Saturday, November 7, 2020

Lost and Found Dept.


While going through a bunch of Moth Boat related stuff today, I came across this old news clip from the Seven Mile Times featuring Bill Schill sailing Pegasus.  Bill was the man to beat during the 1963 racing season.  A few Mothists like Pam Taylor, (as well as Bill Jr's parents) are mentioned in the adjoining column about Comets.  Hopefully, blogger will allow interested readers to enlarge the news clip above for easier  reading.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The 2020 Nationals--The Regatta that almost wasn't

The Classic Moth Boat Nationals, by tradition, follows on the 3rd weekend in September.  The combination of Covid-19 restrictions and hurricane remnants almost derailed this year's regatta. Even delaying the regatta from the traditional date to the Columbus weekend in October didn't get us completely out of the cross hairs of this year's hurricane season. Winds were predicted to be on the light side of the spectrum for Friday and Saturday. Sunday was billed as a probable day of steady rain. Whenever one changes the date of an event, there are winners and losers due to unmoveable obligations and other commitments. We were happy to have sixteen boats assemble for the regatta. What follows is a collection of photos taken by Greg Duncan and/or Lloyd Griffin during Saturday, the single day which we sailed. Racing was abandoned on Sunday.
Joe Bousquet brought four boats.  He was uncertain as to how many student sailors would be free to sail in the morning but he rigged them all anyway.
After getting the boats set up, Joe pulled them over on their sides for the night.  Very light wind were predicted overnight.
He placed the blades on the sails for a bit of weight against the odd puff of breeze.  The boats were fine the next morning.
Bill Boyle's vintage division Abbott Moth.Add
Jay Yerkes did a lot of structural and cosmetic work to his Mistral since the last time we saw her.
The same can be said for Donald Hewitt's Mistral.
Mike Parsons' Mistral. 
For the  sake of comparison here are the bottoms of  the four boats which Joe brought down from Norfolk.  First his Mistral.
Next we see the  lines of the Lane Reeves designed "Savannah Mistral".  Lane wanted to make the Mistral shape a bit more user friendly.  He did succeed but at the expense of the amount of skipper weight which the boat will accommodate.  This would be a great boat if one weighs 90 lbs. 
The bottom of the  Fletcher-Cates.
The bottom of the Fletcher-Swiss.
Here we see Joe Bousquet in the blue Mistral leading Parker Purrington in the Swiss Moth (Nr 2739) at the weather mark.  Matthew Panek (Nr 71) and Bob Patterson (Nr 217) are keeping the Gen II boats honest.
Here, your old diarist, sailing his wood Europe, Nr 151, rounds just after Joe's Mistral proving that in light air most logs drift at about the same rate.  I was sporting a new sail, stitched up by Justin Ailsworth (Evolution Sails, Chesapeake).  This sail gave me more boat speed than I've seen in many a day.  I hope the shape works in a breeze as well!
A sign of the times.  Bill Boyle is that masked man.  We all wore masks while launching and retrieving and some forgot to remove them once away from the dock!
Jay Yerkes, Mistral.

Maggie Mayer, one of a pair of sisters racing at this regatta, is a summer sailing student at the community sailing program.

The Abbott.  Bill was the default Vintage Champion since he was the only  Vintage division boat competing. 

Donald Hewitt's primary objective was to complete the course in the tippy and new to him Mistral.  In that regard he had a successful day even though he slipped in the boat and put a foot through a side tank panel.

Generation II and overall winner, Mike Parsons (nr 79)/

Bob Patterson (Shelley, Nr 217) and Logan Weeks (Europe Nr 99).

The new sail has a loose foot rather than the more familiar bolt rope foot, so I'm sure there's lots for me to learn about proper adjustment.  Additionally, the top batten is full length, and although fairly soft, the batten, at least in this wind range, had the annoying tendency of staying inverted after a tack and requiring a smart snap of the boom to get it to pop over.  So much for "attached flow"!  This was so even with no tension on the batten.  I'll need to seen if RBS has a softer tapered batten.

Glassy.  The wind ranged from zero to about 2 knots.

We get our due in the Daily AdvanceAfter over thirty years of holding this regatta in Elizabeth City, Moths are still newsworthy in this small northeastern North Carolina town.
One last look at 2020.  The remnants of Hurricane Delta were pushing rain up from the gulf and so racing was abandoned for Sunday.  In hindsight, we could have probably gotten several races in before the rains came, but then we would have been loading boats and driving home in the rain.  All in all I think the RC made the right decision.  With no regattas on the schedule until the Mid-Winter regatta down in Gulfport, Florida, we bid adieu to the pandemic year and hope that the virus doesn't cost us more lost regattas in 2021.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Who remembers the P. Evanson Boat Company?

