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.