Monday, September 29, 2014

25th Annual Classic Moth Boat Regatta

In 1989 a group of sailors gathered in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on a sunny but chilly early October weekend.  Their "Bring Back the Moth Boat" Regatta was the start of the Classic Moth racing we enjoy today.  That first regatta, held after the IMCA-US folded in 1972, featured only circle-M rigged Moths.  Five boats, which included the Miss Inez, (Dorr Willey's personal boat built in 1946),  Picaroon, (another Dorr Willey-built Moth built in 1948),  Imp Too, (the 1938 National Champion), a fiberglass Challenger design Moth built in the mid-1950s), and Happy Princess (a Moth built at the Elizabeth City Shipyard in the mid-1930s, following one of Joel Van Sant's designs) were slated to race.  Miss Inez sprung a plank soon after launching which reduced the fleet to four with Randall Swan winning this inaugural event (sailing Picaroon) by a slim margin over Ted Causey (sailing the much newer Challenger-design).  Few if any of the participants or spectators that day imagined that Classic Moth Boats would still be coming to E. City twenty five years in a row.  But come they did, and over time this annual event evolved into the CMBA's National Moth Boat Regatta.  This year twenty boats attended with eighteen participating.  For the 25th anniversary it was decided to honor the Vintage Division winner as this year's overall National Champ rather than the actual fastest boat which in recent years has always been a Generation II design.  Your old diarist borrowed Mike Jones' Skip Etchells-designed "Connecticut" Moth for the event.

The Skip Etchells-designed "Connecticut" Moth.  Although best known for his efforts in the Star Class, Skip got his start as a builder by designing and constructing a fleet of Moths to this design for the Rocky Point YC in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.  When I was growing up we, in south Jersey, referred to this design as a "Connecticut" Moth.  Folks up at Rocky Point were always startled by that since they called the boats "Etchells" Moths.  Many thanks to Mike Jones for loaning me his prize boat for the regatta.
Kudzu hadn't been raced in a few years but with a little tuning and tweaking soon proved to be a fine boat!

Fine enough to earn me the first day leader's jersey.  Although fun to wear at the regatta dinner Saturday evening, that bulleye on the back of the shirt would soon grow heavy on my shoulders!

What follows is a collage of photos taken by fellow racer Dan Malott's wife Hope.

John Pugh (yellow fore deck) battles Rutledge Young, both in Generation I division Europes during one of the early Saturday races.

Bill Boyle driving his Vintage Division Abbott Moth to weather.  Bill would suffer a broken mast in the third heat of the regatta.  The youngest Vintage division boats are now over 60 years old.  We don't baby them.

Kudzu clinging to a narrow lead over Bill Boyle in Phoenix and Greg Duncan in Legend.

Gary Gowans dominated the Generation I division in Good Newz a modified Cates-Florida design which he built.

Ed Salva drives for the finish line in Maple Leaf a Europe he purchased in Canada.
Dan Malott's Shelley design Moth Look Out.

The vintage boats were fairly close all day Saturday.  The wind was a brisk 15 out of the NE with gusts higher.

Greg was on my bumper all afternoon.

Joe Bousquet sailing his Gen II boat TryUmph.


Jamey Rabbitt borrowed Jeff Linton's modified Mistral, Mousetrap for the regatta.

Rutledge Young leeward of Gary Gowans.  Yes, the boom is low on the Europe design!  The Europe dinghy started life as the "Europa" Moth.  Later a group of sailors split off from the Moth Class and formed a strict one-design class around the Europa hull.  With a change of sail a Europe dinghy can race as a Classic Moth.

The Pasquotank River is famous for having tea colored water due to the tannins leaching from the cedar and juniper tree needles indigenous to northeastern North Carolina.
A study in cockpit designs and control layouts.  Zach Balluzzo's Maser (a Laser cut down to Moth length).

In the old days, none of the Moths were tanked off or bulk-headed

Mike Parsons' Mistral Revolution.

Joe Bousquet was the one who popularized the idea of a small footwell style cockpit as a way to make the boats self rescuing.  Joe also introduced this particular array of double ended controls.  Many others have copied both ideas.

Mousetrap's cockpit.  Note the cassette style rudder blade.  Very handy for beach launches.
This bow shot shows the way Jamey dominated the fleet that first day.  After two days of racing he discarded a second place.

Walt Collins eventually came roaring back to strip away my brief overnight lead.  He had suffered an earlier boat problem which sidelined him for two races.  On Sunday, the wind backed to the NW, generally an unstable direction, and also the velocity was quite variable, so plenty of big shifts and massive dead spots punctuated by harsh gusts.  I continue to be very good at buying into the wrong side of the race course!  Walt sailed well and took a well deserved win as both the overall and Vintage division champion.  After the dust settled and the last beer can was recycled, I managed to escape town with second place in Vintage.

Kudzu is a great little boat.  I hope to see owner Mike Jones come out and race with us next season.

Squint hard enough and you can read "2nd Place Vintage division.  The brew d'jour is Shipyard's "Pumpkin Head".


  1. GREAT pics, George, thanks for posting......wish I lived closer!

  2. Thanks diehard. Did you sail Moths back in the day when the class was dominant (50s-60s) in the US? Where are you located? We race on the east coast from New Jersey down to Florida.

  3. No,George, I've written to you before, Mike Scott, sailed Moths in the 60's in UK, british Moth, now live in Puget Sound. Also lived in Oz and built a Coles Moth in the 60's