Tomales Bay, CA, August 30, 2014 Inverness YC
Racing along the waters of the San Andreas fault, the annual Hog Island Race spans the length of Tomales Bay, covering well over 20 miles of sun, scenery and warm shifting winds on a windward leeward course. Club racers invite their guests from around the bay area to participate in a mix of 110’s, Wabbits, Flying Scots, Flying Dutchmen, and this year, the flying Wetas.
Jonathan Weston, coming off his recent Weta West Coast Championship, took the start. As guest of Jim Saarman, also competing on one of the other two club Wetas entered, Weston knew little of the course or the waters. After nosediving into the shoal, Weston still managed to pluck himself out of the mud and build over a mile lead on the fleet in what he describes as “Hot Donut sign lit” conditions – flat water and 18-20 naut winds. Only one Hobie 20 was able to keep up with him until the wind calmed halfway up the course.
“Once the wind lightened and steadied so I couldn’t gain on faster tacks, The Hobie 20 passed me up, and the 110’s closed in rapidly, which was a good thing because I had no idea what Hog Island looks like, or which way to round it. Never thought I’d be leading the fleet, so the plan was just to follow everyone and enjoy the scenery. As it turned out, you don’t round Hog Island after all, just a marker NW of it, so slowing down and waiting for a 110 that looked more like they knew what they were doing than the Hobie 20 was a better plan. The weeds, lighter air, and taking the time to rig up the GoPro helped with that.”
You can see in the video the Hobie 20 rounding the weather mark first, followed closely by Weston and an International 110. Weston eventually pulled out all the stops and caught a few good puffs downwind, and after taking stabs at a few finish lines before getting the right one, crossed in first. (Note for next year, ask for Sailing Instructions).
An International 110 (oddly named Gator Coffins) eventually won with adjusted time due to the brutal handicap handed to the Weta Class. (The 110 is a very old yet sleek and sporty sailboat designed in 1939 by C. Raymond Hunt (Boston Whaler). People familiar with 110's don't understand why people think the concept of sportboats is a new one, as the 110 with its redesigned assymetrical gigantic kite is hard to beat with flat bottom dead downwind speed. Yet again, so is the Weta).
To note, Weston was the only boat without a crew, as the other two Wetas carried a spare warm body for hiking power.
“It was a blast of a race, my first mixed fleet race in 40 years. A great tune up for the Nationals at RYC in October. Inverness YC is a beautiful place to sail with super friendly club members and great barbecues post race. I’ll be back next year and hopefully will get wind all the way through so I can kick the handicap. Weta’s definitely have a turbo gear when the whitecaps pipe up. Great race track. Super fun boat!”