Ninja 1-2

Victory for Chris Rashley at th Marlow Moth Grand Prix and Inland Championships

Monday March 28th 2011, Author: Simon Reynolds, Location: United Kingdom

The first Moth Grand Prix of the season kicked off at Queen Mary reservoir over 26-27 March, with 20 Moths arriving to see a flat calm lake. However, smiles were put soon put back on the faces of those who rigged after a slight delay in proceedings, to what was developing into a building breeze, which saw Race 1 go off in every Moth sailors dream of 10 knots and dead flat water.

Race 1 saw a clean start, but with a dominant port hand line bias, which saw the whole fleet head left up first windward. Ben Paton (Kingfisher / Harken) and Chris Rashley took advantage of this and were 1st to bear away onto the foils, an early tack out by Tom Offer (Gul) and then Rashley took them to more breeze which headed nearer the top mark. Although Paton sailed to the short lay-lines all three rounded in quick succession follwed by Gareth Davies and Sam Tozer.

With five laps and relatively short downwind legs, holding people ahead out for the gybe proved to be a key tactic to get right, which paid off for some. Over the proceeding laps Rashley, Offer, Paton, and Davies all swapped turns for the lead, but Rashley held clear for the chequred flag, and all finished within 15 secs of each other.

Race 2 started in 12-14 knots with everyone hitting the left hard on starboard, but went out right on subsequent laps to minimise tacks, hoping to get the lift coming into the top mark. Judgement of this was key, as being close to the bank it meant extra tacks for those who lost height and pretty regular gear adjustments to maximise power. Rashley lead around the top mark, and with good gusts streaming down the course, this gave early gybe benefits and place changes a plenty.

Paton got in front downwind by sailing a shorter layline, yet with James Phare (MAN Group) and Offer close on his tail. Offer, Paton, and Rashley continued to challenge for position, with Paton nudging Offer out to take 2nd behind Rashley, with all finishing within 5 - 10 seconds of each other. James Phare held Mike Cooke (Aardvark Technologies) out to claim 4th, and custom-wand yoda, Phil Oligario, put in a polished performance to nail a 6th just ahead of an improving Leigh Albrecht.

Race 3 started in champagne mothing conditions of sunshine with breeze peaking at 16 knots, which saw Paton and Gareth Davies duck through the line for a port tack start in order to get to the favourable right hand side for the shorter leg to the top mark. The move came unstuck as they got headed coming in an the starboard layline, as those on port got lifted. Offer overstood, whereas local James Phare got it spot on, and rounded first, with Paton going round in 3rd.

At the leeward mark it was Offer, Paton and Rashley again. On the windward work the Ninja designs were just ahead, until Paton fluffed a tack, and Rashley suffered a shuffle from the wind gods and got headed badly coming into the mark, which resulted in a two extra tack beat for him on the last lap. All three remained close until Offer got an inside line downwind holding Chris Rashley out, but Rashley caught a breezy travelator which allowed him to break free, which saw both gybe together and drag race it to finish with Rashley nailing it by half a boat length. Davies chased Phare hard, but couldn’t get by, leaving Phare to grab 4th.

The overnight standings saw Chris Rashley lead with three bullets, and Ben Paton and Tom Offer at 2nd and 3rd, with one point between them.

Sunday dawned sunny to a light 4 knots, and with the hopes of a building breeze, Race 4 kicked off at 11.00am, yet in marginal foiling conditions which were to prove a challenge to those hoping to get themselves up into the chocolates at the end of the day. One of those, Mike Cooke, riding his new Ninja, showed the fleet his bones were filled with helium, rising up early on his new skinny foils to finish with several minutes to spare, leaving those who were still carrying most of last nights curry battling in the numerous holes, making it a frustrating game of snakes and ladders. Ben Paton managed to hook into a diminishing line of pressure on the last downwind to squeeze from 4th to 2nd past Rashley, Davies and Offer.

For Races 5 & 6 the fat lady sang, and with it the wind duly died. This left Chris Rashley a worthy overall winner and 2011 Inland Champion, finishing just one point ahead of ben Paton.

Top 10 places overall:

1 Chris Rashley Royal London YC
2 Ben Paton Royal Lymington
3 Tom Offer Rock SC
4 Gareth Davies Stone SC
5 James Phare Queen Mary SC
6 Sam Tozer Queen Mary SC
7 Mike Cooke Bristol Corinthian YC
8 Alex Koukourakis Eastbourne Soverign SC
9 Leigh Albrecht Queen Mary SC
10 Phil Oligario Hayling Island SC

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