Chris Rashley (Southampton, England) celebrated his 27th birthday today by winning Races 4 and 5 at the Amlin International Moth Regatta in Bermuda.
Rashley (above) overcame strong winds and near-blinding conditions, punctuated by a squall with gusts topping 30 knots, to take over the lead of the $10,000 regatta.
“David (Campbell-James, the principal race officer) made an excellent decision to go out today,” said Rashley. “There were a lot of hesitant people and at times you couldn’t see because the rain was in your eyes, but we started on time and the racing was proper.”
Tomorrow Rashley will wear the yellow bib recognizing the overall leader at the regatta. After today’s victories Rashley is tied with Day 1 leader Rob Greenhalgh of the U.K. with 7 points, but owns the tiebreak advantage because he won the last race sailed. (With five races completed, the regatta now discards each competitor’s worst score.)
“I had a good day,” said Greenhalgh, who finished 3-2. “But Rashley’s just too strong in those conditions.”
With the wind blowing 18 to 24 knots as the fleet sailed to the racecourse on Great Sound some never even made it to the first start. By the end of the day at least half a dozen boats were brought back to shore on RIBs after suffering broken masts. Others suffered breakdowns that included broken booms, tillers and tiller extensions and other controls such as boom vangs and cunninghams.
“The thing with these boats is that we have all the control lines in front of us, so if you pitch pole (capsize over the bow) you tend to take that stuff with you as you fly out of the boat,” said Tom Offer of the U.K., who is placed 16th overall after enduring such an incident. “It was on the edge today.”
The strong winds resulted in some blistering speeds for those who could handle the conditions.
“I crossed the finish line doing 28.8 knots,” said Benoit Marie of France in his heavy accent. “I think I was doing over 30 knots at some points, but I wasn’t able to look at the speedo all day, you know? It was crazy.
“But I feel good about today,” Marie said of his 23-20, which has him placed 15th overall. “At the beginning of the year I couldn’t sail in these conditions. But I’ve made some adjustments and am very happy with how I went today.”
Rashley said he was doing 28 to 30 knots on the runs, but had to slow down to 22 to 25 knots approaching the leeward gate to keep in control. The runner-up at last summer’s European Championship and the 2014 Worlds, Rashley is one of the class’s all-time tinkerers, developing sails, masts and foils to near perfection over the past five years.
Before coming to Bermuda last week for practice he fashioned a new paddle for the wand that controls the height of the Moth on its hydrofoils. Hoping to make a paddle that doesn’t bounce off the water too much, which would lessen the movement of the flap on the main foil and provide a steadier ride, he had a paddle fashioned from a 3D printer that was painted bright pink. During a windy practice day, it suddenly went missing.
“I was sailing upwind and doing 16 to 20 knots last week when a fish bit the paddle right off the wand,” said Rashley. “I’m not a fisherman and don’t know anything about fish, but I’m told it was a barracuda. The paddle’s a tiny thing, but that’s what the class is about now. Everything else is so well developed.”
The Amlin International Moth Regatta is sponsored by Amlin plc, a FTSE 250-listed independent global insurer and reinsurer with operations in the Lloyd’s, UK, continental European and Bermudian markets. Additional sponsors include the Bermuda Tourism Authority, EFG International, Gosling’s, the Official Rum of the Regatta, and Kaenon Polarized.
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS (after 5 races, with one discard)
1. Chris Rashley (GBR) (4)-2-3-1-1 – 7 points
2. Rob Greenhalgh (GBR) 1-(4)-1-3-2 – 7
3. Simon Hisccocks (GBR) 3-8-(59/DNF)-2-3 – 16
4. Chris Draper (SoftBank Team Japan) 5-1-(7)-4-7 – 17
5. Paul Goodison (Artemis Racing) 2-3-2-(13)-10 – 17
6. Kyle Langford (ORACLE Team USA) 6-(16)-4-9-5 – 24
7. Ben Paton (GBR) 7-7-8-(12)-4 – 26
8. Jason Belben (GBR) (13)-5-11-5-8 – 29
9. Anthony Kotoun (ISV) 8-(19)-12-7-6 – 33
10. Victor Diaz de Leon (VEN) 16-6-6-(21)-12 – 40
(For a complete list of results, please click here.)