Diamonds are a boy's best friend
Perfect sailing conditions greeted the fleet of 25 Moths which arrived at the second Moth Grand Prix event of the year at Parkstone YC, Poole Harbour over the weekend of 7-8 May.
The event saw many of the top British boats lining up against each other for the first time since the World Championships in Australia in January, and it was the perfect proving ground to see what performance gains had been made over winter months.
New foil designs and new boats were being used for the first time and some new, and old, faces to the fleet had been putting in some serious sailing hours and clocking up some outrageous speeds - with Mike Cooke recently achieving 28.8 knots. However, an edge of nervousness appeared to creep in to viewings of the latest Mach2 and Ninja foils, which were being kept closely under wraps, indicating that the Nationals tile this year is being regarded as a highly coverted prize to win.
Race 1 kicked off with a glorious 10-15 knot southeast breeze, and immediately saw some of the usually suspects in the top bunch; Mike Lennon (Hyde Sails), Simon Payne (Abarth), Jason Belben (Sailtek), and newcomer Chris Rashley. Mike Cooke (Aardvark Technologies) showed the potential of the latest Ninja foils by climbing over the fleet from behind up the second beat to go on to take the race, followed by Lennon, with Rashley narrowly in third from Belben.
Race 2 started in slightly less wind, with patches across the race course that served to frustrated a few. But Lennon put the hammer down, leading right from the start with Rashley - also sporting new Ninja foils - second, and Mike Cooke third.
In Race 3 Lennon showed he was on full mojo, making the day his by port tacking the fleet, to lead the peleton round with ease in a building breeze, followed by Rashley and Ricky Tagg.
Sunday opened with a fresh Southerly buster at 20-25 knots. However, with some of the fleet feeling fatigued from the previous day, and probably the memorable evening session organised by Rod Harris, the fleet readying themselves for Race 4 was reduced. In part, with quite a number of boats being shipped out to 'Foil Fest 2011' at Mar Menor in Spain that evening, some decided to pack their boats early.
Race 4 opened with Simon Payne showing he meant business, leading from the start with all guns blazing, and feeling more in the groove having switched to his favoured KA MSL10 sail. Jason Russell and Jason Belben chased hard, where the downwinds were not for the faint hearted, where many were seen many sailing flat chat on the limit.
Race 5 saw Payne lead until the final beat when he stuck the beak in at the windward bare away, allowing Belben to take the race followed by Russell.
Going into the last race, the weekend could still have been won or lost for three boats. Payne showed he had his race face on, owning the day, followed by Chris Rashley and Belben, which was also reflected in the overall results.
Some events are far more memorable than others. But no more than to Simon Payne, who as Grand Prix winner, won his best ever prize by taking away the enviable glittering overall prize of a diamond, followed by Chris Rashley who won the sapphire for second, whilst Jason Belben finished third, a clear 11 points ahead of fourth placed Jason Russell.
A big thanks go to WHY Jewellers and Rod Harris, for sponsoring and organising a really well run and enjoyable event, assisted by the dedicated team from Parkstone YC.
Top 10 Overall:
1. Simon Payne
2. Chris Rashley
3. Jason Belben
4. Jason Russell
5. Alex Adams
6. Olivier Vidal
7. Mike Lennon
8. Doug Pybus
9. Richard Westbury
10. Tom Ollerenshaw