A brief history by Ian Gotts
It all started with a Moth sailor
In 2004 Australian sailor Rohan Veal blew the world away with photos of his International Moth flying above water. Since then, sailors have marvelled at how a boat can rise out of the water and hydrofoil at almost twice windspeed. How long will be it be before a Moth will hit 30 knots, a speed that shames just about any monohull sailing yacht you care to mention, with the exception of the Open 60s and canting-keeled SuperMaxis.
British hi-tech boat builder Linton Jenkins was quick to see the appeal of the Moth and flew into production of his own foiling Moths in close collaboration with former Olympic Tornado representative Adam May, these days an egghead America’s Cup designer in Valencia for the Swedish Victory Challenge. Linton loved the Moth, but wanted to make a foiler for people weighing more than 70kg, considered the top end of the Moth’s competitive weight range.
The RS600 was a popular singlehanded trapeze boat of the 1990s, a modern-day revamp of the Contender with trapeze racks and a carbon-fibre rotating mast with fully-battened Mylar sail. However, the RS600 soon became superseded by the RS700 and Musto Skiff, both of which boasted the added thrill and challenge of an asymmetric spinnaker for rapid downwind sailing. The second-hand value of RS600s plummeted as sailors sought their kicks elsewhere, but Linton saw a future for the unloved singlehander, and the Moth’s foil package provided the answer.
When in early 2005 Linton rang me up and offered to put some prototype Moth foils on my ageing and unused RS600, I leapt at the chance. It has to be said I didn’t see my boat again for some time, as Linton tinkered away at making the foil package work on a boat that was never conceived with flying in mind! Various expert sailors came to Weymouth – where Linton’s Full Force workshops are based – and did their best to break my boat. And break it they did. Not satisfied with flying a few feet above the water they decided to completely leave the water and aim for the clouds, coming back down with a nasty thud. Masts, sails and hydrofoils all got broken on the way to developing a foil package that could work on the RS600.
But by the end of 2006, Linton and his sidekick Sam Pascoe, the 2006 British Champion in the International Moth, had moved away from trying to make Moth foils fit the RS600 and constructed a sturdier, purpose-built set of foils. This made all the difference. The boat flew beautifully from day one. Linton was now sufficiently confident to go into full production of foil sets for customers, and the RS600FF was born, officially launched at the Dinghy Show in London, March 2007.
Sam Pascoe talks about the RS600FF
The first ever RS600FF National Championships took place this weekend in fantastic conditions in Hayling Island.
The event was won convincingly by foiling guru, Sam Pascoe, who has been the man to beat in the class since he started testing the boat in the early days of its development. Pascoe has been a foiler for many years now, having started in the early days of the foiling Moth in the UK. He quickly became an integral part of the Mothing scene, winning the UK National Championships in 2006 and finishing fourth at the 2007 World Championships in Garda.
Weight, however, had long been the bane of Pascoe’s moth career, being up in the 80kg zone, when much of the fleet is hovering around the mid to late 60kg mark. Although, as he proved, this did not seem to hinder him too much, it was also clear a foiler designed for the heavyweight would be a slightly better option for him. While still Moth sailing, Pascoe went to work for Linton Jenkins at Full Force Boats, primarily building the Mistress design Moths as well as other work the company took onboard.
It was while this was happening Jenkins began to develop the foiling 600 with Pascoe’s considerable experience as a foiler making him the perfect test pilot. We have long followed the progress of the RS600FF from initial sightings in Weymouth Harbour, to the recent announcements that it would be supported by RS and that new RS600FFs would be of all carbon construction.
As such we were excited to hear about the first National Championships for the class, even if it was a fairly low-key affair. It was of little surprise Pascoe took victory at the event and, in honesty, most probably presumed he would win from the beginning.