Sailing legends go head to head at NZ WetaFest 2017

March 07th, 2017

Manly Sailing Club was the host for this year's 9th NZ Weta National Championships.

32 sailors came to race at WetaFest to prepare for the World Masters Games being held April 21-30. The sailors ranged in experience and included some of NZ’s sailing legends notably Rex Sellers along with Kim and Terry McDell. At the other end of the age spectrum, Lucy and Stella Bilger, sailed in their 6th year together without their dad Jon who "didn’t cut" their crew list.

The magic location, good breeze and happy sailors made the event really enjoyable. The fleet was evenly split between the double and single handed crews.

Brent and Sarina Gribble sent a warning signal to all double handed sailors competing at the WMG that another crew would have to be good-very good-to take a race off them. Their consistency, synergy and skill were a pleasure to watch.

The single handed was hotly contested, especially between John and Will Cobb. Discussions went long into the night. 2016 Weta champion Phil Scherer came through strongly with only minimal training in Tauranga. Rex Sellers did not disappoint, taking to the Weta like a dog to a bone he gave a master class in sailing a boat to its potential. Having a double Olympic medalist (Gold, Silver in the Tornado) in the fleet has certainly lifted the standard. Rex’s training partners Andrew May and Chris Sharp are two of our Rio Paralympic sailors (Sonar, fourth place). Andrew and Chris are keeping Rex on his toes and we greatly appreciate Rex giving his time and expertise to these two incredible sailors.

When approaching the finish line in race three in first place, Rex parted company with his Weta. In a split second he considered the rules…. does he hold on to his boat or his favourite blue pants. He chose his boat…good on you Rex.

The destination race on day 2 was sailed from Manly, around the pole off Orewa river finishing at Waiwera beach. David Turkington aka DT decided his bottom needed (another) clean 20m after the start, he took it on the chin and just talked quietly to himself although I did recognise a couple of words. There were some geography lessons learnt and Sean delivered a box of tricks putting the finish 50m off the beach making conditions super tricky. Thanks Sean. Will set a scorching pace and thought Hatfield’s beach would be a better lunch spot. Gary and Hugh hove to in the magnificent raft of birds taking in the very best that this sparkling coastline has to offer. We kept them some lunch.
Some good puffs of wind on the return home, especially when rounding the Orewa pole which was good viewing as it required a tight Gennaker reach to the finish. Everyone remained upright including DT who bagged a second place! Awesome.

Special thanks to PredictWind for supplying the prize vouchers, Manly Sailing Club and all the sailors who supported the event!

We now have 4 weeks of racing at Torbay to prepare for the WMG!! Time on the water is gold!

By Roger Kitchen

Overall results

Single and Double Handed results

Photo gallery - Luis Kitchen

Photo gallery 2 - Chris Fahey

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