Bluster on the Bay, Florida

January 23rd, 2019

Weta Class North America kicked off their 2019 sailing season in St. Petersburg, Florida at the third annual Bluster on the Bay Regatta January 19-21.

As sailors arrived and rigged on Friday, Hobie Sailor Ken Hiik was jamming the tunes contributing to a chill vibe on this bright, sunny day. After rigging, a few Hobies and a Weta sailed on Friday, enjoying the sunshine and light winds. The Mid-Atlantic Fleet mascot, Gizmo the Sailor Pup drew lots of attention as she lounged on her Weta tramp throughout the afternoon.

With the forecast of a front coming through Saturday night, the skippers meeting for Saturday morning was moved up to 0900 with the idea of jamming in as many races as possible. At the gun, the Weta Fleet all sailed with their newly approved square top mains and needed every bit of sail area in this light air race that was somewhat reminiscent of the 2018 Alter Cup. Higgs and Team Taylor had good starts on port tack. To get clear air, Heizer tacked away to the right-hand side of the course.  The wind remained light but steady until after all 3 Wetas rounded the weather mark.  At this time, the Hobie 16s were rounding their weather mark set another several hundred yards up wind.  Then the breeze pretty much died. After almost an hour of bobbing, the course was shortened as the new wind brought up all the Hobies and Wetas together for a very crowded finish at the leeward gate. It was nearly a photo finish with John Heizer and Team Taylor with Stephanie at the helm. In the end, Heizer won by the end cap on his bowsprit.

As the sea breeze started to fill in, winds ranged out of the SSE from low teens to upper in the gusts for the remainder of the day with a 2 foot chop on the shallow waters of the Bay. With the rising tide providing a current pretty much down the starboard layline and more wind at the top of the course, the right-hand side kept paying.  The starts were close and the leaders mixed, but Heizer had all bullets with Team Taylor in second. After five races, the Wetas called it a day.

The Wetas got noticed not only by race committee but by the other sailors as they were keeping up with and, in the case of Heizer, beating the top Hobie 14s. On shore, a Weta buzz was within the Hobie fleet.

Party goer and organizer Dick HItchcock, the Weta Trimarans of Florida dealer, hosted a fleet pub crawl Saturday night that started out at “The Lost Kangaroo”. Although, Howard Paul almost got lost going to “The Wounded Kangaroo”.

Led by Gizmo the Sailor Pup, a quick half mile hike down the street to Motorworks Brewing was the next stop of the evening. After our bellies were filled from the food truck fare, Gizmo entertained all with her dancing skills as she moved and grooved on the table top.

As the cold front moved in, Sunday was a blowout with the predicted gusts of 35+ all day. The fleet got to rest and relax with some afternoon football before heading to the regatta dinner.

Monday dawned clear and cool.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, just chilly, spray jacket and wetsuit definitely required. Three races were sailed with 9-14kts winds out of NNE.  The windward mark was near shore and the breeze approaching that mark was shifty and tricky.  Some gust came with a big shift, some didn’t. It felt like inland lake sailing.

After a few weeks of rigging tips and some sailing practice with other fleet members, Kim Higgs was named most improved Weta sailor as he singlehanded this regatta.

For those that shied away due to the weather, they missed out on some great days of sun, sailing and socialization. We’re looking forward to the incredible Hobie hospitality in 2020. Don’t miss out!

By Stephanie Taylor & John Heizer

Photo album here

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