Post and Courier
July 24, 2014

Ned Goss sails dinghy to world record in Charleston Harbor

Posted: 05/17/2014 12:01 a.m.


By Luke Reasoner

The Charleston sailing scene has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years, bringing more events - national and international - to the port city.

Charleston Race Week, the perennially nationally ranked College of Charleston sailing team and a multitude of successful community sailing programs have all helped make Charleston a destination for sailors of all ages and abilities.

And now, thanks to Ned Goss, Charleston is even more appealing for those adrenaline junkies searching for speed on the water.

Goss, the dockmaster for the College of Charleston sailing program, became the fastest dinghy sailor in the world when he recorded a maximum speed of 36.6 knots and maintained a 10-second average of 35.9 knots while on his Mach2 Moth in Charleston Harbor on May 10. To put that in perspective, 36.6 knots is more than 42 mph.

"I was out there enjoying myself. I was in the right place at the right time," said Goss, noting the winds were blowing 18-22 knots at the time. "I didn't go out looking to set that record. It just happened.

"The puff dropped down right in front of me and I said 'here we go' and it just took off. I eased the sail, bore off and just took off. I was just trying to keep it going straight and make as little movement as possible."

Less than 20 seconds later, the record run was over.

"A wave hit my hip, it threw me off balance for a brief second, and I slid back into the boat. Then I got ejected off the back and landed on my hip," Goss said. "I skipped across the water and I saw the boat do a complete 360 on the foils in front me."

After getting back to the boat, Goss immediately checked the GPS and saw 36.6 and 35.9.

The previous published record in a Moth was held by Swiss-American Chris Rast. He set the mark prior to the start of the 2013 Moth European Championship in Italy on April 27, 2013. Rast had a maximum speed of 32.2 knots and a 10-second average 29.1 knots.

Goss, a Madison, Conn., native, said he wouldn't be surprised to see his record surpassed soon by someone else in the harbor.

"I wasn't shooting for (the record)," he said. "I just enjoy sailing and enjoy sailing that boat fast. I think 40 knots is attainable as long as the water is right - not huge waves - and the current isn't adversely affecting you."

Goss' speeds were recorded and verified on a Velocitek ProStart, a GPS device that records speed, location, wind direction and other valuable statistical information.

"Anytime a record is broken by 10 percent, that's a pretty big step," said Charles Swanson, sales and support manager of the Hawaii-based company Velocitek. "Everything looks legitimate. The numbers match up with Ned's story. It's incredible."

Goss has many National and North American Championship victories to his name. He was a member of the U.S. Sailing team from 2003-05, but says teaching and expanding the sport of sailing is his true passion.

"He puts a lot of time in and a lot of hard hours so once in a while when the breeze is just right, he has to go out on his Moth," College of Charleston sailing director Greg Fisher said. "He is the most enthusiastic person when it comes to sailing that I know."

A 2002 graduate of the College of Charleston, Goss is not a stranger to the world of high performance boats. He has been sailing and racing them for a many years. He said the purchase of the Moth was made as a 35th birthday present to himself.

"I'd never have the time or support to sail a moth if it weren't for a few people: For Greg Fisher and the College of Charleston for letting me sail when the wind gets up, for Zhik for tons of great gear that keeps me smooth in the air even when I am not." Goss said. "For Danny and Jackson Davenport for replacing all my destroyed sunglasses, to Alec and Charles at Velocitek for the stuff that records the speed and tells me where and when to tack, and of course to the entire U.S. Moth Class for all their help and coaching at numerous events around the country."

Recently, Charleston's Tim Fitzgerald helped organize the Fort 2 Battery race, which consisted of various types of high performance boats and boards sailing from Fort Sumter to the Battery. Six of the top 10 finishers were in Moths, including Goss, who ended up sixth overall.

"It's great to see Ned carrying the flag for Charleston in high speed sailing," Fitzgerald said. "He gives his own time and gear to help so many people experience flying in his Moth, so it's really perfect that Ned has the record."