Moths on the water

Perth is hosting the 2019 World Championships

Image supplied by WA Moth Fleet

Perth is hosting the 2019 World Championships

Connor Mallis, Reporter

If you were fortunate enough to have been by the Swan River this summer you may have noticed Moths zooming across the water.

These Moths aren’t the ones that hang around light bulbs and get people shrieking though. They are a type of small sailing boat.

A typical Moth is an 11 foot long, 30kg carbon fibre hyrdrofoiling toy which spends more time above the water than in it.

You may have seen a swarm of these Moths as they can be in a group of anywhere between 5 and 200+ boats.

Moths are a sailing class that was created when the rules of the class were written in the 1920s, but they’re open to interpretation.

Nick Deussen, a sailor from WA Moth Fleet, said, “The boats are terrifically exciting to sail, with speeds of up (and past!) 30 knots (55 kph)”.

The speeds are achieved when the lifting hydrofoils on the daggerboard and rudder are added. Doing this lifts the entire hull and skipper above the water surface, reducing the amount of drag and increasing the speed of the Moth.

Being a Moth sailor is similar to being a horse jockey: being as light as possible is an advantage but you still need to be strong enough to control the beast.

To be competitive, the ideal weight range is 60-90kg, with the winners most often being in the 75-85kg range.

Mothing isn’t just unique to Australia, they are being sailed all around the world in places like Argentina, Ireland, Japan, Germany, and the United States. Moth class boats are also sailed in Bermuda, Chile, Peoples Republic of China, Singapore, Thailand, Venezuela, Virgin Islands, and the list is continuing to grow.

Although they’re one of the smallest boats to sail, Duessen said, “They are one of the fastest boats around a racecourse in the world. The races are only around 20 minutes long, but are a full body workout, often with four short races per day.”

With interest in the class growing, Western Australia will host the World Championships at Mounts Bay Sailing Club on the Swan River in November 2019, where the wind from the Fremantle Doctor and flat water is expected to attract about 200 sailors from around the world.

Matthew Jahn from Mounts Bay Sailing Club said in a statement that he is excited to be hosting the big event.

“Mounts Bay Sailing Club is honoured to be hosting the 2019 Moth World Championships. The calibre of sailors that this event will attract is world class. Olympic medalists, America’s Cup sailors and elite high-performance sailors will mix with the best amateurs in the world.

“Mounts Bay Sailing Club was the birthplace of the foiling moth and the regatta will be the 20 year anniversary of that cornerstone yachting development. This is an event that will be shared and enjoyed by the WA sailing community and with a large online audience following the class, it will be a great showcase for Perth tourism.”

The most recent championships that were held in Lake Garda, Italy, and hosted around 240 sailors, five of them being West Aussies. Australians make up one third of the world’s moth fleets and the are among the strongest in competitions.

Age isn’t a huge factor in the competitions, with ages between 16 and 60 competing.

Duessen said, “The hydrofoils are the standout reason why people sail these boats and have inspired other classes around the world to try them out like the America’s Cup Class and the emergent Superfoiler series.

“The boats are lightweight and easy to break down, allowing sailors to pack the boats up into boxes and send them by plane around the world to compete.”

So next time you’re on or near the Swan River, keep an eye out for these small yet impressive boats.

Or, if you are more interesting in getting hands on experience, Deussen said: “Get in touch, reach out to us at the WA Moth Fleet Facebook page and we’ll be happy to help you out with the next step or come down to say hello if you ever see us on the beach. Or simply just #getamoth and join us on the water!”