Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kids and Classic Moths: Can it Happen Again?

Back in the Classic Moth heyday in the U.S., back in the 1960's when it wasn't the Classic Moth, just the Moth class and the U.S. was just another country sailing this 11' singlehander, the New Jersey fleet was primarily a junior class. Large fleets abounded around Philadelphia and on the Jersey shore. The Cates design reigned supreme and, though twitchy, was a hull design a junior could master. In the 1960's the Cates was readily available, parents could build a Cates or buy one from Blair Fletcher Marine. When the Moth class kept developing, as a restricted class is wont to do, when the narrow waterline Duflos showed up and wings were allowed, when the Laser showed up, all in the late 1960's, the bottom dropped out of the Moth as a junior class and the larger class collapsed. In the modern era, the International Moth class revived in the U.S. when the hydrofoils showed up (though, some might argue, at a semi-pro/pro level).

The Classic Moth class, which is the revival of the Moth singlehander of the 1960's, has had a good run of twenty eight years but the class is tending geriatric at this point and may disappear again in ten years unless there is some injection of younger blood. Joe Bousquet and Greg Duncan have made a continuing effort over the years to introduce young sailors but Joe Bousquet has redoubled his efforts this year. Joe is the coach of both the rowing team and sailing team of a small private high school and with the generous help of George Albaugh, is in the process of rehabbing three Classic Moths this winter with the intent to feed them to his young sailors for the 2018 season.

The landscape in modern junior sailing is much different from the 1960's. For established junior programs at established yacht clubs it is a set progression through the Opti, Laser Radial and then the 420. There are three strikes against the Classic Moth as a junior boat in the modern era. The Classic Moth is out of the mainstream, isn't a one-design, and doesn't have a builder. This is why the Classic Moth will never be considered by junior sailors from these high power programs.

Promoting the Classic Moth class as a parent/kid project either in building or refurbishing may be one avenue to attract more young participation. Zach Balluzo is a just graduated junior who has been sailing the Classic Moth Nationals the past couple of years in his own Moth. It appears his Dad has as much fun working on Zach's Classic Moth as Zach has fun racing them.

It will be interesting whether we find something that works in appealing to the youngsters. We shall see if something comes out of this renewed focus by the oldsters Classic Moth sailors on promoting the boat to juniors. A big Tip-of-the-Hat to Joe for giving us a kick in the butt to at least try.

Joe helping one of his junior sailors, Maggie McDonald, rig a Shelley at the 2017 Nationals. The is an ex George Albaugh's Shelley.


I just recently learned the history of this glass Shelley from George. It came over for the World Championship in the U.S (1968?). as a protective fiberglass exoskeleton for a exquisitely built British wood Shelley. At some point Joe decked this Shelley shell with the modern tub cockpit layout. I understand that after the regatta, Maggie actually bought "Say When."



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