Weta Marine, from garage project to transforming the sailing industry
It all started as a scribble on a school note pad for Roger Kitchen.
After spending hundreds of hours on the water teaching kids to sail in boats that were slow, too small and tricky to sail, Roger thought there must be a better way.
Roger and son Chris, researched around the world for a boat that was simple to teach in but still fast and exciting. No one else seemed to have the answer, so in typical kiwi style they thought, bugger it, we’ll just build one ourselves. So the garage was cleared out and the help of a few experts enlisted (Tim Clissold of TC designs did the original design) and the rest is history.
Today there are over 900 Weta trimarans sailing the waters in 24 different countries around the world and the boat has been recognized by winning the Sailing World international boat of the year in 2010.
The Weta trimaran is heralded by many in the industry as a breath of fresh air in the stagnant small boat sailing arena. Weta brings a burst of energy and excitement to sailing clubs, schools and boating families.
“We are proud that our boat is now providing the livelihood for 30 dealers around the world, whom we get to meet and share sailing stories on a regular basis. The ultimate is the emails, videos and comments we get everyday from Germany, France, Japan, Oman, Chile.. from owners who enthusiastically tell us how much they love the boat and the adventures they’ve had”, says Roger.
Weta are going all guns blazing to make people aware that there is a better way to learn to sail and to reignite a passionthat you are never too young or too old to have fun sailing.
“We want Weta to be known as the boat that has transformed the dinghy sailing industry from slow and boring, to fast, easy and exhilarating fun.”
Roger’s dream for the future is there are kids of all ages, all around the world, scribbling pictures of the Weta on their school or office pads, as they daydream about the exhilarating experience of sailing a Weta.
Roger’s background is in teaching mathematics and he has built a variety of boats. He has also been very involved with local sailing clubs in both administration and coaching. For 3 years he was Chairman of the Yachting New Zealand Junior and Youth Committee which controls all recreational and high performance youth sailing in New Zealand.
Chris has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Auckland University and has worked for short periods as an engineer. He has sailed for 19 years competing in many international regattas in a wide range of classes. He is a qualified coach with Yachting New Zealand and has experience coaching New Zealand sailors at worlds regattas. Currently he is match racing and sailing 18’ skiffs.
The Weta was conceptualised, tested, modified and prepared for production by Roger and Chris Kitchen, but there were many people involved in the development of the boat during the prototype stage, from 2001 to 2006, before it reached a level that met the Kitchen's design criteria and was ready for production. It is a fantastic collaborative effort by some great Kiwi minds.
Weta Marine wishes to thank everyone who provided input to the project. Contributors of note are:
Tim Clissold (TC design) - Design
Graeme Robbins – Sails
Tony Harold – Sails
Ken Fyfe - Sails
Alex Vallings (C-Tech) – Carbon extrusions
Mike Pierce (Boatbuilders) – Foils
Simon Manning - Rudder stock and trampolines
Guo Chunlu (Land & Ocean, China) – Moulding and production