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Mark Robinson, president of the International Moth Class Association

Mark Robinson is the president of the International Moth Class Association and did this interview between regattas in the Bahamas and Thailand.

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you tell a bit about the regatta in the Bahamas you mentioned in your email?

MARK ROBINSON: The regatta was the Farr 40 World Championships which are 40 foot yachts sailed by 10 crew.
This class is an owner/driver class when the owner (the one that can afford all the money to buy the boat) must steer the boat all the time. They are allowed to have four professional sailors and the remainder must be amateur sailors. i.e. their main job is outside of the marine industry.
The who’s who of sailing were there competing including past Volvo Ocean Race & Americas Cup champions. There were only two Australian boats competing, one placed 17th and we were 18th, which is disappointing but still a good effort considering the competition.

RV: Could you give a bit of a description about the Moth class?

MR: The International Moth is a single-handed development class. It was one of the first classes to be recognised as an ‘International’ class by the governing body of sailing back in the 1960/70’s. As a development class they have few rules and could be said to be a ‘box type’ rule where there are only really maximum dimensions in the rules such as Max length, width, sail area etc. They are also restricted to a monohull (no catamaran configurations allowed) and windsurfer type configurations are also not allowed.
They have evolved over the years from a rather wide flat hull shape to the current extremely narrow hull forms for less resistance in the water. In that respect the Europe dinghy actually looks like a moth did about 20 years ago. That’s because the Europe dinghy was an offshoot of the moth class around that time, when as the name suggests, some people form Europe were looking for a more rigid class with set rules but still using what was a good hull shape (the moth) for those times.
I like sailing moths because they utilise the latest technology, they are extremely fast, technically demanding and also, being a single handed boat, you don’t have to worry about organising crew to have time off for sailing. The moth is also still a International class like the Europe & 470 and as such I can still compete at a world level against other sailors from around the planet.

RV: How did you get involved in sailing Moths?

MR: I had followed moths since the late 1980s but had been sidetracked into the 470 and other classes seeking selection in the Olympics amongst other things.

After the 2000 Olympic trials finished, I stopped sailing the 470 due to the high cost of campaigning them on the world tour and was looking for a new sailing challenge. I ran into the local Sydney moth sailors at a boat show about two years ago and decided that this was my next sailing challenge. So I went for a test sail and within two weeks was competing in my first moth championship.

RV: You mentioned in your president’s letter that you had a busy social calendar in the IMCA Japan championships. Can you tell a bit about what happened over there and where you went?
MR: The Japanese moth sailors have a reputation for being the best hosts at a regatta.They had as expected organised a large range of social activities for us when we were not on the water competing. The Worlds were based in a fishing town called Choshi, some 80km east of Tokyo. Firstly the Japanese sailors are famous for their caravan city, where they turn up to the regatta with a whole heap of minivans with the boats on the roof. They park four of these vans together, stretch an awning inbetween and set up thier own little bar & resturant. So needless to say the local brew and cuisine were flowing there from the beginning of the regatta.
The official opening night was held at a local upmarket hotel, with government officials and local dignataries in attendance.
There were local drum bands and dancing to fill the night up. If that wasn’t enough the very next night we had another opening ceremony, this time in the town basketball stadium where the locals were allowed to purchases tickets to sit down and have dinner with the sailors. The stadium was packed with about 600 locals and the nights entertainment included famous Japanese singers and performers, followed by the introduction of each sailor to the crowd. There were too many social events to mention them all but one other included a trip to the local primary school where the entrie school assembled on a field to welcome us with traditional dancing and singing followed by lunch in the classrooms with two sailors sitting down in each class to spend some time with the students.

RV: Where has Moth sailing and sailing in general taken you around the world over the years and what reasons did you go there?

MR: Sailing in general has taken me to all states in Australia except the NT for various regattas and also while I was sailing the 470 class I competed in Europe in various countries like France, The Netherlands, Germany, & Denmark over the last decade.

In the Moth class I have been to the World Championships last year in Japan and then this year to the European Championships in France.
Over the past year I have been based in Thailand where I was the head coach of the national team. With the team I have travelled throughout Europe & Asia this year competing at various regattas, and finalling culminating in attending the 14th Asian Games in Korea last month, which is a sort of mini-olympics for about 40 Asian countries.
In the last month I have attended the Farr 40 World Championships held in the Bahamas, and will be back in Thailand in early December competing in the Kings Cup yachting regatta, before returning to Sydney to again work on organising committee for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

RV: What sort of things do you like to read?

MR: I do read a lot of sailing related material having worked in Sailing Administration for the past 10 years. I mainly read a lot of tactical sailing articles or books along with techical books to do with the sport of sailing.
On the novel side of the equation, I rarely get a chance to read because of lack of time, so I tend to do most of my reading on airplanes while travelling to different regattas around the world.
I tend to stick to the Tom Clancy type novels (most of which have been now made into movies) like Op Centre, Clear & Present Danger etc.. The sort of ‘James Bond’ type fiction which is loosely related to reality.
I also got into the Anne Rice Vampires Chronicles some years ago and just managed to finish the first one when it became a movie with Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt, so I continued with that series of novels before they made them all into movies !
I think I like the Tom Clancy novels the best basically because they keep you guessing as to which side everyone is really on. The high level politics and spy type stuff that Tom Clancy writes tends to keep me going through the book at a frantic pace to get to the end.
Anne Rice also has a new book, based upon The Vampire Chronicles, I saw at LA Airport last week so that looks like my next piece of reading.
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