Boca Ciega Bay Welcomes Wetas

March 20th, 2019

There’s a first time for everything. Gulfport Yacht Club in Florida hosted their inaugural Weta regatta, March 1-3. Ten Wetas, 7 singlehanded and 3 doublehanded showed up for a weekend of fun. 

Friday afternoon, Weta after Weta pulled in and began rigging while Alan Taylor was jamming the tunes. As evening approached, Club members mingled with the fleet on the clubhouse patio while enjoying some snacks and a few beverages to wash everything down. 

While the course was being set on Saturday morning, boats headed out to Boca Ciega Bay. After getting a quick lesson on racing starts the night before, Ted Danse from Miami was sailing solo on his new custom color seafoam Weta for the first time. The winds were very light and shifty with glassy spots seen throughout the course. If you sailed into one of those holes, it was difficult to regain momentum. With local knowledge at their home Club, the dynamic duo of Tim and Jen French along with Rick Sylvester and Cliff Peshek were more than familiar with these conditions. Nevertheless, conditions don’t seem to matter to Alan Taylor who has been quick to adapt to single handing and quickly took the lead finishing the day with bullets. In addition, an event showstopper was “Lady In Red” aka “Red Rocket” driven by Kim Higgs. We all know red boats are fast. After participating in every regatta since Nationals and all his practice time, Higgs is now near the top of the fleet with Sylvester and Bill Frissell close behind. 

After three races, a scrumptious catered dinner of ribs and all the fixings were inhaled by hungry sailors. The festivities continued well after sunset with Gizmo the Sailor Pup on watch. 

On Sunday, the winds were super light again. As the fleet sailed the course, skippers were ducking moored keelboats and government day marks which made it very interesting. By day two, newcomer Danse sailed the proper course and finished every race. Kudos to him for giving it a go! Taylor seemed to tack on all the shifts and ride it out as he got lifted finishing the weekend with bullets across the board. The Red Rocket gained momentum and was leading in one of the races at the weather mark but lost it on the final downwind leg and finished second overall. 

In the doubled handed fleet, Tim and Jen French ruled their roost. In second, Stephanie Taylor took on monohull sailor Colin Browning as crew. Since it was his first time on the Weta, they spent a lot of time talking about the differences between monohull and multihull sailing. Browning was shocked at how different the sailing angles were. Although Browning said, “This is the most comfortable boat that I’ve ever sailed on. I’ll crew for you anytime.” How’s that for a first time? Following behind, John Redman had GYC’s Fabian Stapleton at the helm. They were so busy having their on the water coffee clutch that they almost sailed off to Sarasota. Most importantly, Redman and Stapleton had that infamous Weta smile when they returned to shore. 

Following in our “green” regatta traditions, sailors were awarded reusable beverage cups which many put to use immediately while polishing off leftovers from the evening before. As everyone got packed up, it was goodbye until next time. A special thanks to sponsor Weta Trimarans of Florida dealer, Dick Hitchcock for his contributions along with our gracious hosts Jen French and Gulfport Yacht Club!

By Stephanie Taylor

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