Make your own free website on
Moth Balls 11/1/2000
by Scott Sandell

Asymmetrical Chutes
For a couple years people have been e-mailing me about the possibility of adding an asymmetrical spinnaker to the U.S. Modern Moth. The idea was just an idea until recently when there have been several developments on the issue. The last issue of e-MOTHBALLS asked active boat owners to vote on the idea of adding an asymmetric. Voting to date has the chute with an 80% favorable response.

Those of you who have been following the class know that the IMCA style narrow boats have not really taken off here in the U.S. (as much as some of us have tried!). There are only a few active narrow skiffs, with most skippers opting for wide rides, many of which are convertible to "Classic Moths" with a simple at-home rig lobotomy kit. I won't attempt to open the door as to why this is happening, however the fact remains that it is. With this as a given, how can the class compete with hot little boats like the MX-Ray which are very interesting to young sailors? Or, if you don't care about building the class, you may simply ask how can we make the boat more exciting without building extremely narrow hulls? The answer might be an asymmetric spinnaker.

If you are wondering how you are going to handle the extra lines, or how much it will complicate the boat, just take a look at the International Canoe Class. Here is a narrow boat with a main and a jib, a sliding seat, and now an asymmetrical chute! The movement for the additional adrenaline rush started in England, and although it met with some resistance in the U.S., you can now find one on Canoe Class national champion Bill Beaver's boat. Although Bill has been reluctant to acknowledge the fact, the boat is reportedly devastatingly fast, and has annihilated the Annapolis 505 fleet repeatedly in the Tuesday night series.

Actual results may vary, but there is no argument about the increased speed potential using the asymmetric on the wide skiff Moth. Consider the details

We had sailmaker Kevin Farrar design the spinnaker program for the Moth. The basic outline has the chute being flown off a four foot long retractable bow sprit (easily built from aluminum or carbon fiber, and retrofitable on extant boats). The luff length of the sail will be 16 1/2', with the hoist about 14' above the deck. The foot of the sail will be 10' 4", and trim from the aft cockpit bulkhead on a Mistral. For launching and dousing there would be a chute launcher on the foredeck (molded glass Laser II launching tubes are available from Vanguard, and could easily be adapted). The body of the sail would slide into a dacron sleeve extending aft from the launching tube, through the front tank. One continuous line would pull the sail up and back down. Modifications could be easily made to existing wide skiffs and scows. Duct tape will cover the launching tube at a "Classic Moth" regatta, and the sprit would be easily removable. Those of you building new boats over the winter may want to consider concave foredecks like the 49er, or MX Ray, with launching appendages extending above the deck.

Off wind with the chute up your sail area would be doubled. What will the wild ride cost you? Kevin Farrar has quoted us $439. per sail when ordered in groups of three or more. A single order will set you back $548. The price includes a color preference, corner grommets, and a midnight blue sail bag. Unlike the MX-Ray chute, which is considerably smaller, these sails would be made one at a time, with Dimension or Bainbridge 3/4 oz. nylon. The nature of the asymmetric chute, and its loading pattern, demands a tri-radial design, which is what the Farrar sails would be. If approved, you could, of course, order you sail from any sailmaker. My guess is that you wouldn't find one less expensive, however another design (within the designated dimensions) is always welcomed.

I would like to propose that we allow the chute on a demonstration level in 2001, and unless there are problems we didn't anticipate, make it race legal in 2002 at the nationals. A decision needs to be made quickly here so that we can capitalize on the slow time of the year at the participating sailmakers, and assure there will be sails available for next season. If you are opposed to the chute you need to voice your opinion via e-mail before 11/15/2000 when we will take a final vote. Remember, if you don't vote we have no idea what you are thinking, and will assume you agree with the idea.

