Dick Hitchcock & Gizmo
February 07th, 2019
Weta sailors officially came out of winter hibernation in time for Florida’s 10th annual Charlotte Harbor Regatta on February 1-3.
On Thursday, the picturesque Port Charlotte beach quickly became jam packed as Wetas arrived becoming the largest fleet in this three day event. Later that afternoon, Howard Paul, exhausted before racing began, is seen taking a nap on the picnic table while Gizmo the Sailor Pup guards his beverage. Did she take a sip? Only a few know the answer to that question.
After not racing for a few years, Weta Trimarans of Florida dealer, Dick Hitchcock was psyched to be out on the water again with his beautiful Caribbean blue spinnaker. In addition, newcomer, Michele Schott experienced her first class event as crew for Phil Styne on his new Weta, Rumble Bee. After being welcomed with open arms, she can’t wait to come back and buzz around with the swarm. Finally, Bill Frissell came down from Ohio to escape the midwest frozen tundra and bask in the warm Florida sun.
On day one of racing, Bob Hodges aka Robert Hughes (no relation to Howard) traded first and second with light air specialist Knox Rodgers the two time defending regatta champion. After floating for over thirty minutes during an on the water postponement, it appeared what little sea breeze existed had disappeared for the day. While the rest of the fleet waited and waited for another two hours, Stephanie and Alan Taylor asked for a tow in and were unanimously voted “smartest sailors in the fleet”. By the time everyone hit the beach, they were relaxing and enjoying beverages in their zero gravity chairs.
Weta sailors divided and conquered Friday evening with half going to a local restaurant to get their hungry bellies full while the other half were hanging in the Clubhouse with the Hobie fleet watching racing footage from the day.
On day two, Kim Higgs started off in the lead by being the “most eager” to sail, departing three times and getting summoned back to the beach for postponements. No one minded hanging out and socializing in the shade as a view of glassy water so perfect for slalom skiing was seen by all. Alan Taylor and Bob Hodges took full advantage of this down time and started jamming some tunes on their guitars. When races finally got underway, some interesting things happened. In race two, a cluster ensued as John Heizer played bumper boats in the light air with Phil Sanders after accidentally getting blown over on port tack at the start. This then had a domino effect on Cliff Peshek and Kim Higgs down the line. Current played a factor especially at the weather mark. Some never learned that it was better to over stand than to fall short and drift into the mark time and time again.
At the regatta dinner, Wetas provided rum for Painkillers, Roger Kitchen’s favorite. We know he was drooling all the way from Auckland! As the evening progressed, the Wetas sailors were having so much fun hanging out that they lost track of time and were told they would have to wash dishes if they didn’t take their party somewhere else for the evening. They couldn’t get out the door any faster!
On day three, fog filled the parking lot and the Wetas could barely be been a few feet away on the beach. Another postponement horn sounded, as they waited for the fog to burn off. Over a third of the fleet skipped the last race for varying reasons. Bob Hodges was so far ahead that he used it as his throwout. Since John Heizer had a plane to catch back to Canada, he relinquished his current third place standing. On shore, he did his best impression of this season’s Bachelor, Colton Underwood with his outdoor shower next to his van.
After getting in eight light air races over the three day event, Bob Hodges, Knox Rodgers, Rick Sylvester and John Heizer were the top finishers in the group of sixteen Weta sailors. As the sun set, on the 10th Annual Charlotte Harbor Regatta, thoughts of next year entered many minds when we’ll be back and ready for more.
By Stephanie Taylor
Photos charlotteharborregatta.com & Stephanie Taylor