by Richard Gladwell for sail-world.com
It seems a little hard to believe that it was three and half years ago that I first sailed the Weta, off Takapuna Beach on Auckland’s North Shore. That day in a 10-12kt sea breeze the Weta was put through her paces, sailing singlehanded.
It was a memorable sail – a few months after BMW Oracle Racing had won the America’s Cup sailing their 120ft wingsailed trimaran. Having seen the massive trimaran flying her mainhull with relative ease, the obvious objective was to see if the Weta would do the same. Despite several carefully angled runs, and with the Code Zero fully powered up, we never got close. But it was a great experience to be able to run three sails while sailing singlehanded.
Over the intervening three years, multihulls have become much more mainstream – largely off the back of the AC72’s and the America’s Cup – but what is like to race a Weta single handed? An invitation to have another test sail soon got upped into a Media Race – competing against Boating New Zealand's Ben Gladwell - nothing quite like keeping it in the family, is there?
This time Lake Pupuke was the venue, instead of the picturesque Takapuna Beach. But as our race unfolded the initial drawn session stretched to two – with the second being staged a week or so later off Takapuna.
After a bit of cockpit drill ashore the Weta seemed to have simple systems, the only question being how it would all come together in a race.
Soon after leaving the shore, I had my had our first 'hydro' moment. Not sure what caused it – fiddling with the rudder, forgetting the mainsheet and jib were semi-cleated.
As with Emirates Team NZ in the America’s Cup the lay-over was spectacular. The Weta was right on her side, with the leeward float submerged, and an ignominious capsize seemed to be inevitable.
However the Weta is no ordinary boat and she just hung in there, until the mainsheet was flicked out of the cleat, then unbelievably she recovered and fell back upright.