An early spring paradise lies in a beach resort community along North Florida’s Gulf Coast powdery white beaches and emerald-green waters. Fort Walton Beach is home to WetaFest USA, an event that just earned permanent status at Fort Walton Yacht Club. 11 races, three days, the second weekend of April. Mark your calendar now!
In its third year, WetaFest drew sailors from around the country as far away as Washington state, California, Texas, Michigan, New York and North Carolina. This year provided the largest gathering of Weta Trimarans assembled with 26 registered. When one participant was asked why he drove for days to come to this event he said, “This provides a fabulous way to enhance my skills by gaining experience in a big fleet. Socializing with interesting characters is just icing on the cake.” He’s not even home yet and already up for another road trip next year. Sailing in warm Florida water? It’s incentive enough!
WetaFest Village is becoming the ever popular place to reside since it features close proximity to the beach. Sailors can be on their boats in a minute or two. The Village provides plenty of off-the-water socialization time for racers and spectators alike. What may happen? Who will you meet while you’re hanging out? Well, it’s anybody’s guess! As people arrived, they were quickly welcomed by those that had already set up camp.
Prior to racing commencement, sailors experienced the “Go Fast” seminar from Sailing Hall of Famer, Randy Smyth. 24 participants spent the day involved in a beach briefing quickly followed by on-the-water training and critique. This practice time and immediate feedback proved to be invaluable for all that attended.
Day one began with “hard-core racing” in our single-handed and double-handed fleets. Mike Krantz, a top A-Cat sailor, was quickly out in front with a close race between the next four places. This provided the best sailing weather of the weekend with variable winds nearing double digits.
Day two the winds died down and was very light air sailing. As a storm front was moving through, the sea breeze kicked up in the afternoon. Krantz, remained at the top again. The leaderboard slightly shifted between the next few places. After several unfortunate collisions during racing, one Weta had to be towed in to assess the carnage. After careful inspection, it was deemed seaworthy to race the next day. Later that evening, the fleet headed to Fudpuckers for dinner and drinks. Excitement was in the air as everyone was exchanging race course stories that had occurred earlier in the day.
The distance race on the final day provided some on-the-water entertainment. Several sailors ended up sailing all over the bay and back heading towards the wrong up wind mark. Those of us who were watching were highly amused because this “cat and mouse” game turned into a “follow the leader” for many.
Congratulations to Mike Krantz as the overall winner of WetaFest 2015! Thanks to FWYC, Weta dealers, Jon Britt and Dick Hitchcock and all our wonderful sponsors. It was said over and over again, “We’ll be back for WetaFest 2016!”