The second annual Weta Fest has successfully wrapped up at Fort Walton Yacht Club, Florida.
This Weta Fest event has got great international traction in just its second year with numerous replica regattas being held throughout the world in each Weta community. The simple format involves all sailors including a coaching day, sprint races, long distance race and plenty of off-the-water social time to enjoy what the location has to offer. It's nothing new but is satisfies the demands of today's hectic timeshort lifestyle where you have to mix it up to maximise fun!
Sailors attended from all over the USA including California, Michigan, Texas and New York States, as well as Weta Marine representative Miranda Powrie from New Zealand. What was interesting in this event, given the cool light forecast, most of the fleet opted to sail single handed – the opposite to last year that saw sailors pairing up to manage the strong winds.
Miranda held a coaching clinic on the Thursday to help the sailors further develop their sailing skills.
Day 1 Racing started off with a frosty, shifty 10-15 knot northerly. Atlanta's Mike Krantz launched off the line and won by a good margin. It must have been from all the practice he had at the A Class worlds in New Zealand last month. For the second race the breeze built to 20 knots. Miranda stuck it to the boys and led until the last leg when San Francisco's Jonathan Weston edged past her to take out the win. In race 3 the wind completely dropped and swung to a 0-2 knot southerly. John 'Superman' Luzius got a jump on the fleet, only to have a sad America's Cup moment when the committee blew up the race. Something supernatural about what happens to 'Superman' at Weta fest (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsTlge4_RYo for his story). The committee persisted and did well to get a quick one lap race to finish off the day. Alabama's Jim Leonard showed his legendary form to take out the race. As the sun set the fleet enjoyed kegs, rum and Mexican food sponsored by Salt Boards. Word is that the debrief had some heated discussions fuelled by margarita's on the finer points of how to master Weta sailing.
Day 2 It started at Tommy Mattione's restaurant with the fleet enjoying the 'worlds best eggs benedict'. Lucky for those who chose the light option as the racing was light only reaching a peak gust of 4.4 knots! All accounts are that it was a good test for the brain to pick as many of the shifts as you could in the 5 sprint races. A day of snakes and ladders on the race course. Jim Leonard sailed super consistently to secure the overall lead with a day to spare. Mike Krantz did well to take out two races.
Day 3 The final day of Weta Fest was a destination race. Unfortunately the breeze did not repeat last years 25 knot ripper and only peaked at around 6 knots. The course was a figure of eight in the harbour and again Jim Leonard sailed well to win overall. Miranda did the Kiwis proud and took second place (seems to be a kiwi theme here....) with Atlantas Mike Krantz in third place.
The fleet celebrated the regatta end at Fudpuckers – don't attempt to pronounce after their Margaritas.... with a give away of Ronstan Prizes. The hot pink gennaker was given away along with some kiwi flavoured special prizes to embrace the roots of the Weta.
Big thanks to Ronstan, Salt Boards, WRI and Fudpuckers for sponsoring yet another Weta regatta.
The North American Weta fleet is highly active already early in the season with the St Francis Yacht Club Spring Dinghy regatta being sailed over the same weekend as Weta Fest, in San Francisco. The fleet there also battled light winds only racing on Saturday. Dave Berntsen won, with Christophe Allie in second and Marc Simmel in third. The fleet is set for a big season including events all around North America. See the full schedule below.