January 23rd, 2023
Bluster on the Bay this has been a great regatta in Melbourne for the past few years and first Wētā event of the season. Mark and Lisa Herendeen and their team put together a fantastic event out of Riverview Park very convenient to downtown Melbourne and the local Melbourne Yacht Club. The event provided dinner each evening at the event site, access to an Axe Throwing venue and a party at the Melbourne Yacht Club. Additionally, they were able to secure a number of RV spots for folks camping. Thursday night, Terry Crockett (chef extraordinaire) whipped up a nice lamb stew to warm up the guys that arrived early.
On the race side, the Bluster on the Bay lived up to it’s name with over 60 multi-hulls in attendance. Wētā attendance grew nicely from 5 boats last year to 9 this year. We welcome newcomers to the Florida fleet – Keith MacDonald, Marion(Marty) Black, and Urban Patterson!
On Friday with the forecast at 10-15, the fleet left the beach on a beautiful sunny afternoon with temps in the low 60’s. As the breeze picked up, Marty and Urban decided to sail together. Prior to the race Richard was feeling something wasn’t right with his boat, and found a rock lodged in is centerboard case and had to retire prior to racing. The wind picked up as each fleet started. There were two courses set up – a longer one for A-Cat’s and H-16’s and an inner course for Wētā’s and H-Waves. As we started, the wind progressively picked up through the race with a few gusts over 30. Pete Merrifield happened to catch one of these monster gusts as he finished and suffered a pitch-pole capsize. Due to the increased winds, no more races were sailed on Friday.
Friday evening the event hosts provided a full dinner of BBQ pork and chicken and a keg of beer. Tired sailors gathered at the pavilion for great food and camaraderie. Later most of the Wētā guys got together between a few of the RV’s for a little campfire and conversation.
Saturday turned into a lay day with morning temperatures in the high 30’s and winds continuing to blow in the high 20’s. While there was no sailing, it gave us the opportunity to explore downtown Melbourne which was less than a mile away; also, the regatta team moved up the Ax Throwing social to mid-afternoon with a party at Melbourne Yacht Club in the evening.
Sunday started cold (for Florida) and breezy. We were able to get 3 more races in on Sunday for a total of 4 for the regatta. Bill Swanson snuck into the regatta party on Saturday evening – missing the heavy breeze on Friday. He came out swinging on Sunday and almost won the regatta with a 2-1-2 on Sunday (with a throwout). If it weren’t for a tough weather mark rounding in the last race, it might have happened. The breeze lightened and the temps rose as the day went on. As race 4 progressed best friends Devin and Cliff couldn’t stay away from each other, and had a tough run in on a weather leg in an errant Starboard / Port incident.
For the past two years that this regatta has been hosted in Melbourne, the leadership has really done a great job putting together a nice event. It’s a great way to get the season going and get the rust off before the NOOD. If you have the opportunity, it’s worth the trip.
By Peter Merrifield