April 18-22 was a much anticipated date for Weta sailors in North America. US Sailing chose the Weta class for the 2018 US Multihull Championship hosted by Fort Walton Yacht Club which was held in conjunction with the 6th annual WetaFest. This event broke an all time US fleet record with 40 Wetas registered of which 37 boats showed up to compete for the coveted title. As sailors arrived early to rig and tune, the excitement and buzz was in the air as old friends reunited. Dinners at the Club gave plenty of time to mix it up by getting to know the other sailors. Roger Kitchen, WetaMarine CEO came from the other side of the world to join the fleet. He said, “It’s AWESOME seeing all these Wetas together”. Kitchen had so much FUN that he plans to return for WetaFest 2019.
After the recent arrival of two new containers of custom color Wetas, the fleet has an updated look on the water. Throughout the week, Weta dealer Dick Hitchcock was busy helping sailors with their new boats and charters. John Heizer from Cambridge, Ontario made the trek to compete in the regatta and tow his new boat home. The Class has been building with several local fleets growing on the East Coast and the Midwest.
On Wednesday afternoon, Randy Smyth hosted a clinic for the sailors which included Chalk Talk, coaching and on the water drills. That afternoon was rounded out by a Fun Race with FWYC members commencing as the sun set over the bay.
Wetas organized the first ever Clean Regatta at FWYC sponsored by Sailors for the Sea. The goal was to minimize waste by using reusable water bottles and coffee cups and eliminating plastic straws. Stephanie Taylor, US Weta Ambassador, did a multimedia presentation to educate the Weta Class and Yacht Club members on our impact on the globe. By spreading the word, a number of sailors plan to start Clean Regattas at their home clubs.
Jonathan Weston and Dave Bernsten from the San Francisco Bay Area educated sailors about how to safely sail in higher wind conditions. Their recommendations were to sit as close to the shroud as possible on the upwind beat. If necessary, slide back a few inches to keep the bow out of the water. Remember, do not over trim the jib. When going downwind, slide aft and inboard the main hull or out on the back porch. The key is to up the ante each time to build your comfort level.
Day one highlights included Cliff Peshek’s picture perfect capsize at the weather mark during race three. After winning two of the four races, Mike Krantz finished the day in first ahead of Smyth.
It was a shame that we didn’t have our picnic baskets with us to enjoy lunch during a two hour on the water postponement on day two. Once the seabreeze kicked in, racing got underway in the lighter air and equalized the fleet. Those that did better day one, didn’t do as well today and vice versa. Smyth came out on top with Krantz dropping to second.
As we headed out on Choctawhatchee Bay on day three, wind conditions started out at almost 20 knots and waves up to three feet. This left half of the fleet on the beach. The day ended with no wind and a very rare spectrum of conditions. Cam Farrah, 17 year old sailor from Destin FL had her race of the regatta in this light air. She was pacing behind Randy Smyth in race 4 until the wind died to zero, the race abandoned and the fleet got towed in. With an impressive overall regatta finish of 10th, she is a sailor to watch.
On the final day, wind conditions were up and the San Francisco Bay sailors were chomping at the bit to get out on the water. Early that morning, all races were abandoned due to a front moving in and potential lightning strikes.
This regatta was a true test of sailors who were able to sail well in every wind condition on the spectrum during the ten completed races. Congratulations to Randy Smyth who beat out Mike Krantz by one point to win his fifth US Multihull Championship title. Third place went to Weta Class President, Bob Hodges of LA, fourth place to Jonathan Weston of CA, and fifth place to Keith Rice from NY. Winning the doublehanded division was the Taylor team, Alan and Stephanie from NC.
Thank you to all those that were a part of this one, US Sailing, Gill, Hobie Polarized, Sailors for the Sea, Weta Marine CEO Roger Kitchen, Weta Trimarans of Florida dealer Dick Hitchcock, along with all those gracious hard working volunteers from Fort Walton Yacht Club.