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Scow Moth Sailing in the USA
February 2003

International Scow Moth KA 9199 - Flatoo-a-T


I purchased this Moth from James Dwyer of Sydney, Australia in 1996. He was leaving for England on a new job posting. My friend, Bill Beaver, organized getting it on the International Canoe container for the trip back to the U.S. ( Bill was over for the International Canoe Worlds at Port Stephens). Before loading it on the container, Bill took it for a test sail in Sydney harbor and promptly pulled one of the shroud fittings out.


It is designed by John Quinlan who made three of these scows. According to John McAteer, NSW Moth historian, John Quinlan sailed out of Concord and Ryde Sailing Club on the Paramatta River and designed this scow when he was in his mid fifties. The scow has a very flat rocker with an unusual flat panel at the stem that starts at a chine near the waterline and finishes in a very sharp foredeck/hull juncture at the stem. It is a double chine design with a very narrow transom. The rig, daggerboard and wings are set about 100mm further back than in a normal scow design which keeps the helmsman near the stern. Having never talked to the designer, it appears to me that he tried to apply the flatter rocker and pintail of sailboard designs radically to this scow Moth.

Hull Construction

Foam/glass with a light ply foredeck. The hull has a fair amount of dents that get filled and faired whenever I feel motivated. The hull feels fairly light for a scow but I haven’t weighed it.


It has a rig that was standard for the Australian scows in 1980; a Superspar mast with no prodder or diamonds, the original Lee sail has been replaced, but the newer sail is similar, and has a homemade boom out of a squashed pipe with a lever vang. The blades are made from glass covered wood.

Sailing Characteristics

James Dwyer had this to say about the scow in an email, “it is flatter than most fore and aft (i.e. not much rocker) which tends to make it nose-dive”. This is somewhat understated as in winds under 10 knots it has a tendency to put the nose under quite regularly; - in any motor boat chop, downwind in slight gusts, sometimes just out of the blue for spite. Since there is not enough displacement in light winds, with the helmsman back, the transom drags and sends up a little rooster tail. The helm cannot move forward or the nosediving gets worse.

All this changes in 12 knots and above with flat water. Dynamic lift takes over and this scow design planes upwind and down and is a hoot to sail. This is what has got me hooked on scows.

Sailing Stories

I’ve put this scow through the wringer. Bill and I had to fix the shroud fitting and a large piece of delaminated deck when the scow got back to the U.S. Later, when sailing in some large waves, the shroud pin fell out, the mast popped off and put a hole in the foredeck. Another time the upper rudder gudgeon pulled through the hull. The hull also fell from the ceiling of my carport where it was being stored and crushed a corner of stem. Like most Mothies, you just shrug, fix it and get back to sailing.

I’ve competed at the Modern Moth nationals held every year at Brigantine YC in New Jersey. It is always short courses (sprint racing) and light air. The front running, 1960’s vintage, low wetted surface, Mistral design usually beat me handily. I have won one race over the years when the wind came up but I have to be careful with the chop.

All in all, in their elements, the scow Moth is one of the most responsive planing dinghies I have sailed. Though at times I get frustrated with my design after a particularly bad submarining race, I always come back for the chance to put on the afterburners and tear around the harbor. I would like to try out a more conventional scow design at some point.

Rod Mincher
Annapolis MD, USA