Jonathan 7000 Feet up Photo Amanda Weston
July 03rd, 2017
Last weekend 6 Wetas convened on Huntington Lake, 7000 feet up on the western side of the Sierras, outside of Fresno, California. We had a great weekend of racing as part of the Fresno Yacht Club's Commodore's Open Classic regatta. In years past, when there was water in the lake, we've had a Weta fleet of 12 to 15 boats. After a few dry years, were down a few participants but we hope to reverse this trend.
This year race management was conducted by the West Coasts Multihull Racing Association (MHRA) and it was PRO Marks first time running the races. Sadly dozens of Hobie 16s and Hobie 20s were off at their North Americans (in South Dakota?!) so the attendance was way down for this event. The upside; fewer problems with the H16 fleet (they seem to love general recalls) fewer instances of rogue H20s (flying through the Weta starts) and a lot more room in the car park to handle the wide Wetas.
Huntington is an alpine lake that stretches nearly 5 miles long, East to West and averages 1/1 mile wide, though there is one bay stretching to the south east another ½ to ¾ of a mile. It sees thermally-generated winds so the hotter the valley gets and the cooler the mountains remain, the heavier the westerly winds may blow. In the summer, the arrival of this wind is so consistent you can almost set your watch to it. Well this year when we expected strong winds associated with extremely high (110 degF!) valley temps we experienced instead atypical winds. On the first day we didn't get the typical build in wind speed as the day wore on. To top it off Race 3 ended with a short lull followed by a 180 degree shift; surely generated by a thunderstorm approaching from the east with 20+ degrees drop in air temp. Lightening, rain, and a sprinkle of hail greeted us in the car park soon after the boats hauled out for the day.
We had more typical but still light winds on second day but the afternoon buildup was absent again.
Huntington knowledge; the long edges of the lake give you lifts as you head to them. You have to tack back toward the center before you lose the breeze along the tree-lined edges. The Left/south side is usually better in the morning. Often theres a flip flop in the afternoon, favoring the right/North side. Crossing the transition zone between these sides is always risky. In lighter conditions, it pays to connect the puffs and stay in the areas where you can see the wind on the water (people call this pressure but I really dislike that reference). At 7000 feet the lower air density reduces the power of the wind. 15kts doesn't kick the boat into gear here, the same way it does back at sea level. Yet, the puffs can arrive quite quickly, and leave you just as fast.
Full race results are here:
Selected Highlights (because my memory is not particularly good)
Race 1 Christophe dominated all the way! Bruce got second.
Race 2 Christophe battled tight with Marc. Bruce trailed behind them.
Race 3 was all Christophe's until that 180 degree wind shift as we approached the final mark. Bruce took advantage of lucky positioning to take the lead. Marc also got around Christophe for second.
On Day 2, Bruce loosened his rig tension and noticed a faster upwind speed, but still not pointing as high as the others. Still, this was a significant improvement; he walked away from Marc and Christophe in first leg of Race 4, and stretched out the lead through the rest of the course.
Race 5 favored the guys who noticed the wind shifting to the right/north side of the lake, and Marc and Christophe took it 1, 2, with late-waking Bruce barely keeping in touch with them to take 3rd.
Race 6 was hard fought up the first beat between Marc, Bruce, and Christophe, with Bruce often trailing both in this longer beat. He got around Christophe by the top mark and he chased Marc around all the others. They split tacks/sides coming in to the final lee mark (buoy 8 at the East end), and Bruce got lucky with a puff and managed to round the mark before Marc. Bruce stretched out the lead and covered Marc almost all the way to the finish.
This was lightweight Weta racing at its best; rewarding good boat handling, a keen eye on the lake conditions and unwavering effort to keep the boat going both upwind and downwind. Heavier crews did not have much fun. Dare I say, the new squaretop main sail might be a good option for the heavyweights?
Hats off to Ben Teitelbaum and his first-time crew Karen Cohen for sailing well in the light stuff and winning the Double Handed fleet. Welcome Back Jonathan "Donutz" Weston who's again sailing on Mike Neidig's boat and is threatening to beat us all in the nukin' conditions, we'll see at Weta Nationals at Cascade Locks, OR.
Donutz sailed with his daughter on Day 1 then kicked her off on Day 2 to steal the 4th Place trophy from Tim Corcoran.
Speaking of trophies...they are very cool LED-illuminated, etched Plexiglas trophies depicting the classic Weta profile line drawing! Not your typical dust collector.
So, it's a wrap. To everyone with a Weta in California who didn't come this year, YOU MISSED OUT on a fantastic weekend away from it all. Dont be lame again: make a commitment to come next year! It's only 3 to 6 hours away from your home base. The mountain air is clear and clean and you need a sailing vacation like this every summer. Christophe and I have already reserved our same campground spaces for next year. Mark the June 23-24 weekend in 2018 and look forward to another fantastic weekend at Huntington Lake.
Now, its time to turn our efforts toward a gathering of the West Coast Wetas in 3 weeks at the Santa Cruz Multihull Regatta. These catamaran regattas that are generously inviting Wetas to join them, and they need our commitments to know they can run the event, so SIGN UP NOW! Info and Sign up here: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/14802
Plus, its not too late to pack the boat and head up to Oregon for Weta Nationals the following weekend in CGRAs One Design Regatta at Cascade Locks. Awards for Double Handed as well as Singles. World class sailing, and phenomenally beautiful scenery of the Columbia River gorge. Info and Sign up here: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/14344
Special thanks to Helga Allie. She was a pivotal member of the race committee as she has for many regattas we have attended over the past couple of years. Helga has generously contributed her time and energy to the smooth operation of these regattas and often helped the PRO make better decisions about courses and other matters regarding our unique boats. We are very fortunate to have her.
Bruce Fleming, Akahele!, #276
President, WCNA Weta Class North America
cell: 858 342-9014
Jonathan chasing Bruce Photo Amanda Weston
LED-illuminated, etched Plexiglas trophy!