The first time Les Swinton managed a Moth regatta in Perth was in 2010 with just 23 competitors. By January this year the start line numbers for the Australian Championship had swelled to 55 and despite the larger fleet, Swinton said it was all plain foiling.
January in Perth is hot, dry and not always breezy, and despite the temperature hitting 43 degrees Celsius on the second last day of the 15 race regatta, the Mothies were happy that all their races were run.
Swinton said it was very satisfying when seasoned competitors of the calibre of A-Mac (aka Andrew MacDougall) (VIC) and Rob Gough (TAS) commented that it was the best Moth regatta they had ever competed in.
The weather gods delivered a mixed bag of wind conditions ranging from light air, to medium to high winds, peaking at 30 knots.
“I made the decision to start races in a consistent eight knots or above as they need to be able to foil. During the event the conditions ranged from eight knots right up to 30 knots of easterly wind on the final day, with the average wind speed of 12-15 knots throughout the regatta,” Swinton said.
“I really believe in working as a team with the competitors and listening to what they have to say. With 15 races and two invitation races, the starts remained trouble free and out of the 15 scheduled races, there were only a couple of competitors that were OCS,” Swinton said.
The start boat team comprised four lap counters or scribes, and one person to do the sightings. The start-line was set at either 220 or 250 metres depending on the wind strength.
“We complied with the class protocol and held windward/leeward standard return courses with a gate finish. We set the course on Melville Water East, which is a very open and unrestricted area of the Swan River. It allows the competitors to sail long reaches on both the left hand and right hand side of the course. During the second half of the regatta, the wind came from the east, whereas there is usually a south westerly in the afternoon.”
Swinton and his team were certainly kept on their toes during this event as Moths reach incredible speeds and often overlap each other heading in different directions.
Swinton said the biggest challenge was on the light air days where the wind was fickle, and also on the day where temperatures hit 43 degrees Celsius with 12-15 knots.
“My only suggestion for the future would be, when holding races for this class in restricted waters, it would be handy to allow the race officer to use some other tools, like adding a lap. The Moths like a race that goes for 30 minutes so being able to hoist a course flag and a Number 2/3/4 that indicates how many laps would be good.
“Typically we were turning races around in 45 -50 minutes and there was no controversy or protests.
Competitor feedback was positive with most commenting that this was the first Moth regatta they had competed in where the race committee managed to hold all 15 point scoring races.