2018 US Weta Nationals - John Heizer

November 09th, 2018

Congratulations to Bob Hodges, the Weta 2018 US National Single-handed Champion and Stephanie Taylor and Joel Blade the Weta 2018 US National Double-handed Champions.  Bob and Stephanie prevailed in their respective groups after six races sailed over the three days at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron in winds that were moderate to strong except when they weren’t.

On Friday we got in two fast races in wind blowing low teens with gusts to maybe 20kts. Given the short fetch in the South Bay, the chop was about 1’. The race committee got us off the water in plenty of time to put the boats away before the very squally front came through.

Stephanie Taylor won the unofficial, inaugural “This Side Up” award for her and Joel’s efforts in race 2 on Friday. The water in Sarasota Bay is shallow, so don’t ever say she is not a stick in the mud!

On Saturday, we raced 3 races in similar wind conditions to Friday, but with the larger chop getting close to 2’.  Before heading out, I had a nervous stomach due to the wind. I sail mostly in lighter air. By midafternoon, in the second race of the day, there were a couple of lulls to below 10kts and although I was still moving well, I wanted the 20kt gusts back.  I craved another speed fix and was going through adrenaline withdrawals. Fortunately, the wind was back in the third race. Our 2017 Weta National Champion, Jonathan Weston, would have loved the last two days.  But alas, we had no Donutz.

Although we had plenty of breeze, the Weta is such a versatile boat, everyone (except Stephanie) handled the higher gusts well, including our lightest sailors.

Early Sunday morning, the day started out the same as Friday and Saturday; wind gusting to about 20.  By our 11AM start time, the wind had died down to near 5 kts.  The scores were close up and down the fleet, promising exciting racing and the potential for place changes and upsets, but it wasn’t to be.  The wind decreased and the race committee ended the race at the windward mark and cancelled racing the remainder of the day.

Even with the stronger wind, there were very few and minor breakages.  The main things that happened were shackles on mainsheet systems that came unscrewed on two boats and on one boat the rod that holds the rudder down came unscrewed and fell of as that boat was coming to shore, after the rudder was raised.  Locktite may be a good idea. In spite of the strong wind, the only actual breakage I know of was the wire strop on the mainsail halyard that was stuck in the mud……

The local Weta dealer, Dick Hitchcock, was great as usual.  He was chest deep in the water every day helping launch and then catch when we came back in.  Also, he was busy preparing/rigging the charter boats, fixing things and selling sailors new parts.

Also, many thanks to Stephanie Taylor for the hard work of doing an excellent job organizing this regatta in spite of some last-minute schedule changes that were completely out of her control or prediction.

Of course, big thanks to Sarasota Sailing Squadron and their many cheerful volunteers.  This was my 5th time to do a regatta series here and it feels like a second home.

By John Heizer

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