Friendly, social and competitive Weta weekend!

June 19th, 2015

In the shadows of the world's great ocean going liners a gathering took place in Southampton water on 6/7th June of somewhat smaller vessels.

The U.K.'s Weta National Championships came to the south coast of England and was hosted by the Weston Sailing Club. Enthusiastic participants began arriving during the afternoon of Friday 6th June to rig and prepare their boats for the battle whilst setting up their camp site adjacent to the club itself. Home comforts do take centre stage ! They came from some distance to test their sailing skills but none further then Weta Marine founder Roger Kitchen, who flew in from New Zealand ! The U.K.'s Weta Importer Simon Currey was also in attendance having scrambled down from the dizzy heights of Surrey. Following the initial preparations the competitors all tucked in to a British Friday night  tradition of fish and chips washed down with a few beers. Tales of previous sailing exploits kept the conversation going well into the evening as everyone got to know each other whilst assessing the relative skills of those attending.

Bright and sunny conditions greeted the competitors on Saturday morning who were faced with a moderate south west breeze offering near perfect conditions. Following a 11.30 am briefing racing got underway around 12.45 with the wind increasing to a testing force 4 or 5. The intention was to compete in back to back races although other club racers were sharing the water at the same time. With winds strengthening to force 6 racing, which included a capsize and a couple of retirements, together with most of the club racers, forced the abandonment of proceedings after the two races. Heard in the bar during the evening amongst other tales, " the rib went out to convey the abandonment decision but couldn't catch the Weta's." The Saturday evening entertainment consisted of another British tradition of curry and few more beers whilst retelling the excitement of the day's action until late.

Sunday provided a different set of circumstances with clear blue skies and light, variable north/ north easterly winds. A noon briefing led to a racing start 45 minutes later. These conditions favoured the single handed boats which was the reverse of Saturday's conditions where two person crews had the edge. The friendly, social atmosphere in the bar was equally matched by the competitiveness of those sailing. The back to back races concluded at around 3.30 pm when everyone adjourned to the clubhouse for the prize giving which was presented by regatta organiser Pete Cailes. The U.K. National Championship crown went to George Morris with runner up Tony Curtis whilst John Fairclough grabbed third place and all were delighted with their trophies. The additional spot prize of a new gennaker was provided by Weta Marines' Roger Kitchen and went to Leanne and Mark Jones from Bristol. Apart from the trophies on offer everyone was delighted to sport a T shirt or cap promoting the varied sponsors of the weekend.

However the trophy everyone secretly yearned to win was the "Clanger Bell". This was scooped by Ian Crawford and Lindsay Sprott for their balletic capsize despite a late attempt by Roger Kitchen to gain an advantage by donning his borrowed wetsuit back to if it would not have been noticed ! All the participants enjoyed varied and challenging conditions which highlighted the versatility of the Weta. Everyone thanked the sailing club for hosting a brilliant few days, vowing to come back again following a tremendous weekend's sailing and new friends made. Smiles were seen on the faces of those traveling back home through the traffic. Plans are already underway for next year's event at Rock in Cornwall (Rock'n Roll 2016).

Organiser and enthusiastic competitor Pete Cailes said afterwards "following a lot of preparation I am delighted at the success of the event, seeing everyone happy and at one stage spotting 11 Weta's, all at the same time on the water was payment itself. I cannot thank the Weston Sailing Club enough for their organisation and hospitality over this weekend. I can now take a break and prepare for Cornwall"

By Weta Class UK

Photos John Watts

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