than employing the original bolt rope.  One wonders if the original boom broke and the current boom is a replacement.  Note the roll tank side decks which not only contribute to the buoyancy of this boat but also provide for spacious and comfortable cockpit.  This cockpit is a far cry from the cramped arrangements one generally sees with other Moth designs of this era.

Another departure from the original specification, is that the mast, which does appear to be correct for the boat, now sports a three stay rig rather than being free standing.  Whether or not the mast is still capable of rotation can not be determined from the photographs.

Red (and other color) sails were quite the rage in the early 1960s and to a degree are making a come back.  If you have a colored sail you need to stay at the head of the pack when racing since your position in the fleet will be obvious!


A better look at the added standing rigging.  Perhaps the stays were added in deference to the age of the spar?  I would think that originally the halyard would have cleated at the tip of the bendy mast rather than near deck level as it appears in this photo.

The over hanging edge of the decks might not pass the current Classic Moth sting test rule which demand no more than a one inch departure anywhere aft of the beginning of the centerboard trunk slot.  Due to the boat's age a waver might be granted.  Interested parties can contact the seller via this Craigslist ad:  http://norfolk.craigslist.org/boa/5051539341.html
 
Here is an ad for the Lanaverre Moth; page 44 from the 1960/61 issue of Moth Doings.  Back in the early 60s my father and I went to Paramus and looked these boats.  We decided against buying one when the salesman asked if there were any Challenger Moths at our regattas.  At that point in time the Challenger was an obsolete design.  My father reflected that if this boat was struggling against Challengers then it wouldn't stand a chance against a well sailed Cates-Florida, which was the dominant design at the time.  I've only seen a couple of these boats over the years and never in competition.  A pity since they probably were more advanced than we realized. After a short production run Lanaverre switched over to make Europa Moths.  The Europa Moth went on to become the Olympic Europe dinghy but that's another story.

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