October 25th, 2016
Weta Swarm/Nationals at Weston Sailing Club, Southampton, UK - weekend of 16-18 September, 2016.
As new Weta owners, we (Mark, Thomas and I) approached our first Weta Swarm with a mixture of excitement and nervousness - would it rain all weekend? would Mark be able to manage the boat on his own? the UK in Autumn can be unpredictable..
Thankfully the weather behaved itself! it stayed dry on the Friday when everyone arrived to setup their tents, caravans and boats; provided strong winds on the Saturday and then lighter winds on the Sunday when the sun came out and the weather was glorious - especially for mid-September! Luckily, it also stayed dry all weekend - nice if you're in a tent - before pouring down on Monday when we were all safety back home.
There were a lot of boats down at Weston - several Catamaran classes were there as part of their national racing programme, plus local boats and of course eight Wetas. It made for a busy weekend both on and off the water - but the cat sailors were a friendly bunch and brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the sailing, drinking, dinners and dancing!
Friday night was a fish and chips supper and drinks which went down very well - apart from with poor Thomas who was up during the night (I think his mum's oven-made F&C are a lot less greasy than the chip shops).
Mark had only sailed his Weta once before (helped by Pete) and had never raced at all, so there was a lot to learn for him as he went out solo into Saturday's strong winds (Northerly 15-20 kts, gusting 25). Wisely, he decided to go out with only the mainsail rigged and managed to make his way without incident around the sailing area - thoroughly enjoying himself - although with no idea where the course was.. the strong winds made for exhilarating sailing for everyone else.
Saturday night was drinks in the clubhouse followed by a curry, then a band and dancing for the brave. Many thanks to Weston who did a great job of organising the whole weekend - even going so far as to arrange a daily parade of majestic cruise ships (including the Queen Mary 2) for our viewing from the beautiful meadow next to the clubhouse where we'd set up tent.
Sunday provided sunshine but only light winds (Northerly 5 to 10 kts) which meant the sailors tended to drift around a bit rather than the charging of the previous day. Mark felt sufficiently emboldened to rig and deploy all three sails on his boat and noticeably gained in confidence through the weekend (if not actual skill!).
The prize-giving ceremony saw Tony receive the coveted 'clanger bell' award for trying to sneak his Weta into Weston's boat-park by going through the security fence and also 3rd prize too, George got 2nd (though perhaps he should also get a prize for distance travelled as Southampton was just a way-point for him on his trip from Scotland to Germany!) with Charles shooting up the score-board from last year to scoop 1st place. Weta class AGM followed on with news of next year's swarm in Cornwall to look forward to.
We enjoyed our first chance to meet the very friendly fellow Weta owners and had a great weekend. Mark certainly learned a lot and is impressed with the Weta's versatility - and speed! A big thank-you from all to Pete and Weston for organising everything.