a few good men
Past Moth World Champ (and Zhik Europe Manager) Simon Payne’s annual ‘form guide’ has become something of a tradition in the history-rich class, and we’re privileged to be able to share yet another one with you on the eve of the 2014 Worlds in England. Enjoy this SA exclusive, and talk trash over here in the Moth Worlds thread. Photo clipped from a Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co shot.
2014 sees the event come back to Hayling island for the first time since 1977, a year well known for the amount of splintered plywood floating freely in the bay…
Firstly and before you read this, let’s just state something: Last year we humorously got 9 out of the top ten right, so those of you reading this and feeling a bit indignant about not being in the mix? Well, you can prove us wrong in two weeks’ time.
So, the bay. Well, it’s not that bad. Really. I’ve spent most of my life sailing here and the race area is truly one of the best on the planet…but the bar – the one you must cross to get to the race area? It’s easy on the way out, but on the way in, you encounter steep, wall-like waves. And then it’s about as hard as getting over a fence that’s leaning towards you, or to use an analogy probably better understood by the Moth fleet, as hard as kissing a woman who is leaning away from you. Carnage will no doubt ensue.
So without further ado, here is our top ten. Effectively you’ve just gone forward three weeks in time…maybe.
1st: Nathan Outteridge (AUS)
Amazing sailor. We watched him deliberately start late in Hawaii, so he was sure to be foiling at the start. Brilliance doesn’t always win, but he came close. In Hawaii he was also tired after a long hard summer. Moths aren’t his main focus at the moment either… but we suspect that as long as he’s taking his potassium, he will have be a fist full of power, a rusty fist but still a fist. Favourite for no other reason than he’s all round good, with no real weakness to his game.
2nd: Josh McKnight (AUS)
Got a winner’s nose, nailed the Worlds in Garda and rumoured to be smoking on Lake Garda again as we write this. It could be two times for the 2012 Moth World Champion. Josh sails hard and plays hard too. In fact we suspect that he’ll be a regular at quiz night in the Lifeboat inn by the end of the Worlds. Believes only in 1st place and is regularly hitting 18 knots upwind. Rumoured to be using solid carbon tramps, which will be good to review once he’s out of A&E.
2nd: Bora Gulari (USA)
When Bora won the Worlds last year he won the Worlds for the second time. The brilliance of his win cannot be overlooked. It was the lightest foiling Worlds, and Bora being one of the heavier sailors did supremely well. He isn’t known for being flash in waves, in fact he is more known for swimming in them, but in Hawaii he was arguably one of the heaviest sailors, and still nailed it. Popular too. In fact, as ghosted crossed the line in the last race in Kaneohe bay to win his second title, all the whales in the sea were singing “We are family”. Note: now not coming in order to sail a handicap race in the US Midwest. Oh, the life of an AC sailor [-ed]
3rd: Rob Gough (AUS)
When we were younger, a guy invented a fighter plane that wasn’t the fastest or the most manoeuvrable, but it was armour plated. The idea was that you couldn’t knock the fucker out of the sky. God knows what it was like as the pilot, but enter Rob Gough. Bulletproof in waves. We really do think if Hayling kicks off this will be a “walk in the park” for the boy with the Southern Ocean on his doorstep. Fit, young enough to cope, and old enough to handle it. If Hayling is as Hayling does, then the trophy is Hobart bound. Guaranteed.
4th: Scott Babbage (AUS)
“We didn’t start the fire; it was always burning since the world’s been turning” Is it though? El Presidente is one of the fastest moth sailors on the planet. Close a few times and maybe now time is running out…. We are looking for that “back to the wall “I don’t care what you got, I’m still going to beat you” attitude that comes from being edged out a couple of times too many, or from not enough fibre, freely associated with the obligatory Hayling Island Sailing Club Full English Breakfast.
