It’s been a busy summer at Aardvark HQ. We’ve been knocking out Ninjas as fast as we can manage and have plenty on the books going forward. If you are after a new Moth to take on the world, you’d better get in touch fast before we’re all booked up!
Jason Belben sailed his Ninja to 10th place at the recent Moth Euros in Switzerland, with a couple of top 5 positions during the event. Mike Cooke and Ben Paton both featured in the top 20. Both sailors spent very little time on the water before the event, suggesting that good things are to come next season.
I’ve now had a couple of weeks to mull over the trip to Switzerland and I was hoping hindsight might make it feel a bit rosier but unfortunately I still hate the place!
The sailing itself was actually not too bad and although I struggled to figure the place out it was a nice bit of water to go for a plod around. Unfortunately that was marred by too many boats in too small a space, combined with some lunatic course ideas. The Swiss interpretation of the grand-prix finishing system left much to be desired with many people not getting proper finishes or positions. The split gate at the bottom was too close together and one single Moth on its side in the middle pretty much closed the thing out which, led to quite a few wipeouts and one very scary incident that resulted in one of the first protests I can remember at a Moth event – a Rule 69 no less. It also shouldn’t take 8 marks to set a windward/leeward!
The event looked great to pretty much everyone that wasn’t there and they did an excellent job in getting the publicity out and to a high standard. I believe the event suffered from a lack of attention elsewhere. Where were the socials? One trip up a mountain for an overpriced school dinner barely qualifies and the event tent was pretty much wholely wasted serving overpriced bowls of pasta and little else. Bearing in mind there was little else to do within a 10 mile radius it should have been the hub of the whole thing…
The money. I knew this place was going to be expensive but we were stung for absolutely everything. 5chf for a jug of tap water, 5 chf to have your pizza cut so you can share it, £50 to have a boat measured, £30 to have a sail measured, road tax on your car, road tax on your trailer, £20+ for a pizza? Seriously? Steak was out of the question, much to Rod’s disappointment!
I came away from the whole thing feeling shortchanged (figuratively and literally). I started the week well but made a poor equipment call and lost a race (went to change sails only to have the previously slow race committee turn us around very quickly). I lost another 2 races following a monster wipeout where I damaged the gantry attachment. This left me counting a DNS in my final score, which put me in the low teens rather than top dozen. I also had a pretty successful mental meltdown on the final day despite having tons of pace and put in two shockers, making mistakes left and right, and wasn’t helped by being put in on the start by Rob Gough – one of the few times I was actually anywhere near the line!
I’ve obviously got a lot to work on, but the boat doesn’t seem to be one of them. I can’t get off a start line to save my life (I haven’t sailed in a fleet that big since the early 90s!), my boat handling is all over the place and tactics non-existent. What was good was that when I was near the front I could stay there, providing I didn’t do anything stupid!
In the rest of camp Ninja, Jason Belben finished in 10th and definitely showed pace around the course. Ben Paton proved himself to be one to watch in the future, almost breaking into the top ten on the last day after only 4 months in the boat. He rides high and fast and isn’t afraid to take risks. The boy is quick!
I’m pretty confident that the best sailors won in Switzerland, rather than the best boats, and Team Ninja are going to step up next season – next stop Travemunde!