Saturday, November 16, 2019

The 1957 Moth Nationals

I came across this old announcement from the 1957 Moth Class Nationals while sorting through a box of stuff.  The four day event (two days of racing) was held, just after Labor Day, at the Margate City YC in New Jersey.  To put this in perspective, those born that year are now eligible for social  security:

Sadly, the MCYC no longer exists.  The club petered out about twenty years ago when membership dropped below the level needed to pay the real estate taxes and clubhouse upkeep.  No doubt the site is now either a marina or condominiums.

Racing included separate Championships for the Open, Junior and Women competitors.  One wonders what constituted "proper" identification for the Saturday evening party?  Interestingly, the street address of the club is not provided.  Most of the competitors during this period of the IMCA were local and already knew.

Burt Dowler, the IMCA president from 1942 until 1958, was part of the protest committee.  This event would be one of Mr. Dowler's final acts as Moth Class President.  His health declined and he passed away in October of 1958.  The remaining class officers struggled with the leadership vacuum caused by his death.  One of Burt Dowler's pet projects was the annual Moth Class yearbook which he started in 1950, called Moth Doings.  There is a gap of two years (1958 and 1959) before the class collected itself and finally resumed publication of the yearbook in 1960.  The final issue of Moth Doings was published in 1965 just before the IMCA reorganized itself as a truly international body in which member nations were parts of rather than an organization controlled by just one member nation.

Getting back to the regatta, the winner of the Open division was a young Blair Fletcher sailing a boat of his own design called Dixie Peach.  Blair would go on to become one of the most dominant builders of Moth Boats in the 1960s.  Randall Swan was second and Newt Wattis was third.  In the Junior division, Peter Tuffs won followed by Ricky Shepperd and Danny Mullray.  Didi Adshead prevailed in the Women's division over Paula Holmes and Marianne Wark.  The team award went to the Charleston Moth Fleet over Stone Harbor, Margate and Harbor Sailing. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Another old Post Card

This card features my favorite island and favorite class of small racing dinghy:

The Moths pictured here are quite primitive and appear to date to the very early 1930s. They feature transom bows and probably have heavy, pivoting centerboards rather than "jab" or "dagger" boards which were introduced to the class by the mid-1930s.  Although the card is postmarked August 25, 1938 the card probably was available in drug stores and novelty shops well before that date  Hull shapes changed at a revolutionary pace rather than an evolutionary one during that first decade.  By 1938 the Moth Class had round bilge shapes such as Antares, Stormy, and Imp Too.  I can just make out the name Pluto on the side of the boat closest to the camera.  It was a tradition in the old Evening Star Yacht Club to name Moths after stars, planets, constellations, etc. and so while this race is taking place in Brigantine,  no doubt most of the fleet is from the ESYC in nearby Atlantic City.  The presence of boats with two digit sail numbers is another clue to the correct age of the image.  The boat sporting "LE 3" on the sail is probably a visitor from the Little Egg YC, which like many Barnegat Bay clubs used their own fleet numbering system rather than that of the fledgling National Moth Boat Association.

The ink on the reverse side of the card is faded to the point where I had to resort to the aid of a small magnifying glass to make out the message and address.  The card is addressed to a Mrs. W. Helm at Box 6-5-2, Laurel Springs, NJ.  That's interesting in as much as Laurel Springs is less than 50 miles from Atlantic City.  I purchased the card from a vendor in New Castle, Kentucky.  One wonders how the card traveled so far after it's first trip through the mail?  One also wonders if this card is the sole survivor of this photograph?  Turning to the message, the writer is someone named Priscilla.  Priscilla, a woman of few words, wants Mrs. Helm and family to know that she's having a good time in Atlantic City.  She doesn't add on the well used line of  "wish you were here".  One reads into this that Priscilla, although concerned with the Helm family's well being, didn't particularly want them under foot during her brief spell of R and R by the sea.  Other notables and ponderables  seen on this side of the card include the fact that Brigantine Beach was considered "Atlantic City's smartest suburb".  Really, Brigantine, a separate island, a suburb?  One wonders if Ventnor, Margate and Long Port (towns on the same Absecon island as AC) were also considered suburbs of the "big" town?  Note that postage was just a penny.  The stamp of course predates the self stick variety we know today.  Back then one had to lick the stamp (or otherwise moisten the adhesive) before applying it to the card.  If I wanted to carefully lift the stamp off the card and then solubilize both, perhaps there would be enough extractable DNA from that lick to learn a bit about the mysterious Priscilla, such as her ethnicity, predisposition to a laundry list of chronic diseases and so on.  But, like Mrs. Helm, Priscilla is probably no longer with  us--the card we know from the postmark is 81 years old.  The sender and recipient were perhaps in their late teens to early 20s, so by now would either pushing 100 or beyond that age.  No, I will allow Priscilla to sleep in peace and enjoy the card as it is--a rare surviving window into a world which, like the folks involved, no longer exists.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

30th Classic Moth Boat National Regatta

Hard to believe that 30 years has slipped away since Classic Moths resumed racing down in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  I've attended all but the very first event, which featured five boats.  This year's event saw twenty three Moths compete.  The age range of skippers was from 12 to 75--one is almost never too young or too old to race a Classic Moth.