5th: Rob Greenhalgh (UK)
Largely responsible for ending the global financial crisis, Rob is the majority shareholder in the European foil mountain that can be seen on Google Earth just north of Hamble. Clearly the best UK sailor at present, Rob has seemingly covered every base. Arguably you could put him favourite, but nothing is a cert; he wasn’t the top UK sailor in Hawaii though, just letting a podium finish get away from him in the last couple of days. He will either be biting at the heels of the leaders, or clear in front, winning with a race to spare.
6th: Brad Funk (USA)
Already with a couple of wild-eyed days in the Bay under his belt, Brad means business. Loaded with talent and endlessly fit, he exhibited remarkable control in practice over the bar, and he looks faaast! Whilst competent at boat work, a couple of times I have caught him looking at his adjustable wand with the same suspicion that an old person looks at a microwave… Anyway, if nothing breaks, and he’s not trying to frantically rethread a control line through a cascade midrace, he will be with the leaders.
7th: Chris Rashley (UK)
European Champ. All round good. Rumoured to be a tenth off Rob Greenhalgh with very similar equipment. Trends are hard to stop in sailing and sometimes you have to break them by doing something different. Does he have anything up his (knitted) jumper? We will have to see, but super consistent at the two Worlds he’s competed in, with two top ten finishes.
8th: Paul Goodison (UK)
The 2004 Laser Olympic Gold medalist has been working hard at his Moth sailing. A bit of an unknown quantity and not really raced yet, but history would suggest that Olympic medalists immediately impress, if, albeit at the first go they don’t take the trophy home. If it’s consistent – say 15 knots all week – Paul will be going fast. Importantly, and often overlooked in tuning runs, he’ll probably be doing the same speed on the last beat too. He’s fit, very fit. It’s unnatural, but still… However, if it’s up and down and you need to change gears a lot, he may not quite have the Moth experience yet.
9th: Chris Draper (UK)
May come dressed as the silver surfer and consequently would have been guaranteed to win at least the Mothapalooza – if it was still running… Still, the devil wears Prada and Chris has to be in the mix, yet our 49er bronze medallist is a little quiet of late. We think he will definitely have some major bling on his boat, perhaps from the “Sardinian Silver Skunkworks” occupied by the ’09 and ’13 world champ…We imagine that the process of creating foils to a time line is good practice for the AC teams! Top tip though mate, you will still need a roll of gaffer tape (which now comes in silver).
10th: Ben Paton (UK)
An amazing result in Hawaii ’13 and thoroughly deserved. Ben spent some years sailing around without an adjustable rudder, and that, in British waters, identifies him as a man packing the kind of tackle that you’d normally expect to find swinging about between the hind legs of a Grand National winner. He’s fearless, albeit in a “Stop, Forrest, Stop” kind of way. Not sure how much he’s done of late and doesn’t really seem to care about open meetings, fair enough.
Best of the Rest
Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI)
Well. Provided he’s fast, expect the helmsman of the successful Realteam Extreme 40 to be up there. Former European champ and former top 5 in the Worlds. Arnaud’s focus has been on other things lately. Provided his boat speed is there, he will be good (He was so slow in Hawaii that one night, the Claudicatis Cancri award turned up on his boat in the same way a Banksy mural suddenly turns up on a wall) Claudicatis Cancri? That will be the “Limping Crab” award. Awarded by an anonymous group in the dead of night. A group more commonly known as all the bastards who flew past you the day before.
Andrew “Amac” McDougal (AUS)
Sails from Black Rock, Melbourne with their big, but long rolling waves…But it’s different here. The short sharp Solent waves don’t have backs. For example, when you are sailing downwind, the wand goes forward so fast that whilst it maybe your Sunday, the wand is in Monday. It’s hard work and we are mindful that if you get it wrong you are up the beach! Having recently featured in the TV programme Coast Australia, Andrew could actually feature unintentionally on Coast England.
So there we go. One thing is sure: There WILL be a new World Champion this year. Good luck to all and safe sailing.
July 10th, 2014