While going through boxes of stuff during our virus lock-down, I rediscovered an old brochure I've had since back in the early 1960s when, way back in the pre-internet days, I wrote off for a copy.  Responding to advertisements by hand, licking a stamp and waiting patiently for a reply.  Remember that?

Of course the Moth (a Cates-Florida design) and the Penguin were what piqued my interest.  P. Evanson  produced their own boats but also imported boats both in kit form and ready to sail.  I wonder how many Evanson Penguins and Moths were sold?  On the Penguin front they would have faced stiff competition in the local marketplace against Jack Wright (Penguins) and Blair Fletcher (Moths).

The boat is as long as the car!  I think the car is an Austin A-30.

Surprisingly, Evanson pushed the Blue Jay rather than the Comet which was more commonly seen at south Jersey regattas.  IIRC, Corinthian YC of Cape May was the only club in my neck of the woods that had a fleet of Blue Jays.

The Enterprise, like the dinghy seen on the top of the Austin, was without a doubt an import from the UK.  I don't recall ever seeing one on the water.  Jack Wright had better luck importing the slightly larger GP 14.  The GP caught on while the Enterprise stalled in a fickle marketplace. 
I tried google-searching P. Evanson Boats but turned up very little extra info for the company.  They appear to have existed from the early 1950s to perhaps the mid-1980s.  Suffice to say that like many other providers of small sailing dinghies, they had their moment of commercial success and then faded away.  They live here on the pages of this brochure.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Another mis-labeled postcard?

I spotted another old post card featuring Moth Boats the other day on flea-bay.  This one supposedly taken in Surf City, NJ a beach community on Long Beach Island (or LBI in local speak).  LBI is another barrier island along the New Jersey shore, just north of  Brigantine.  Unlike Brigantine, LBI has several towns, from Holgate at the south end to Barnegat Light at the northern tip.

On the back side, the card is entitled "Taking boats out of the water after a day of racing from the Surf City Yacht Club."  The scene features Comet class boats, (a magnifying glass reveals that the Comet with the red hull and white transom is named Red Devil, if that helps jog someone's memory), as well as a stern view of a Cates-Florida Moth (the white hull with the girl in red standing next to it), and a Dorr Willey Moth seen in the background.  Folks are patiently waiting for their turn at the ramp or hoist, much as one does today.  To the right, on the pier, a crowd of people are gathered around what appears to be a third Moth with a dark blue hull being loaded onto a trailer.  That boat looks like a Shelley or perhaps a Europa Moth. If so, that would move the date of this exposure to the mid-1960s rather than the late 50s/early 60s.  The upside down boat could of course be another Cates design Moth.  It's impossible to tell even with magnification.  The cars in the photo all appear to be from the mid 50s to early 60s which seems about right.  The real sticking point with this postcard for me is the clubhouse! 

As a teenager, I raced my Moth at the Surf City YC's annual fall regatta.  This was a big multi-class two day event held the weekend after Labor Day, (September in the USA) and was a last hurrah of summer for us before having to put the boats away and get semi-serious about school and studying.  The SCYC clubhouse looks nothing like the unpretentious flat topped building seen here.  Surf City's clubhouse was (still is) a large multistory structure which reminds me in a vague sort of way of a large Dutch colonial beach house.

The building in this postcard might be the Brant Beach YC or perhaps an early shot of Spray Beach's clubhouse, but not that of Surf City.  Having said that, the photo still provides a pleasant journey back to a time which no longer exists--at least in terms of casual simplicity or the types of boats being raced--not a Sunfish, Opti, or Laser in sight.  Speaking of casual, it seems that the producers of postcards during this era exercised a lot of poetic license when labeling their products!  Can anyone comment on the actual location?

Friday, May 1, 2020

The 1959 Moth Nationals

Bill Spencer, the US Moth National Champion in 1959 recently contacted me.  We emailed back and forth reminiscing about the time Bill brought his Bill Lee designed moth Cobia up to Brigantine for our annual summer regatta which was prior to the 1963 Nationals at Ocean City YC (New Jersey) and the International Regatta which that year was held at Larchmont YC  (New York).  Bill reminded me that he had won the Nationals in 1959 when they were hosted by the Corinthian YC of Cape May (New Jersey).  That jogged my memory and led me to the pages of an old scrapbook which another Moth Boater, George Spiecker, had given me about a year earlier.  Indeed, inside the pages of George Spiecker's book were news clips detailing the 1959 event.  Bill won, sailing Cobia.  The regatta, initially slated for three days was shortened to just the completed races from Friday and Saturday.  High winds with gusts measured at 50 mph cancelled Sunday's activities for the remaining 83 boat fleet.  What follows is a distillation from George Spiecker's scrap book plus the official results, kindly supplied by Bill Spencer from his Moth archives.  Thanks to both, there will be more Moth history from the the late 1950s period coming to light in the following posts.  Stay tuned.

