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July/August 2011 Issue 195: An OSTAR winner with Moxie

Jun 22, 2011
<p>The solo sailor Phil Weld aboard his multihull racer <em>Moxie</em>.</p>

The solo sailor Phil Weld aboard his multihull racer Moxie.

Phil Weld had moxie (moxie: courage, nerve, guts). Weld’s whole life proved that over and over again and it was only fitting that the boat that took him to greater prominence should have been named Moxie. That boat, of course, was the 50-foot, Dick Newick-designed trimaran that Weld raced to victory in the 1980 OSTAR. A victory all the more impressive because Weld, at 65 years old, took three days off the previous record set by the late Alain Colas. Moxie indeed!

Weld was always ready for a challenge. It probably was in his genes. He came from a family that was as close as possible to American aristocracy. The first Weld graduated from Harvard when Massachusetts was just a colony. His grandfather was one of the largest shipowners during the 19th century owning 51 sailing ships and 10 steamers. Weld was born into a world of privilege, but by all accounts never let that get in his way. After graduating Harvard in 1936 he got into the newspaper business in Chicago. During World War II he volunteered in the infantry and joined the Special Forces that came to be known as Merrill’s Marauders. After the war, Weld, who was married in 1937, settled down. The family grew until Weld was the busy father of five children. He purchased the Gloucester Daily Times and the Daily News of Newburyport. Weld had always dabbled in small boats and he got hooked on racing multihulls.

With relatively little offshore experience but plenty of well, moxie, he entered the 1972 OSTAR, racing the 44-foot trimaran Trumpeter. It was not an impressive showing. He finished 27th in 39 days, 13 hours. Colas won that race with the record-breaking time of 20 days 13 hours.

In 1976 he thought he had the winning boat in the 60-foot Dick Newick-designed trimaran Gulf Streamer. On the way to Plymouth, north of Bermuda, Gulf Streamer capsized and Weld and crew spent five days waiting for rescue. Unperturbed, he decided that he would try again for the 1980 race.

He hired Newick to build him a 50-foot trimaran that was designed to win the race. He named the boat Moxie after the soft drink company in Maine. He received no money from his sponsor.

Before the race Weld wrote that the 1980 OSTAR would be won by a multihull. “The winner will make it to Newport in 425 hours plus or minus two hours.” That meant 17 days and some change. That would take three days off the existing record. If his competitors thought it was possible they probability didn’t think Weld would do it. Weld however, understood that age could be an advantage in ocean racing, “...the accretion of wisdom can offset diminishing physical power.”

Weld wrote about Moxie and his life in a book by the same name. Weld relied on celestial navigation to find his position. He admitted to having no luck in doing star sights so he ran sun lines and found latitude using LAN.

Let’s join him out at sea on June 19 (use the 2011 Nautical Almanac). Height of eye is nine feet and his DR is 45° 50’N by 57° 30’W. We want a noon shot to find latitude. The Hs of a lower limb shot is 67° 35’.

A. What is time of LAN in GMT?
B. What is Ho?
C. What is the latitude?

Answers:
A: 15 hours, 51 minutes
B: 67° 47.7’
C: N 45° 37.7’

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