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Moth Worlds: Flight Paths

Reclaiming a world championship title in paradise requires careful preparation, mental discipline, and the ability to embrace a good omen when you see one.

February 18, 2014

I’m borderline late to the start of the practice race for the 2013 Moth Worlds on Kaneohe Bay, in Hawaii. I nail my tack to the committee boat layline, taking its stern as the prep flag comes down. I check the course, tack around the weather side of the boat, dip the line, and head straight to the pin on the foils. Only one other boat is flying: past world champ Nathan Outteridge. He’s 20 yards in front of me.

Nathan and I trade the lead four times in that race until a squall slides through the course, engulfing the fleet on the final run. Nathan and I are caught on the wrong side of it, and the fleet passes us by.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that practice race foreshadowed the upcoming week. Crazy conditions, lots of mental gymnastics, and hard work all the time. Just like every other Worlds I’ve raced against him, Nathan was fully in the game. It would be a long, tough week.

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By the third day of racing, we finally see some decent breeze and I have a glamour day. I stay out after four full races to just blast around on the water with two-time world champion Simon Payne (who was there as a coach and shore support for several teams). The government shutdown had just ended, hence military planes were flying again, and as Simon and I blazed across the water, two F-22 Raptors came in low and fast under full afterburner right above us. I was just yards from Simon, laughing and screaming, “That’s the sound of freedom, Simon!” even though I knew he’d never hear me over the deafening sound of 70,000 pounds of thrust burning through twin Pratt & Whitney 119-100 jet engines. It was a special moment, and a great omen.

Winning my second world championship in a class I’ve put so much time into was massively rewarding. Rather than spending months trying to be the perfect weight or messing around with complicated developments, I focused on the likely weather, having a reliable and quick setup in varied conditions, and keeping my head on straight.

While many of the competitors had prepared for strong tradewinds, I knew the late date of the Worlds (it was pushed back to October to allow more America’s Cup sailors to attend) meant transitional weather with lots of potential for light air. My preparation allowed me to avoid double-digit scores after the first race, and while others had more bullets, consistency was key to winning this Worlds. Along with plenty of luck, of course.

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Bora Gulari, of Detroit, Mich., edged out Australia’s Nathan Outteridge by 8 points in the 80-boat Moth fleet to reclaim his Moth World Championship title. Gulari previously won the championship in Cascade Locks, Ore., in 2009. This article first appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Sailing World.

Moth World Championship

Moth World Championship

Bora Gulari (far left) foils alongside the competition on his Mach 2 Moth, on the way to winning his second world championship title. Thierry Martinez/Sea & Co
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