SEX, LIES, and 3/4oz. NYLON!
by Joe Bousquet

Asymmetricals on wide skiffs? The concept certainly isn't unique. The MX-Ray is basically a moth with an asymmetrical chute. Compare the specs on the MX-Ray with one of our typical (?) wide skiff moths. The numbers are interesting:

MX-RAY Class/Modern Moth
BMAX5'5' / 7'4"
Weight115lbs75lbs / 60lbs
Main84 SqFt72 / 85 SqFt
Spin78 SqFtn/a

Why the comparison? At the Meet in St Pete regatta in 1998 there were a couple of MX-Rays that came out and played with the moths. Conditions were 10-14 knots, enough for all the boats to plane off the wind. The MX-Rays were slightly faster off the wind and the moths were slightly faster upwind. I was sailing my mistral Try-Umph with a 72. sq ft low rig. My guess is that if I had a fully battened tall rig I would be as fast as the MX-Rays off the wind. The over-riding impression I had was that the boat was "neat" but weighed far too much to be in the same league as a moth. Would any of our moth skippers like to sail around with a 40-55 pound bag of sand in the bilge?

Now, picture the same asymmetrical set-up on a hull that is 40-55 pounds lighter. The boat would be a real handful and if kept upright, blazingly fast. Of course there would be added windage upwind in the form of a halyard and a sprit. And when the inevitable capsize would occur, the wet nylon in, around, and hopefully not under the boat would present a challenge. I'm not sure the trade-off is worthwhile. I would like to see someone give it a try, but they would have to sail against a real lightweight skiff.

The ultra-narrow axeman type of skiff is unsuitable for an asymmetrical.

The best hull shape is similar to the MX-Ray: narrow with flared gunwalesand flat aft with a definite wedge shape. The early Magnum designs would be suitable, as would the Ames moth. The key would be to achieve a reasonable amount of stability from the hull form so that the skipper could deal with the setting and dousing of the chute without an inordinate fear of going swimming. The boat's forte would necessarily be sailing off the wind. Sailing upwind would be a price that had to be paid to enjoy the reaches (sounds like a windsurfing short board, doesn't it?).

An intermediate step would be to build a real lightweight wide skiff. The Magnum III mold is available and with modern foam/epoxy/carbon/vacuum techniques, I'm sure a very light weight hull could be produced. When Richard Wallio and I last layed up a hull from the mold in 1977 we used polyester resin, fiberglass matte and cloth, Klegecell foam (held down with sandbags over plastic sheeting), and the required plywood bulkheads and floor. Using aluminum tube wings the completed hull weighed 55 pounds. My guess is that 40 pounds is within reach. If someone were to build a 40 pound wide moth, and sail with a tall rig at Brigantine, my winning streak would be over. Than we could talk about adding an asymmetrical.

What Would Captain van Sant Say ?
by George Albaugh

I'm not sure politicking for or against the chute is really necessary. If a clear majority are for it, then it's their bed. They get to sleep in it. However, it seems to me that the results from Brigantine indicate that most of the modern sailors are struggling enough with the technology at hand, let alone more sail power. And all this for a boat that gets raced once a year? Further, to paraphrase Russ Post, the Aussie rig is interesting, but it's not a Moth boat- it's an entirely different class. Adding a chute to the tall rig gives you yet another class. How many variations on the theme can one idea support?

If I wanted more complication I'd probably go for a Canoe. The longer waterline will support us big beefy guys that are attempting to thrash about in Moths. I doubt that a Moth with a chute would have the same speed as a Canoe. Besides, the Canoe has the cache of history-Uffa sailed one, etc. Having said all that, Bill Beaver struggles to get Canoes out on the regatta circuit. The boats are too much of a hassle. I think as far as the modern Moth is concerned, you should encourage fresh thinking that will best grow the class for the long term, not just for today. I'm unconvinced that a chute, or foils for that matter, is that type of fresh thinking. Ideas like the T-foil rudder, foam in the wings, which attempt to make the narrow boats more sailable, will put more sailors on the water. A fun, fast boat is a much easier sell than one that offers uncontrollable speed and frustration. Middle aged males are very poor at dealing with public humiliation. They get enough of that at home!

I Canít Speak For Captain Van Sant
by Greg Allen

But look what he did! He fired the sailing mind and sparked the imagination. He sent innovation in motion and look how far it has gone. Who are we to stop it now. The CMBA will certainly preserve the past with the Vintage and Classic Moth, and the International Folks will carry the 7í4Ē 85 SqFt rocket to itís limit. But there is more uncharted territory to explore.

Proposal: Outlaw Moth 11í Monohull - no other limits

Classics, Moderns, and Imoths can compete, add a chute, do what you like The only limits are the sailorís ability and the laws of physics as we currently understand them. Success, as always, will be measured by success at the finish line and the quality of members attracted to the class.

