Glamour weather just added to the fizz at the NZ Wetafest held at Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club over the weekend.
We arrived late Friday afternoon to a light sea breeze and quickly rigged and got out on the water for the rum race. Everyone was a little unsure of our course, except perhaps the local Phil Scherer who sails with his son Lawrence. But basically we made our way around the sand bank in the middle of Tauranga harbour with the sound of thuds to keep us company as everyone managed to smack into the sandbank at least once each, no sneaky cutting corners in Tauranga!
Saturday dawned sunny with another light sea breeze that filled in just in time for the start of the Rogaine orienteering race. Sailors were given a map and instructions and had to search the harbour for hidden codes and they could get the codes in any order that they wanted. With high tide at 11.30 there was a lot of discussion about what way to go first and the tactical advice was coming thick and fast.
Jon Bilger explains the race "We were given a chart showing a dozen locations that ranged from navigational marks, to wharfs & beaches that were marked with the important secret codes. Tauranga harbour has numerous navigation marks, and so this is more challenging that you would think! The rules stipulated that you could find the locations in any order but you needed to be back at the beach in 1.5hrs otherwise get penalised points. Stella, my 8 year old daughter, who like her father is quite competitive, was fired up to win. Stella was in charge of the map in a plastic bag, and we cleverly tied the pencil to the bag, as losing the pencil into the water was not an option. All seemed to be going well until the lead in the pencil broke! Writing with just the lead was proving difficult for Stella, and even more so for Dad. Undaunted, Stella managed to wrangle another pencil from the organising committee (in a chase boat) with ever the dramatic comment of “thank you so much, you saved my life!!” We maintained relative calm on-board until towards the end. We could not find a navigation mark with our last clue, to find out later this clue went missing! Stella warned me that we better get back to the beach on time, and it turned out that her time on distance was very good… we had 30 seconds to spare, and managed 2nd place. Phew!!"
Phil Schearer used his local knowledge to advantage to take out the race, getting 9 out of 11 codes and getting back to the beach in the time limit to avoid a penalty.
After lunch everyone headed out for some informal sprint racing with coaching from Chris, a warm up for the main event on Sunday. That night TYPBC put on a delicious barbecue dinner. Discussing the day’s events with a few beers as the sun set over the club was a great end to a really fun day.
Sunday Warren from TYPBC ran six hotly contested 20 minute races for us. The racing was awesome, overtaking just before the finish, a lot of competitive match racing tactics and some full on starts. The wind started light and built to 12 knots, perfect Weta weather. We raced just to the right of the sandbank and the tide made for some interesting local effects. I used my downwind speed to gain much needed ground on many of the races.
Twice I was in 4th or 5th on the final run and managed to just grab a second. In the third race I rounded the top mark for the final time just behind Will Cobb I gybed at the same time as him and went for the roll. But we sailed drastically different angles and I sailed myself into a hole while Will soaked low to take the win. The next two races the wind went up a notch and I took two quick wins while Will got a 3 and 4 allowing me to get back in the game. For the last race it was all on, Will had a great start and jumped out to a good lead, but I mowed him down on the last run and rolled him about 15 meters from the start line. Will soaked low and this time I matched him so that I could stay in the same wind, but the boat end was drastically favoured, the wrong side for me. I did a quick gybe to swing behind Will but he reacted quickly to get his boat around and put himself in between me and the line. Meanwhile we were so focused on each other that we didn’t notice Brent and Liam Charlesworth coming storming in on a better angle, luckily we were just enough advanced that Will took 1st and I took 2nd by a millimetre to secure the regatta.
All said and done it was a fantastic weekend, really enjoyable racing, tropical weather and the orienteering race worked out really well. I would like to thank Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club for all their help and the Weta Class Association for putting on such a great regatta.