June 18th, 2015
A dozen Wetas gathered at Weston Sailing Club in bright sunshine and a fresh breeze for their first ever regatta weekend which was therefore designated 'the Nationals'. The Weta is the world's largest insect and gatherings of the class are referred to as swarms. About half the participants elected to sail single-handed, some chose to sail double-handed, some changed crew complement according to the wind strength and one boat was helmed by a wheelchair user in an adapted seat.
There was an onshore breeze of over twenty knots on the first day which made launching tricky and stretched the boat handling skills of the participants, some of whom had not sailed together before. There was a capsize before the start of the first race and then a rather frenetic hour around a course which contained two long beam reaches on each lap – right in the multihull 'death zone'. The fleet was led by a considerable margin by Charles Strick sailing singlehanded but, of the remainder, the double-handed boats appreciated the extra weight and did best. The wind rose further during the second race which was abandoned.
On Sunday the wind was much lighter and flukier which suited the singlehanders. A couple of good starts and some luck with the shifts gave George Morris two wins which, with a discard available to nullify the previous day's seventh place, was enough for the championship.
The event was not, however, entirely about racing - it was more about getting the rather thinly-spread Weta Diaspora together for a sail and a bit of socializing. The meadow next to the host club was an ideal site for camping, camper vans and some al fresco conviviality on what was probably the warmest weekend of the year to date.
The Weta's creator, Roger Kitchen came over from New Zealand and donated a spinnaker as a spot prize. The youngest crew, from Bristol, was a husband and wife team in their early thirties; the oldest a 72 year old who towed his boat all the way from Inverness.
By George Morris
Photos Pete Cailes