Add a chute and make it a rule? MX-Ray and Cherub beat you to that one. Dave Ellis and I have pictures of a fiberglass Cates we built the summer of '69 with a bow sprint, 35 SqFt Chute and a trapeze tearing up Seal Beach Harbor. Big Deal!!

I canít speak for Captain Van Sant, but he didnít create no ďMe TooĒ class.

Outlaw Moth will certainly fire the sailing mind and spark the imagination for generations to come.

Sag Harbor Fleet Championships!

Five modern boats hit the still warm waters of Sag Harbor on October 8th. This event was originally scheduled to be the North American Championships, but was changed when much of the class balked at the drive and the season. Pressing on regardless, the local fleet did sail five races in near perfect Moth conditions (aside from it being 42 degrees).

Scott Sandell's new modified Mistral "Temporary North of Mines" won the first race by an entire leg. Making the boat narrow in the front, and placing the mast step and centerboard much further aft appears to work. What didn't work was capsizing the boat in large waves to help his son Per right his boat. After Per was back at the helm in "Sour Apple" , the waves had driven the mast of Sandell's boat into the bottom, causing compression on the deck at an unusual angle. The compression cracked the deck open, and the hull filled with water.

While the Sandells were swimming, Matt Bidwell showed us that he has a firm grip on "Orbit Zero" and won race number two. Ben Miller was just behind Matt, and Ben's mother Shirley Ruch was steaming along behind Ben at the helm of the boat formerly known as "Hey, Caravaggio, Tennis?". After a short break, Per Sandell gave the keys to his Dad, and opted for the relative warmth of a five gallon coffee pot. Three very close races followed with Sandell winning, Bidwell second, and Ben Miller third. Shirley Ruch is the 2000 women's champion, showing that not only is she fast at the helm, but she can also sail out of a capsize with blistering speed.

Farrar Sails 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sag Harbor Fleet Championship
1st and 2nd U.S. Junior Nationals
State of the Art Pocket Luff Designs!
Contact Kevin Farrar at 860-447-0382
6 Union St., New London, Ct. 06320
"All our sails measure in, and they come with bags"

From The President

As the 2001 season stares us in the face I think we need to make a number of important decisions. Will we incorporate the asymmetrical chute? Will we see each other more than once a year? Will we decide to join IMCA or blow it off in favor of the wide skiffs that seem to win all the regattas anyway?

Any suggestions as to how the class should be structured in 2001 are welcomed, as are ideas on how to get more sailors interested in the class. One thing we need is a clear definition as to what the class is. We need our own rules, not just IMCA rules which will soon be obsolete if the chute is finalized. Maybe one major regatta a year is all the class members want? And while we are on the subject, exactly who is a member? So few of you sent in your 2000-2001 dues that it was laughable. The checks that did come in were not cashed, and because of this we could not produce a 2000 nationals T-shirt, or even print this issue on paper and mail it out. We need to do something new for 2001 or the Modern Moth Moment will evaporate.

The class has been invited to race in St. Pete with the Classic Moths at their mid-winters. Anybody interested? It's warm, it's well run, and always well attended. Participation at events like this will give us needed exposure, and develop interest.

One thing that is a must for the class is a professional builder who can sell an off the shelf, competitive boat for a reasonable price. Anyone who is willing to undertake this endeavor will have the full support of the class.

Please e-mail your thoughts for 2001 to , and we will attempt to have an on-going discussion of these important issues over the winter. The issue of the chute needs to be resolved soon. Pro, or Con, November 15 is the deadline for the FINAL vote. If you don't vote, you may not be happy about the results. We will count all votes of boat owners (including those with boats in progress), and all those who attended the nationals and/or the Sag Harbor fleet championships. I look forward to seeing you at Brigantine in June.

Cheers, Scott Sandell

Mark Thorpe
3 Kenna Place, Cromer. N.S.W. 2098
Telephone/Fax (612) 9972 3277



Complete sail away boats fully tuned
Boats built and rigged to customers own specifications
Partially finished hulls
Carbon/glass and glass hulls available

All orders require 40% deposit on placement of order
All orders must be paid in full before leaving