February 01st, 2019
McCrae Yacht Club 26th and 27th January 2019
Photos | sailingshots.com.au
Four Wetas registered for the first regatta to be promoted by AWCA in Victoria. The regatta was for all OTB classes and 80-85 boats turned out. We asked the Race Officer for two lap windward/leeward courses similar to the World Masters experience as it allows for more racing options downwind.
The race committee scheduled us for Alpha course just off the South Channel sharing water with Flying A class, Taipans of all descriptions, a few other fast cats and the I14/B14 skiffs. It made for some interesting racing having to dodge some of these guys, but no disasters and we’d elect to do it all again the same way. As it happened, the Wetas ended up being in a division by themselves so there was plenty of room on the start line!
I have great respect for people who can remember each leg of a race… I certainly can’t so this is my best recollection and apologies in advance for any errors or omissions! If anyone points out glaring inaccuracies, I’m more than happy to revise!
Wetas from Frankston were Andrew & Faye in 968, Colin & Louise in 1218 and Peter & Judy, who only bought their Weta a couple of months ago, in 1219. Rob made the trip from Sandringham and recruited Bruce to sail two-up (like the rest of us) in 1134.
Day 1 – Three races scheduled and a great looking forecast of 10-12knts from the SSW. Unfortunately, the wind didn’t play and we ended up with light and variable winds of less than 10knts. Beautiful blue skies though and spectacular views of ships up and down the South Channel!
Race 1 – Winds were dropping as we started but we managed to get across the line together and most elected to head off to the right where the cats seemed to be doing well. Rob and Colin picked the best of things to round the top mark ahead of Andrew with Peter following. In order to mix things up, Andrew gybed off to the right side of the course looking for better breeze and came into the bottom gate with the incoming tide well ahead. Collin and Rob continued to challenge each other around the second lap with Rob getting the goods by the time they reached the finish.
Results – Andrew 1st, Rob 2nd, Colin 3rd, Peter 4th
Race 2 – Winds still light and variable made for some challenging sailing with holes on the course. Clear start with Rob taking the lead followed by Colin. Andrew took a flyer early on the first leg that didn’t pay off and rounded in third. The middle part is a bit of a blur of trying to find some decent breeze although Rob and Colin stayed in touch with each other. Second time around the top mark, both Rob and Colin headed out to the right side of the course for wind and tide. Rob did the best and finished ahead. Andrew had some better breeze out on the left coming in on port gybe but Colin caught him on starboard and closed the door for second place by a boat length. Unfortunately, the wind died on Peter during the last downwind and missed the time limit and was scored DNF. Results – Rob 1st, Colin 2nd, Andrew 3rd, Peter 4th
The RO held us on the course for a while before deciding the wind wasn’t coming back and called it a day – racing postponed until tomorrow.
Day 2 – The forecast for Sunday was a lovely 10-12knts from the West then abating around noon, so the RO amended the Sailing Instructions to get us out of bed early for a 10am start. We woke up to see 23knts+ in the South Channel with wind against tide, so it was going to be an interesting morning!
Race 3 – The wind dropped marginally to 18-20knts by the time we left the beach and headed for the course area although the waves were nice and steep. Good start right on 10am. Rob and Andrew sailed out to the left separated by about a boat width with Andrew to windward and Colin close behind. Andrew was first to tack away and when coming back together near the top mark, Rob had worked is way into the lead (again!). Andrew worked the downwind leg best to round the bottom gate in the lead, but only just as both Rob and Colin weren’t far away. Rob again showed his class upwind to lead at the top mark whilst Colin had to drop his gennaker to sort out a bad furl which set him back for the race. Andrew had another good downwind leg heading for the finish with some good surfing on offer but Rob held on for the win – only by two boat lengths. We all agreed the racing was close! Results – Rob 1st, Andrew 2nd, Colin 3rd, Peter 4th
Race 4 – Wind was dropping slightly but the seas were still up which made for some challenges upwind. Colin had an absolute cracker of a start just in front and to windward of both Andrew and Rob. No option to stay there so first Andrew tacked away and then Rob. Colin was first into the top mark closely followed by Rob then Andrew and Peter. Rob got ahead of Colin on the first downwind to lead at the bottom gate. Some good tacking duels on the next upwind saw Rob retain the lead but Colin and Andrew headed into the top mark together. Colin got the inside running to be a boat length ahead going into the last downwind. Andrew again gybed away looking for something special and was rewarded with some good waves. By the time we converged on the centre of the course, Rob was marginally in front of Andrew with Colin a little way back and Peter a bit further. Catching a last wave about 50m from the finish line saw Andrew pull level with Rob as he gybed for the line. Depending on who’s telling the story, the gap was either half a boat-length or half a bow-sprit. Good closing racing and Rob swears he was 10m away from a heart attack! Peter had a good race keeping in touch around the course as well. Results – Rob 1st, Andrew 2nd (but thought he might be first!), Colin 3rd, Peter 4th
With the wind dropping during race 4, the RO sent us all ashore for lunch and to see what the wind would do. We covered the McCrae beach front with half rigged boats whilst munching on gourmet sausages and dozing in the shade until, as the wind dropped out completely, all further racing was abandoned. With four races done, one drop came into effect with the best three to count.
Ronstan put on a great show of support to cover the free BBQ dinner on Australia Day, arranged a media boat on the course as well as putting up prizes for all divisions at the presentation after sailing – handed out by Glenn Ashby I should add. If you said I’d be shaking hands with a multiple world champion and America’s Cup winning skipper at the end of this regatta I wouldn’t have believed you!
All crews – Andrew & Faye, Colin & Louise, Peter & Judy and Rob & Bruce – had a great chat after racing to relive the highs of both days. I swear an extra 10m of race course in that last race would have seen Rob and I on equal points!
This was the first time we promoted a regatta for all Weta owners in Victoria and our goal was to get more local boats interested in racing together regularly. Ronstan have indicated that they want to make the Australia Day regatta at McCrae a key event in the OTB calendar and have already said they will support the event in 2020. We will recommend to the Australian Weta Class Assoc committee that the Australia Day regatta at McCrae next year be considered the first official Victoria state Weta titles and invite all AWCA members to participate. Ten boats and over will guarantee our own start!
We also encourage Vic Weta owners to make some suggestions to come together for racing again… I understand Rob is keen after racing against other Wetas for the first time! We’d encourage all owners to sign up for membership of the AWCA and join the Australian Weta Class facebook group so they can keep in touch.
In the meantime, Frankston has seven boats in the yard and a core group of four Wetas racing on most Saturday afternoons and all are welcome to join us!
Thanks again to all the participants at McCrae, we had a blast with good races, close finishes and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience!
PHOTO | SAILINGSHOTS.COM.AU