Make your own free website on
Burnham Letter

From: Scott Sandell []
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2000 5:34 AM
To: John Burnham;
Subject: The U.S. Modern Moth Class

Dear John,

Last summer Mike Tamulaites started a piece on the Moth class for your magazine. I don't know what happened to his piece, but Mike moved on to the sales force. I think you may be interested in the developments happening in our class this year.

Over the winter I commissioned Bob Ames to design a new boat for the U.S Modern Moth class. Based on Bob's experience with the International 14 (another development class), and the fact he was working on the new Vanguard Skiff, he was clearly the man for the job. The cutting edge UK and Aussie boats are not really the best thing over here. Last year at the U.S. nationals in Brigantine, New Jersey the top three boats were actually wide skiffs (1st Joe Bousquet, 2nd myself, and 3rd Chris Hart), trouncing guys like Int. Canoe champ Bill Beaver in his 9" wide Skippy II, and Rod Mincher in his state-of-the-art scow Moth. In the U.S. we sail shorter college style courses, with a lot of tacking. The super narrow boats with zero rocker do not go well in these situations, not to mention the fact that the U.S. Mothists carry around a few more pounds than our British and Aussie friends.

Bob designed the Ames I for a bigger pilot sailing these shorter courses. He explained to me at great length that most people don't realise the boat has to be designed to go sideways as well as forward (the pencil thin narrow boats drive really fast forward but HATE to turn). Sailing my "Mistral" design, a deep veed hull shape that actually looks like a traditional dinghy from above (but weighs just 55 lbs), I could always gain big time on the tacks. But once the wind really came up the narrow boats have better than 505 speed. Up wind, down wind, it doesn't matter. Bob took the front end from the narrow skiffs and mixed it with cutting edge built in wings, eliminating the need for the space frame rack (and its problems). Here are the results.

After spending hours bent over the lines, I knew this project was over my head. I had Bob draw a second boat (the Ames II, a rack style hull, which I am building now), and I enlisted Patrick Mack from Premier Boatworks (). Patrick worked for years with Mark Lindsay, and built the fastest 505s, FDs, and amazing blades. The wing structure on the Ames II requires some composite finesse, and Patrick can do it. P.S. he has his own design for the Moth which is really cool.

It was my hope that I could get a number of designers to take a stab at the class. Paul Lindenberg has a beautiful new hull out. And I asked Vlad Murnikov to try as well (Vlad said sure as long as we let him use his asymetric chute, needless to say it didn't fly with my fellow Mothists). Others are invited, and rules can be seen on our web site : (click on the U.S. Modern Moth side).

The class is growing with a new fleet in Sag Harbor, New York, where mostly junior sailors have built their own boats, and now sport the "junior" sail plan. It's no Opti. A "Mistral" design Moth doesn't stand up by itself in the water (very tippy). Typical hull weights for a Mistral are @65 lbs, or HALF the weight of a Laser. The full tall rig is 84 sq. ft. of fully battened, camber induced, kevlar wing, and the junior rig is a four full battened, roachy, 70 sq.ft. sail. It makes a Laser look like a "tactical" boat (which is what the local JY sailors tell me about their 300 lb. behemoths). The Moths are cool boats, but they don't appeal to everybody. You have to be quick, limber, in great shape, and a good swimmer. Check it out!


Scott Sandell, president U.S. Modern Moth Class

P.S. Check out the Moth nationals in Brigantine this year June 17. One day due to the short life of duct tape, or as we call it; chrome.