Matt Struble wins Moth US Nationals

Published on March 4th, 2018

The 2018 Moth US National Championship returned March 2-4 to the Upper Keys Sailing Club in sunny Key Largo, Florida, this time bearing the “Ladd Lewis Memorial Regatta” name, in honor of the late Ladd Lewis, the legendary supporter of the club and big fan of the moth fleet.

Sixteen entrants made the field which included two class world champions (Bora Gulari and Paul Goodison), defending national champ Brooks Reed, defending North American champ Matt Struble, a handful of America’s Cup sailors, Olympians, plus a good number of weekend warriors and class newcomers.

Racing got underway Friday with the breeze up… a bit too up requiring a shore postponement for a few hours. By 2:30, it was up to about 12-14 kts and the RC cranked out race after race to end up with five on the first day.

The first four were generally prime Moth conditions and just before the fifth one, a small squall rolled in, jacking breeze up into the mid teens with higher gusts. The fleet held it together for the most part and made it back to the beach in time for happy hour.

The racing was ultra competitive all day with three different boats claiming bullets over the five races (Goodison, Struble and Gulari) and by the end of the day, Goodison sat in first followed by Struble and then Gulari.

Day two was simply a champagne day. With warm sun, perfect 12ish knots of breeze and a noon start, the RC was able to crank out six awesome races and again it was competitive up and down the fleet with Goodison and Struble both claiming bullets on the day and eight different boats making appearances in the top five.

When the dust settled on day two, Goodison (Exocet) remained in first, still followed by Struble (Mach2) and Volvo Ocean Race / Oracle Racing vet, Rome Kirby (Exocet) moved up into third with Anthony Kotoun (Mach2) and Bora Gulari (Exocet) rounding out the top five.

That evening it was discovered a rather large snafu with the shipping container to Bermuda, scheduled to load up the next day, had been uncovered. In short, the container was no longer going to be an option for getting the Moths to Bermuda in time for the Worlds later in the month. Two separate new shipping plans were formed and unfortunately one of the plans meant that six of the boats were going to be missing the final day of racing so that they could be transported up the coast to New Jersey to meet a new ship to make the jump to Bermuda.

Sunday morning, the remaining racers arrived to a bay full of whitecaps. It was a big breeze morning and views were mixed among the fleet with some hoping it would lay down and others hoping it hold up until the 11:00 am start. Those hoping it would lay down got their wish and by race time, it was a beautiful 11-12 knots with BIG shifts, puffs and lulls arranged all over the course.

Though there were fewer boats racing, the racing itself was just as exciting, with tons of lead changes and “it’s never over” type of theme with boats making big gains and taking big losses in the shifty conditions. Kotoun and Struble each took home some bullets on the day.

Eventually it was time to wrap things up and when the final scores were tallied, Matt Struble (San Diego, CA) won overall in his Mach2, followed by Anthony Kotoun (Newport, RI) also on a Mach2 and Paul Goodison (GBR) landed in 3rd in his Exocet. Brooks Reed (San Francisco, CA) in a Mach2 and Rome Kirby (Newport, RI) in a Exocet rounded out the top five.

Struble was given the traditional double shot of tequila as his first place award with Kotoun taking home a “silver bullet” Coors Light and Reed accepting a bronze-ish Yuengling (as the third American finisher). Awards were given out by Ladd Lewis’ wife Brenda, who is instrumental in supporting this event year after year.

Source: Seth Siegler

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