Payne continues to show the way

Aussie Moth Nationals back in action after lay day at Skandia Geelong Week

Friday January 23rd 2009, Author: Lisa Ratcliffe, Location: United Kingdom
Simon Payne has firmed his stranglehold on the Zhik International Moth Nationals on a day that was frustratingly light until late this afternoon. In stark contrast to yesterday when the racing was cancelled at Docklands due to high winds, the Moths spent most of the afternoon in postponement shore side at Geelong’s Corio Bay.

Following today’s wins in race five and seven, his fourth of the series, Payne ( Mach 2) is leading the pointscore on 10.2 points ahead of Australian Olympic 49er sailor Nathan Outteridge ( Bladerider) on 18 points and Scott Babbage ( Appliances Online) on 26 points.

Payne, the 2006 Moth World Champion who began sailing the class as a child and has returned as an adult, and the Mach 2 designer, Andrew McDougall, only got the new boat foiling properly two days before the series began on Tuesday. Built at McConaghy’s in China, it’s a brand new design and the first to be raced in Australia -- and it’s proving fast and seaworthy.

The diminutive Payne doesn’t like to talk about how he’ll hold the advantage for the remaining three races, “if I start thinking about writing a winner’s speech I get a bit over-awed,” he laughed this evening. “I prefer to break it down, sailing is a series of small steps.”

He says getting a good start is key to his success, and trying to stay clear of the weed in Corio Bay - a tough ask when you are two feet above the water on foils and doing 24 knots of boat speed, the sort of pace the mothies were setting in this afternoon’s second race. Payne is not surprised by Outteridge’s early success in the Moth class. “He’s a fantastic sailor and it’s a privilege to sail against guys like him”.

As for Outteridge, he’s biding his time. “I’m just hangin’ in there. Hopefully he’ll make a mistake,” he said of Payne.

The 37 Moths tussling for their class’ national title on a sparkling Corio Bay completed the first of three scheduled races this morning, came ashore then headed back out for the 1400hrs start of the second.

After drifting around in a breeze that tantalised but refused to settle in from one direction the race committee sent the competitors back to the beach to await a decision on whether racing would resume or be abandoned for the day.

As Skandia Geelong Week’s sports boats crews relaxed back at Royal Geelong Yacht Club after their races a belated sou’easterly sea breeze finally blew in, rattling rigging in the marina and sending the Moths scurrying back out to a new course area for the final two scheduled races.

In 16 knots of building pressure the lightweight International Moths, which only average 30 kilos in weight and have a hull like a rowing skull with two huge hiking wings either side, skated along up on their foils in this afternoon’s race six, which finally began at 1705. Race seven began at 1806 this evening which meant a later than usual un-rig. Luckily tomorrow’s start is a late one with the first of the two scheduled races due to start at 1400hrs once the bulk of the Passage Race fleet has arrived from Williamstown.

Luka Damic ( Ready!) scored his first win in race six, beating David Lister ( Manic) and Payne. In race seven Payne led Outteridge and Lister when the results were tallied.

At 1800hrs tomorrow, Saturday 24, the top 10 on the Zhik International Moth Nationals pointscore, following race eight and nine, will be invited to participate in a ‘dash for cash’ off the breakwater at Royal Geelong Yacht Club. Ten Moths will start and each sprint race the last two will drop off until there is a match race between two Moths, who will have to literally grab the $500 cash from the outstretched hand of one of the race committee members on their way through the finish gate.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for west to north westerly winds 15 to 20 knots reaching 25 knots ahead of a south westerly change of 15 to 25 knots.

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