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Bob Espey & Matt McGovern To Sail Waszps Across the Irish Sea & Back

26th January 2022
Bob Espey (left) and Matt McGovern will attempt a return cross channel crossing in two foiling Waszp dinghies
Bob Espey (left) and Matt McGovern will attempt a return cross channel crossing in two foiling Waszp dinghies

Bob Espey is a long-time sailor at Ballyholme Yacht Club having raced Lasers, 49ers and RS400s, he now owns a Waszp dinghy. A ‘bonkers’ plan is what he has called his standout fundraising effort for little Jodi Tomalin who has, along with his parents Jeremy and Lisa been through the mill for most of 2021. A year ago Jodi was diagnosed with cancer.

Bob explains “To help raise money for the three charities who supported them through this I’ve come up with a plan of trying to sail a hydrofoiling dinghy (Waszp) across the Irish Sea and back. And so as not to be lonely, I’ve roped in my brother-in-law Matt McGovern (49er Olympian) to accompany me in his own Waszp. It’s about 20 miles from Ballyholme to Portpatrick on the Ayrshire coast across the North Channel and of course the date, which is most likely to be in March, is weather dependent. Bob estimates a time of 3 to 4 hours nonstop and, for their wives reassurance, amongst other reasons, they will be accompanied by safety boats.

Bob continues “A trip like this has never been attempted in a hydrofoiling dinghy and I’ve no doubt it will be a big challenge. I hope you will get behind us to say, “Buzz off to cancer” and hopefully we can raise some money for three very worthy charities – The Cancer Fund for Children, the Children’s Cancer Unit and Angel Wishes”.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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Waszp sailing

The Waszp project was conceived in 2010 by Andrew McDougall, designer of the world-beating Mach 2 foiling Moth. 

The Waszp was created as a strict one-design foiler, where, as the class says “the true test when raced is between crews and not boats and equipment”.

The objective of the class rules is to ensure that this concept is maintained. Keeping possible modifications to a minimum ensures fair racing across the fleet, helps to reduce the overall cost to the sailor and reduces the amount of time in the workshop. 

The popularity of the WASZP has proven that the boat and the concept work. In October 2021, 1237 boats had been sold to over 45 countries. 

The top speed recorded on the foiling dinghy is 26.7 knots. 

60-95kgs+ is a weight range competitive across varied conditions with rigs knowns as ‘8.2’ and ‘6.9’.

The cost of a Moth dinghy in Europe is €14,400 inc VAT + shipping according to the manufacturers in October 2021.

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