In those days Moth Boat Regattas were big news!  This photo was taken for the front page (above the fold, thank-you very much) of the August 6th, 1959 issue of the Cape May Star and Wave.  Overall regatta winner Bill Spencer is third from left.  The arrow indicates George Spiecker, who won the Junior Nationals and also finished 3rd in the overall standing.  Second from the left is the Ladies Champion, Mariann Wark.  Back in 1959, a copy of the Star & Wave set the reader back 7 cents.  The newspaper survives to this day but now costs $1.00.

I haven't figured out how to get blogger to incorporate a "click to enlarge" feature for these hard to size news clips.  If anyone knows how to do that please leave a detailed comment.  Meanwhile I will distill the major points of this very thorough article. 

George Spiecker sailing his Cates-
Florida Moth By George, Nr 1620 the the 1959 Nationals at Cape May. George finished as the Junior National Champion  photo courtesy of George Spiecker
The Bill Lee-built Cobia  being sailed by Bill Spencer, the 1959 U.S. National Champion.  Cobia while similar to Bill Lee's earlier boat Mint, Nr 1335 differed by have a keel stepped mast rather than a deck stepped mast and also by having an extra inch of rocker in the keel.  photo courtesy of Bill Spencer.
Bill's surviving copy of the registration list is quite informative.  It lists several Brigantine sailors as well as Tom and Bob Patterson, plus their dad Carl.  Bob and his dad shared a boat since general participants sailed at different times than  the juniors and ladies.  The Pattersons sailed Connecticut design Moths. Tom came in 50th and Bob was 57th out of 60 juniors.  Bill Schill also sailing a Connecticut, raced at this event, coming in 5th in the junior division.  Overall there were 124 skippers and109 boats at this event.  Many of the juniors sailing  this event, such as Frank Adshead, would go on to become major players in the next few years.

The ladies division was 28 competitors deep.  Where are women Moth sailors today?  Mariann Wark swept both of the races sailed.  Sadly, other than the photo at the top of this post, I  have no photo of the Women's Champion sailing her Titan Moth, Nr 1585, Lil Warrior II.  

So, that's a wrap on the '59 Nats.  The Moth Class was at a peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Later the Sunfish and then the Laser would undercut the Moth Boat but in the era reported here, the Moth was perhaps the biggest game in town--at least along the eastern seaboard of the U.S.A.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

2020 Classic Moth Boat Mid-Winter Regatta

This event was the 22nd Mid-Winter Regatta in Florida (the first Mid-Winter was billed as the "Meet in St. Pete" back in 1998) and the 15th consecutive Mid-Winters hosted by the Gulfport YC.  Moths tried St. Pete (Tampa Bay is big water for a Moth Boat) and later moved to Davis Island YC for a couple of years, but after discovering the charms of Gulfport YC and Boca Ciega Bay we've never looked back.  This year's turnout was a little disappointing (only six boats came to the event) but the club, friendly as ever, took our small number in stride and the regatta took place featuring 11 races spread out over two days during the weekend of 22nd/23rd February.  The CMBA hopes that this year's turnout was an anomaly brought on by folks catching the flu right before the regatta, final exams falling at the wrong time in one case and unmovable family commitments in other cases.

Of the six boats to come, we had one Mousetrap (Jeff Linton), two Mistrals (John Z and Mike Parsons), one modified Magnum Mk II (Joe Bousquet; low aspect rig, no wings and other mods to make the hull comply with Gen II rules) and two Europes (me and Larry Suter).

