You might remember our feature on Bora Gulari and George Peet’s “Moth Camp” in Miami a couple of winters back. Fast forward to today, and this report from Miami’s first ever foiling Moth regatta, last weekend in Biscayne Bay. Matty Knowles reports:
“We’re here. What’s your excuse?”
That was the motto as 10 Moths descended on Miami for Stage 1 of the Layline Miami Winter Series. The goals of the event, organized by US MACH 2 dealer Anthony Kotoun line up nicely with the core values of the class: high quality, high-octane, low drama racing in great venues.
Simply put, Miami delivered. We had superb conditions on Biscayne Bay, with great wind almost every day, daily highs in the 80s throughout, and a total of about 4 minutes of rain during the five days I was in town. Likewise, we all took full advantage of Coconut Grove’s excellent nightlife, just steps from the sailing venue.
The fleet was small, but stacked, with a mix of professional and amateur sailors that included two former Moth world champions (Bora Gulari ’09 and John Harris ’08). Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were devoted to a bit of boat work and daily double sessions on the water. In the big breeze, the fleet ambitiously headed upwind all the way to Key Biscayne, only to realize that the lumpy conditions made the trip back home downwind something of a handful. We were having so much fun that we kept making this same “mistake” over and over. (Personal note: nothing erases a hangover like crashing into the bay at 26 knots.)
During one upwind, Bora’s front foil had a run-in with something from the natural world (we think a large skate? hopefully not a manatee…) and he got launched face-first into his forestay, with the impact tearing open his cheek. Despite former ABN-AMRO 2 medical officer Peet’s plea’s to let him address the problem with a staple gun, it was time to seek professional attention. Through the wonders of Facebook and SA a friend-of-a-friend-of-the-fleet put us in touch with a local ER doc who happened to be an avid kite boarder, and in minutes, our new fleet surgeon arrived at the venue with the proper supplies, and glued Bora’s face back together right on the slipway. Less than an hour later, we were headed back out for an afternoon session. [while the doc’s daughter, future SCOTW Mary Logan, 8, got a foiling sleigh ride with Gulari as part payment for the facial reconstruction –ed].
Friday was slalom day, and thanks to generous sponsorship from MACH 2, we were able to bring in Star sailor Magnus Liljedahl to run the races. It’s not every day you get to have an Olympic gold medalist as PRO, and Magnus absolutely nailed it. We got 8 races in, and I’m not soon going to forget the rush of being in a tight pack of 7 boats doing simo-foiling gybes around tight slalom gates at 20+ knots. Geoge Peet put in a rock solid performance to win the Slalom portion of the event.
Coconut Grove Sailing Center took over the RC duties on Saturday and Sunday for the fleet racing portion of the event. We used an ACWS-style course with a reaching start leading into a downwind sprint. The course setup worked out as expected, leading to lots of tight mark-roundings and condensed downwind legs. In fact, the only two-boat crash of the week was recorded during practice on Thursday, when Bora lost track of Anthony in the setting sun and the two locked rails (minimal damage).
Bora won the fleet racing portion of the event despite a strong push from Anthony as well as young gun Matt Pistay. A-Class star Ben Moon put in an impressive performance, especially considering that his first day of racing was literally his second-ever day in a foiling Moth. Ben made it around the course with no problems, and even beat a couple of boats.
We were fortunate to have Olympic coach Larry Sutor on hand all week working with everyone in the fleet. Larry is new to the Moth, which actually proved to be an asset. I think sometimes we let ourselves get too caught up with the unique facets of this boat, and it makes us a little lazy on the basic fundamentals.
Larry’s expert eye and sound advice helped us strip away some of the extraneous things we’ve been focusing on to the detriment of those fundamentals, allowing us to make some huge boat handling gains. Superb debriefs after racing each day helped cement the lessons, and moved everyone’s game up at least a notch or three!
Thanks to Anthony for his hard work in setting up the series, thanks to Coconut Grove Sailing Club for hosting us, and thanks especially to Layline Sailing for making the whole thing possible as our Title Sponsor.
And to all you folks with a Moth (or access to one), come join us for Stage 2 of the series on January 6-8. If you don’t have a boat, drop me a note — there is at least one MACH 2 for sale at the venue, fully set up and ready to go, and all you have to do is write a check!
We’re here. What’s your excuse?