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Wednesday, March 01, 2017


Very tardy making another post, for which I apologise. The peak of the WA Moth season, our State Championship, was over a month ago, on the 2nd and 3rd of March at the "Walpole in the Trees Regatta". Situated 4.5 hours drive SE of Perth, Walpole is a tiny little town that, once upon a time, was the host to a major end of season regatta. The sailing community in Walpole itself isn't very large, but sailors would converge from all over the state to participate. The Moths were an integral part of the regatta and as the Moth fleet declined in the late 90s, so did the Walpole in the Trees Regatta. Finally, in 1998, the numbers had dropped so far that the regatta wasn't held. Until this year.Thanks to the astounding efforts of devoted volunteers, more than 60 boats hit the water for a weekend of perfect conditions and excellently run races. The Moth class couldn't provide the same numbers as we once did, but we still had 12 boats make the trip. Everyone stayed in the caravan park adjacent to the yacht club. This allowed us plenty of opportunities to socialise and a very convenient walk from our accommodation to the rigging area.
Nearing the start. Photos courtesy of Bernie Kaaks
We were warmly welcomed by the whole community, including the locals who had no idea about sailing, and were fascinated by these flying boats. The beach was teeming with locals, keen to watch the racing and the conditions did not disappoint.Saturday afternoon we had 2 races in 13-17 knots of wind and perfectly flat water. The race committee held the Moths back to the end of the starting order, allowing the other classes a chance to get clear before we started. The course was a standard outer trapezoid with 2 W/L and then the drag race around the outside. Races typically took around 30 minutes.
Phil and Steve at the top mark. Photo courtesy of Bernie Kaaks
Tom Johnson quickly proved to be the
 fastest, gaining a clear lead early and staying well ahead of the rest of the pack for both races. Gear trouble plagued Steven Thomas and Luke Parkinson in the first race, but was resolved enough to allow better performance in race two. Max Puttman and Scott Sharpe spent the day battling each other and fending off Phil Smith who, with a new sail and centreboard, suddenly wasn't sailing like an old lady and John Ilett, who has finally figured out tacking!Unfortunately Colin Spence cracked his rear wingbar and had to retire from the regatta, Luke Parkinson broke his boom and Lloyd Edmunds spat out more dummies than his baby boy. Fang Warren was still figuring his boat out and Kerstin Sommer was consistently going her own pace, getting more and more comfortable with her new setup. The latest addition to the fleet, Marek Zimnicki, didn't actually take part in the racing, but valiantly stayed on the water with everyone else, just trying to learn.
Fang makes a whoopsie. Photo courtesy of Bernie Kaaks
Sunday morning was a little bit light with the breeze and racing was postponed for awhile. Eventually enough filled in for the other classes to go out and, eventually, the Moths as well. Only one race was held in the morning, starting in 6-8 knots of breeze and steadily building. Without consistently foiling around the first lap, the racing took much longer and the other classes were in for lunch by the time we finished. Tom Johnson was again the quickest by far, with Max Puttman and Steve Thomas battling it out for 2nd and 3rd. A quick break and then out for another 4 races. Only 3 were scheduled, but a re-sail was required because of confusion over the courses.In the afternoon, Tom Johnson maintained his dominance to take the championship comfortably. Fitness started to become an issue as the breeze built and the afternoon wore on, with boat handling falling down across the fleet. Still, some very tight races were had between Steve, Scott, Max, John and Phil, giving the spectators something to really enjoy. The final race was sailed in 15-17 knots, with only the Moths on the water. It was one of the closest races, with positions changing even on the reach to the finish, right in front of the beach. Glamorous to watch.

The final results were:
1st Tom Johnson
2nd Steve Thomas
3rd Max PuttmanThe fleet unanimously agreed that it was a hell of a lot of fun and we will be very keen to return next year for our States. I can't wait.
Tom was dominant all weekend. Photo courtesy of Bernie Kaaks

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