The folks that showed up were some of the top competitors in the class, plus your poor ol' diarist.  I knew I wasn't going to stay on the same page with the faster Gen II boats, and my competition in Gen I was Larry Suter, a former America's Cup crew member during the 12 meter era and currently a coach for elite level sailors.  My goals for the regatta were quickly reduced to the following two:  (1). not to flip, and (2). not to trail so distantly as to make the other boats wait an overly long time for me to finish before the next start sequence could commence.  In this rarefied group of competitors, if I beat a boat it would be because of a mechanical breakdown or a big swim on the part of the other skipper. On top of that, the weekend started off distinctly chilly and breezy for Florida.  I was glad I bought an insulated spandex Farmer John but regretted the fact that I'd told myself that my wet suit would be overkill for sunny Florida!  Friday afternoon the wind whistled ominously through the telephone wires as we rigged our boats.  Additionally, nobody splashed their boat for a practice sail.  The NE wind persisted well after sunset as we walked to Pia's for our group dinner.  It was distinctly chilly--but not as bad as one Mid-Winter in St. Pete when we woke up to 27 degree temperatures and the race committee postponed racing until the air temp got above 50 degrees F! 

The winds were in the manageable mid-teens with gusts a click or two higher at the start of racing on Saturday.

Joe Bousquet (sail Nr 48) inboard of your old diarist at a mark.  This picture shows how narrow the Magnum is compared to my Europe.

Jeff Linton in Mousetrap.

John Zseleczky sailing his Mistral design.

Larry Suter with his controversial sail with the scalloped leach.  We've measured this sail twice and while it looks odd, it does measure in using the ERS wording and diagrams.  Whether this enhances performance beyond a normal leach remains to be seen.  Larry is fast with a conventional sail.

Mike Parsons leads Joe Bousquet.

With both the breeze and chop up on Saturday, Joe added a Tyvek and duct tape fore deck to the Magnum to keep the foot well in the cockpit from filling.

Your diarist in Femme Fatale.

The small bump on the Magnum's starboard bow is a sealed off tube for launching an asymmetric spinnaker which was at one point permitted in Scott Sandell's "Modern Moth" group.  It would still make a great bottle rocket launcher to fend off jet skiers--just sayin'...

Keeping Joe Bousquet company.  Joe, one of the top competitors when sailing his Mistral, is very brave to continue sailing this tricky, narrow boat knowing that she is still a work in progress.  Even with alight weight carbon rig replacing the aluminum Needlespars, this boat is a handful without hiking racks.  Having said that, Joe has made great strides forward since he first raced this boat at Brigantine, last June.  This boat is now faster than a Mistral on reaches.  With a bit more development the Magnum might become a Mistral beater--at least in some conditions.

I could hang briefly with the Mistrals going up wind.

But going downwind, the Mistrals would accelerate on the first puff and that was that.  Jeff at the front, me at the back.

Jeff brought his A game.  We had 11 races and so got to discard our worse score.  His discard was a first place finish. 

Jeff and Mike jockeying for position at the start.

Larry, unlike me, was competitive with the Gen II boats. But although he could finish ahead of one every now and then, he couldn't dominate them.  As the wind went soft on Sunday Larry struggled to stay in contact.

Sparkly water.  Me trailing Joe B's Magnum.

Low boom?  No, I think John Z is just looking for a sandwich.

For Sunday's races Joe dispensed with the Tyvek fore deck.  The water was less lumpy and the wind dropped as the day went on.

Speaking of wind, we had a fair breeze until the final race, when the sea breeze started to battle with the existing front and the two opposing breezes cancelled each other out.  It took forever for me to make the finish line.  Luckily nobody was keeping time and the RC still had beer and sandwiches.

Boat 151 gets the final air horn toot of the regatta.  At the beginning of the race, this was an upwind finish.

I'd probably still be out there trying to make it back to shore but Amy L. took pity on me and offered a tow back to the club.  At this point the air temp finally decided to go north of 70 degrees F--the signal that it's time to pack up and go home!

The trophies went three deep for each division.  Since there were only two boats in Gen I, one "trophy" was reallocated to the Gen II fleet.  With only six boats in attendance everybody got one.  One of the traditions with this regatta is that the lowest trophy winner gets first choice.  I picked the bottle of Black Magic.  Never heard of it.  It turns out to be a product from some far away tropical paradise called "Canada"!  Since returning home I've sampled it.  It's quite tasty with a warming burn in the back of the throat and a lingering molasses after note.  Not at all like the Newfie Screech of my youth!
So above are the results, read them and weep.  Overall I came in DFL, but a solid second (out of two) in the Gen I division.  As per my pre-race prediction, the only times that I beat other boats was when they experienced gear malfunctions or flipped.  But--I got a bottle of rum!  Everybody's a winner at Gulfport!  Final notes:  all who attended this year's Mid-Winters enjoyed the event; and as per usual, I'm indebted to Lennie Parker and Amy Linton for the photos which make up the lion's share of this post.  Here's hoping that 2021 edition of this regatta is better supported.  The date has already been firmed up with the club: next year the Mid-Winters will fall on the 20th/21st of February.