Recovered from last year’s nightmare of men in skirts, sixteen gallant Moth sailors and assorted family members braved long weekend traffic, school buses, miles of A30 roadworks, and, in one case, extreme boredom, making the (mostly) arduous journey to Fowey for the FOVIEY Sea Championship 2016. Once there, boats were rapidly rigged and left on the library lawn, so that there was nothing in the way of seeing old friends, eating well, and imbibing a few refreshing libations (which, as anyone acquainted with a Moth sailor knows, they are very good at).
Roll on daft o’clock Saturday, and one look at the harbour didn’t raise spirits. The mist was very low – you couldn’t see the Town Pier from the windows of the King of Prussia. By the time we made it to the boats, the mist had risen enough to see the estuary; it’s always a bonus to be able to see the Polruan ferry before it hits you. Roger Witts, the championship organiser, distributed lots and lots of Foviey-themed clothing – but who those very small ladies were for whom he had way too many t-shirts, nobody knew.
The morning kicked off with the mini-races, which helped blow out the last vestiges of Friday night’s conviviality. Colin Hall out-sailed Roger (second) and Mark Wiltshire (third) to take out the four-race series, before everyone moored up in front of Gallants for lunch. Everyone save one: she managed to capsize her boat by leaning over a little too far to attach her painter to the buoy. Both rescue boats were busy getting hordes of sailors to shore (sailing is thirsty work), so the Harbour Patrol boat came to her rescue – cue Elaine being hauled out of the water unceremoniously by her buoyancy aid.
Fed and watered, the Moths were back on the water for the first two official sea championship races. OOD John Burford’s course took the Moths through the middle of a large number of stationary boats, but clearly, in the first race, some sailors had let lunch go to their heads, as they mistook the ODM for the second mark, instead of the real mark buried in the forest of hulls. At least, that was their excuse. That, or the phone lines killed my burgee. The second race went largely without a hitch – except for Ann Widdows, who, with the aid of a fishing line tangled around her rudder, entertained the watching crowds with some spectacular backwards sailing.
With the day’s racing done, BBQ and Tosh at Gallants were the order of the day. The Moth sailors, with their usual enthusiasm, threw themselves lustily into the singing, even when the only words they knew were the first two lines of the chorus.
Sunday dawned (very early again! What the heck were they thinking?), and, with one of yesterday’s rescue crew indulging in a spot of kayaking, Toby was promoted to rescue boat duty for the day’s sailing.
Racing began with the inaugural Brown Willy races: a series of short races (with no course marks) up and down the Fowey River, enabling the back of the fleet sailors to get a taste of front of the fleet, if only for a little while – case in point: a senior moment by Roger gave Ann a third place in the first race, which pleased everyone, even Roger. Despite that senior moment, Roger prevailed, taking out the trophy ahead of Colin (second) and Gary Tompkins (third).
Thanks to Grumpies of Cornwall’s excellent pies (heated up admirably by Andy), everyone was ready for the next sea championship race. Or so they thought. Due to the possibility of non-Moth-like weather the following day (ie wind), the OOD decided the fleet would sail two races in the afternoon. The first race went well, but the wind died off in the second race, just as the boats were going around the seaward mark. Regardless, the Moths sailed on, using the opportunity to catch up on each other’s news.
End of racing Sunday. Four races sailed. Four different winners. The championship was wide open.
The Royal Fowey Yacht Club was host for Sunday evening’s entertainment. Good food, chilled drinks, applause, Mark and Roger colouring in at the children’s table, Toby trying his hardest not to listen in on the conversation on the adults’ table (and failing), paper aeroplane flying, conversation, laughter – it was the very model of a Moth championship dinner. Many thanks must go to RFYC for a fantastic meal.
Monday morning, and the estuary was basking in sunlight, with a fresh Moth-manageable breeze stirring up the water. The last race of the championship was on! Despite someone tampering with Roger’s halyard (it could have been fate, Roger), he sailed, courtesy of Simon Hall and Ghost Swift. The wind made conditions playful, aided and abetted by various yachts, water taxis, and the RNLI lifeboat. So playful, that Ann capped off her weekend of spectacular sailing by turtling at the seaward mark.
To mark the end of racing, all the residents of The Refuge held a ‘Pink & Pasta Party’. Presentations were made, pink was worn, and cheesy 80’s music was danced to. Oh, and Mark cooked up a storm. Andy Matthews was declared 2016 FOVIEY champion.
And the assorted family members? The sea championship wouldn’t be the same without them. Who else would create such amazing trophies for the winners? And with crabbing, paddling, and searching Fowey for tiny plastic sea creatures (and a penguin) in a number of Fowey shops, they were kept busy. They also got the best coloured caps and hoodies (lucky ducks!).
Next year is the sea championship’s seventh outing. Seven. 007.
The name is Moth. British Moth.