Diaristdaughter was once again part of the mark boat crew and what follows are some of the photos she managed to take in between moving course marks.

Both days of racing featured mostly sunny skies, temps in the agreeable side of 80, and light (4 to 6 knot) wind from the SW.
Due to the continued efforts of Greg Duncan (Elizabeth City) and Joe Bousquet (Norfolk), we had a record (for us) of seven junior sailors (U-18).  I recall one Nats wherein our "junior" was the youngest sailor (aged 34), just to give the trophy away.  That was then, this is now.  Above, we see one of the E. City juniors, David Panet sailing Walt Collins' former Europe, now owned by a local sailing club.
Kale Jones sailed the ex-Joe Courter Europe, also owned by the E. City sailing club.

Bodie Blackford, from E. City, sailed Greg Duncan's Europe

Finally, our last E. City junior, Sam Moncla (leading Bodie) sailed John Pugh's Europe.  Sam is a descendant of Wilbur Van Sant, (Moth Boat founder Joel Van Sant's brother).  Sam must have inherited the sailing genes from them.  His winning ways are impressive!

Pretty in pink.  Down from the Norfolk area is Abbie Kiggans, sailing Joe Bousquet's Maser.  In past years Joe has loaned boats to Abbie's older brothers.  We tend to lose junior sailors to college.  Hopefully some of this crew will return.

Another Norfolk area junior, Chase Brittain, sailed Susan Bousquet's modified Shelley.
Rounding out the junior sailors from Norfolk, Severin Lavarius sailed the Swiss Moth which Joe B. sailed to overall victory in last year's National Regatta.
With the juniors accounted for, we will now list the, (cough), older skippers.  In no particular order we have:

Your old diarist sailing his Galetti-built Europe, Femme Fatale.

Diaristson, Erik sailed our Winner-built Europe, Ooh La La.

Bill Boyle sailed his son's cedar strip Europe.

Zack Balluzzo is seen here in Y2K Bug, his Collins-built Mistral.
John Pugh sailed Wingnut his Gen I, Gregory-built Mint design (sail Nr 20).  To leeward is John Zseleczky sailing his vintage division Ventnor Moth, Tweety.  Tweety  was formerly owned and sailed by the first CMBA President, Ekry Gregory.

Walt Collins was back, sailing his Gen I Moth Feather.

Gary Gowans, sailing in Vintage, is seen here in Tennis Bracelet.  This boat was built in Pittsburgh, PA during the late 1940s.  Gary recently rebuilt the boat and with Gary in the hot seat she is deceptively hellishly fast.

Eric Bellows sailed the Merv Wescoat-built Shelley Lookout.

Don Hewitt sailed Legend, a vintage Connecticut Moth.
Bob Patterson sailed Deacon, his McCutcheon-Shelley.

Ed Salva is seen here sailing his Europe Maple Leaf.

Don Janeway rounded out the vintage division fleet with 3-D, a Ventnor Moth which has been in his family since new.

John Z's son Pete took over John's Mistral Y2K2 for this event.

Another Gen II competitor, Mike Parsons, is seen here in Nr 79, Revolution.

Joe Bousquet reverted to his Mistral, Try-Umph, for this event.
Heading out to the starting area on Saturday morning.  Lots of slack in the Cunninghams.

A bit of breeze here.  It didn't last long

Waiting for a start.
More waiting.
Gary had Tennis Bracelet punching way above her weight, as did Walt in Feather.  Both boats were quite often mixing it up with the Gen II Mistrals.

Down wind legs could be frustrating.  After working hard to eek out a lead, one could often be treated to the sound of a gaggle of boats surging up from behind on a "private" puff of wind.
The light air and random puffs tended to cluster the boats leading to moments of "togetherness" during mark roundings.

The camera lens shortens the length of the leg between these two marks.

Abbie about to get pinwheeled off at the mark.  See next pix.

Europe booms are low!

Very patchy wind.

Milling around before a start.

An old geezer in a wooden boat crossing the finish line all alone.  #So Sad!

Just drifting and drifting.  Hey, that reminds me of a song from the Paul Butterfield blues band...
John Z's Ventnor. 

Walt Collins in a Ted Causey-built Moth from the early 1990s.  This boat had been listed for sale on but found no takers at the initial asking price.  The owner, who was in the process of moving house sent me an angst filled email, two days before the move, indicating that if no one wanted the boat (now offered for free), she was going to the dump.  As can be imagined, the significant price drop caused something of a frenzy within the membership.  Joe B. was closest to the boat and saved her from a ride to the dump.  The boat will soon have a new permanent owner--Joe has too many boats!  The former owner asked that if possible, she'd like a photo of the boat assembled and in the water.  Walt, who knew the owner from high school days obliged.  While sail-able as is, the boat will need a bit of tweaking to bring the hull up to current minimum weight and the sail within current measurement rules.

The winners?  Mike Parsons was the overall and Gen II division champ, followed by Joe Bousquet and Pete Zseleczky.  The order in Gen I was Walt Collins, Sam Moncla and Bob Patterson.  The Vintage division winner was Gary Gowans, followed by John Zseleczky and Don Janeway, Walt took the Founder's Award (oldest competitor) and Sam Moncla was the top Junior sailor.  So, that's a wrap on this year's Nats.