Awesome sailing at NZ WetaFest 2021 - Roger Kitchen

April 28th, 2021


Finally after a crazy year of lockdowns and uncooperative weather we had a weekend of great sailing despite a tough first day. When you have dedicated Weta sailors making the long trek from the South Island for WetaFest you really want to make the event worthwhile. 

25 Weta entered this year's WetaFest at Torbay. We had a good mix of single and double handed sailors with some returning for the first time after the 2017 World Masters Games which held very fond memories. Saturday was a little on the edge with wind in the mid twenties with the gusts stretching beyond the comfort zone. A few crews wished they had checked their mainsheet ties and secured their halyards more carefully and most crews certainly regretted not furling their gennakers well before the gate. 

The Torbay Sailing Club patrol boats were kept busy assisting the Weta return to their intended upright position with Chris Kitchen and Josh McCormack offering advice and filming their adventures. Mike Pearce decided to gybe sitting on the leeward side in a gust at the gate and patiently crossed the finish line clinging on to the centreboard. Paula Pickard, our resident WSA race officer performed flawlessly carefully counting the boats and recording the finishers. She wisely decided to abandon racing so we could regroup, lick the wounds and have a debrief. Mark Sutherland was given the abandon flag as he was needing to hold his hand up high as he was hemorrhaging blood from a wounded hand. Rex Sellers had thrown him “lunch” in a thin plastic bag which contained just spare rope, shackles and a long fisherman’s knife.

After a very productive debrief on the shore discussing rigging and sailing techniques it was decided to focus on the dinner, start early the next day and sadly abandon the destination sail as we needed more races to make a contest. Terry Bailey was happy to take the trophy and run.

The next day was awesome with wind in the mid teens and gusts to keep you focused.

Our format was simple. Windward leewards, two laps with three minute starts and a target race time of 20 minutes. What could go wrong? Bryan Roberts had a simple strategy. Short races so if you finish first you have time for a snack between races. Clean start, pick the shifts, furl the gennaker before the gate and cross the line up the right way. It was a masterclass display, with one drop he had six bullets.

It was great to see the sailors, who do not normally race, really enjoying the contest. It was also good to see the double handers right up in the fleet as the wind strengthened. Watching the two orange South Island crews having a dog fight downwind was just great. Mark Yardley relished the stronger conditions as he sails out of Evans Bay. Alex Felgate was well rewarded with second place for his consistency.

We would like to thank the Torbay Sailing Club for assisting the NZ Weta Class Association in running this regatta and all the sailors who came to WetaFest.

By Roger Kitchen

Photos Joshua McCormack ( Day 1 Day 2 - Part 1 Day 2 - Part 2
(Email for a high res photos. Click on the "info icon" to get the photo ID. For example "P1002199.jpg").

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