September 25th, 2023
The 2023 UK Wētā Swarm was once again hosted by the Rock Sailing and Water Ski Club.
While we had a small number of entries again this year it was still an amazing get together of keen owners who had journeyed from across the UK, and one entry from a Brit based in Australia who came to race after attending the Wētā Euro Cup in L'Escala, Costa Brava, Spain.
Those who had been watching the forecast for the weekend ahead knew that the shakedown day on Friday was likely to be epic sailing conditions, and epic it was.
Friday at the UK Wētā Swarm 2023
Four boats were on the beach being rigged first thing in the morning with anticipation to get on the water and enjoy the clear skies and good breeze that was averaging 15-18 knots and gusting to mid-twenties.
The club kindly put on a rescue RIB to patrol the area and a plan was hatched to sail from the beach and down the Camel River into the area off Daymer Bay. First off the beach was Steve T and Heather sailing double handed while the rest of the fleet were still rigging - the benefits of having a crew to help rig meaning they wasted no time to get out there. They were having a good blast around the harbour area until they stuffed the bow in but kept the boat upright, however the result was a slightly wearier approach to the rest of the session.
Steve H (Kiwi) from Adrenawind Sports was next out but only briefly before heading back to shore to re-tension a slipped Jib Halyard and adapt his mainsheet bridal that wasn't quite working as it should. In the meantime, the remaining two Wētā with Patrick sailing Triton and Paul sailing Flaming Galah had made their way out on to Padstow Harbour.
Kiwi Steve, now sorted, then headed back out to join the others. With the breeze blowing straight down the bay he negotiated his way down the channel and promptly sailed out to where he thought they were in the bay. This offered great sailing with some decent breaking waves rolling in on top of a swell of 1-2 metres. It was only when he had reached as far as Daymer Bay that he had realise the sails he could see in the distance were in fact windsurfers and Wing Foilers and not the other Wētā. Once around the Channel marker it was a downwind sail back to the harbour navigating the rollers in the shallower areas of the bay as well as the inevitable chop created by the wind against the now outgoing tide.
Once back in the harbour area there were no other Wētā in view and the question was 'where is everybody?'
Steve and Heather had gone ashore, Patrick and Paul were nowhere to be seen until they were spotted sailing back from 'Upriver'. After just over an hour in testing conditions everyone was back to shore with big smiles and looking forward to the infamous Rock Sailing Club Fish & Chip night and the racing the next day.
Saturday dawned and we now had Andy M join us on the beach after arriving the night before. After a quick briefing from our Race Officer about the course (windward/leeward, with a spreader at the top and a gate at the bottom of the course with a reach to the finish) and conditions for the day we sailed out on to bay which was now much calmer than the day before. The breeze was a nice 10-12 knots which meant everyone had enough to be hiking out for the first race of three, and it gradually built for each race with us finishing with 12-15 gusting high teens with maybe the odd sneaky 20 something for good measure if you got it.
After a clean start by everyone Paul and Patrick got away and promptly left everyone to follow – unfortunately they sailed to the windward spreader mark and not the first mark which meant it closed the fleet again as they corrected their mistake and sailed back to the first mark still holding their positions with Andy M being lead astray and following them.
The two Steves were not far behind after this mishap, and everyone headed off back down the course enjoying some great gennaker sailing conditions.
After three windward leeward laps the fleet were still quite close and as we went through the leeward gate for the last time Patrick had secured the first win with Paul crossing second, with Kiwi just overhauling Andy by less than a boat length as they rounded the mark and reached to the finish line side by side.
The windward mark was moved with a slight swing in wind direction, which meant the course length was slightly shorter as we tucked up towards the shore at Harbour Cove.
Another clean start by everyone saw everyone racing towards the newly laid mark with Paul leading the way. Between races Kiwi had tweaked his troublesome mainsheet setup so it was much more effective, and he was now able to match the height the others were sailing, so he was right in the mix.
At the top mark it was Paul leading the way with Kiwi and Patrick in pursuit and Andy and Steve not far behind. The wind had built, and the increased gusts meant working the lanes down the course brought gains or losses.
After a couple of laps Paul and Kiwi had managed to create a bit of a gap on Patrick and were firmly fixed in a battle for the same piece of water coming into the final mark, leading to contact and the resulting penalty – as Paul sailed cleanly across the line Kiwi completed his penalty and got across the line for second, followed by Paul, Andy, and Steve T.
After race two Steve T decided to call it day and went back to the club leaving the others to battle it out on the course. It was another clean start but still very tightly bunched as we went over the line.
Paul worked a nice little break with Patrick matching him slightly down to leeward. Andy and Kiwi followed through the line and looked for an opening to get through.
However, it wasn’t long before Paul and Kiwi picked up where they left of in race two and at the top mark there was nothing between them with Patrick also ready to attack if either made a tactical error or made any form of mistake. Andy seemed to have got lost and sailed well past the windward layline and appeared to be heading to the beach – it turned out the conditions were to much for his jib and the head eyelet decided to part company with the jib and down it came - meaning he was out of the race.
Paul and Kiwi continued to exchange places on every leg. Approaching the gate for the final time Paul managed to roll over the top and looked to have the win. Kiwi wasn’t giving up though and picked up a great gust allowing him to lift the bow a bit and accelerated back over the top but was being held out by Paul as they closed in on the leeward gate. Kiwi created some workable distance and timed a gybe back on to starboard and headed straight at the mark with the inside overlap for room. Paul couldn’t quite keep clear meaning Kiwi had to dip and then pinch to get around the mark with a hail of ‘protest’ as Paul sailed through the line for the win – or was it?
A protest was notified to the Race Committee and once ashore it was settled over a gentlemanly chat between Paul and Kiwi, along with the RO, and Paul graciously retired from the race meaning Kiwi had the win.
With high winds predicted to start the day and only likely to increase to the 30-40knot range it was decided racing was to be abandoned which meant any outcome would be based on Saturday’s race results only.
How it finished-
With 3 winners from three races, and allowing for a discard, the top three places were all tied on 3 points each, so it came down to countback on the final race.
That meant Kiwi took the overall win for the 2023 Wētā Swarm with the win in the last race, with Patrick finishing second and Paul third.
It was a great weekend of sailing, socialising, and general Cornish hospitality from our hosts at Rock Sailing and Water Ski Club.
A massive thanks to Martin Hough and his Race Committee and the guys volunteering on safety cover for the event, without them we couldn’t enjoy such a great event.
Let's not forget our man on the ground, Patrick, for liaising with the club and getting it all organised.
Thanks also to The Point Holidays for supporting us with goodies for each participant and prizes. https://thepointholidays.co.uk/
By Steve Harvey
If you would like to join the UK Wētā fleet or simply want to know more about the boat, get in contact by visiting www.adrenawindsports.co.uk