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Two Irish Moth Sailors Competing at UK Nationals in Weymouth

9th June 2023
Paris 2024 ILCA 7 trialist Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club competing at the UK Open Championship 2023 Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy
Paris 2024 ILCA 7 trialist Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club competing at the UK Open Championship 2023 Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy Credit: Mark Jardine

An Irish Olympic campaigner is one of two Irish International Moth sailors are competing at the UK Open Championship 2023 Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy that concludes on Friday. 

Paris 2024 ILCA 7 trialist Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club is lying 30th in the near 100-boat fleet, and Wexford Harbour's Ronan Wallace is three places ahead on 27th.

It’s not just the temperatures that are hotting up in the UK right now; the foiling Moths in Weymouth have once again taken it to the next level ahead of the 2023 World Championship.

Leading the charge is a young group of Kiwis from Manly Sailing Club, who have been pushing each other daily just a few kilometres north of Auckland, New Zealand. Jacob Pye and Mathias Coutts won four of the eight races held today, in their respective groups, and it’s Jacob who leads the UK Open overnight.

"I'm very happy. Put in a great performance today!" said Jacob after racing. "I have to put it down to the group I'm sailing and training with all the time, a great bunch from New Zealand. There's been a lot of testing and training up to this point and it's really starting to pay off. It's great to put good scores on the board. I did the Australian Nationals against Tom Burton a couple of months ago, and to come back and show I've made an improvement is a great feeling."

Mathias Coutts was similarly pleased with his day, despite being black-flagged in his first race: “Definitely pleased with my pace. Great breeze, great racing out there, and lots of competitive boats. I was really happy with my speed. We've had a good group of us back home who train up together and share lots of information. I think we've really made some good progress as a team."

Another member of the Manly Moth team is Jack Bennett, who put in three top-three results:

"It's great to have a good team [of Kiwis]. I’m pretty happy with the results today, for sure! We certainly try to work as much as we can as a team. It's a benefit having three boats out on the water most days. It's really handy having the boys together.

"I loved it when the breeze came in a little bit more. We could get some high speeds. I loved it! Great fun, good racing. I think I clocked 30 downwind today, which was pretty good."

There was a particularly proud dad out on the water in a RIB, who has done more than his fair share of winning on the water over the years, and is very happy to see the next generation of sailing superstars launch themselves onto the international stage…

"It's a great group of three 17 year olds - it's pretty cool to see!" said Russell Coutts. On his son Mathias he added, "He had a good day today. He's been struggling a bit lately, so it was good to see him get out there and do well today."

Jacob Pye may be happy to be leading Olympic gold medallist Tom Burton, but the Australian sailor is just two points behind him in the standings:

"It seemed like a long day. Four ace races in an awesome breeze, flat water, what more could you ask for really?!

"If I got off the line in the front pack I felt like I could sail away a little bit, but I made some little errors in the starts and didn't get off the first two that great and there are guys that are plenty quick enough to sail away when other people are in gas; not much you can do really!

"The course was super right-hand dominant, but you didn't want to go too far because of that big ship in the way - you could get into a massive lull just at the tacking point. It would lure you in, but you could make a big mistake there. I think I gave away maybe two in the races, on the last downwind, doing something stupid."

Tom was sporting a particularly fetching hat on the water which he recently picked up: "New hat, yeah! I got it in Garda this year for cycling. I figured I'd take the aerodynamics to the next level."

In fourth place overall is the USA’s Riley Gibbs who is taking some time out from his America’s Cup duties:

"Yeah, it was a good shakedown day. It's nice to get some time off work, with support from NYYC American Magic to be here, and we want to represent our team the best we can."

"Since sailing the big boat [AC75] and AC40s we don't get much time to go Moth sailing, as much fun as it is, and as much as we enjoy the competition with our team mates!"

"We had just enough time to go through all our equipment in the lead up to this event, so are taking this as a 'learn as we go' regatta, then looking forward to the Worlds."

"Unfortunately I got a little greedy on the right-hand side of the track, underneath that ship, and dropped a tack; it was my race over. It is tight; if you miss a shift you're out the back. It's great racing - really high level."

The wind could be up a notch on Friday, which may mix things up a bit. What’s clear is that there are far too many sailors racing at the top of their game to give anyone a ‘favourite’ tag. It’s anyone’s game, but whoever wins the International Moth UK Open will take a big confidence boost into the World Championship.

Event report by Mark Jardine

Race Results

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Published in Moth Team

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