2009 Ronstan NZ Weta Championship attracts big fleet in Rotorua

Mike Bullot, Mike Eaglen and Matt Blakey fight to win the pin end in race 5 - 2009 Ronstan NZ Weta Championship
Chris Kitchen

The 2009 Ronstan Weta National Championships were held at the Rotorua Yacht club over the weekend. On Friday afternoon we started with a coaching session provided by Mike Bullot (runner up in the 2009 Laser Worlds) and Chris Kitchen (2008 Weta New Zealand champion). Despite the cold gloomy weather there was a good turnout of sailors keen to build on their skills.

The weather was perfect with plenty of sun and steady lake breezes. The 18 boat fleet included a wide range of sailors from two year old Lucy to a double world champion.

With a few more boats on the start line this year there was an increase in the number of collisions testing the strength of the boats (fortunately no damage). With the short races, a clean start was vital – however with the nature of downwind asymmetrical sailing you were never out of the race. The races were closer this year with a number of lead changes round the course. One thing was certain that enjoyment levels were high throughout the fleet.


With the event targeting family involvement there was a relaxed atmosphere. It is the only class in NZ where crew changes are welcomed between racing to involve all the family. It was not uncommon to see the first boat round the top mark with a five year old crew releasing the gennaker!

The ‘Bottle Scramble’ this year was changed to a ‘Ball Scramble’ which required 14 Weta’s hunting down the prized balls spread around the lake for spot prizes. With an average crew of four there was no shortage of on-water tactics!


It was a great event giving the whole family a taste (or a full dose) of sailing while at the same time having the opportunity to compete in some top level racing. The Saturday afternoon BBQ was an interesting mix of kids let loose around the Rotorua Yacht Club and some hotly debated conversations on Weta sailing techniques.


The Weta Sailing Association would like to thank event sponsor Ronstan for their ongoing class support including a great spread of prizes and also the Rotorua Yacht Club for their organisation and hospitality.

Here are some reports from the sailors….

'Once again a great event. I always really enjoy this regatta every year and with 20 odd boats this year you had to definitely be on your game. Its been pretty interesting to see over the last three years the level being stepped up as these owners are obviously spending some pretty solid hours learning to make these boats go fast.'
Mike Bullot


'Great to have so many families down at the event, makes for a fun environment both on and off the water. Highlight for the kids was, of course, the bottle race, loads of excitement and many directions given to the skippers to ensure maximum retrieval of those balls! Great prizes and fantastic to have the children so enthused and involved. A busy day, a good feed off the BBQ (the odd beer) and a great view out across the lake, needless to say all slept well at night.'
Dave Isherwood

'The Weta Sailing Association continues to show strong growth with more than 30 members in NZ and the class now formally recognised as a class association member by Yachting New Zealand from October. In 2009, 17 boats competed at the Nationals an increase from the competition at Tauranga the previous year. There was strong competition both in the single handed class and the double handed class, the latter mainly families racing together.'
Alex Price


'Another magnificent meet at Rotorua over the weekend. This annual pilgrimage to wherever the Weta fleet gathers figures strongly in our calendar. Some great sailing and fun on and off the water with a growing group of Weta sailors'
The van Kan Family

'We had a great weekend. The organization, weather, supporters, sailors all combined perfectly to make a sociable, fun, competitive and exciting event this year. The racing was the best yet. There was a good amount of argy-bargy on the start line, upwind tacking battles and downwind gybing duels. It is fantastic to get such a great bunch of sailors together in these boats. And the conditions played their part with everything from light and shifty through to 20kts and gusty.

Anyone looking for their next challenge in yachting might like to try knocking Chris off his NZ National Weta Champ pedestal, or maybe beating my family to the prizes in the bottle race!
Put my name down again for the next one.'
Brent Charlesworth


'What a great little regatta. Everyone having some fun out on the lake, all scheduled races sailed, and some good sailing breezes as well. As my first regatta in a Weta I had a blast!
It was so great to just turn up, put the boat together and go yachting. Not to mention the jovial atmosphere and camaraderie. Here's to an even bigger event next year!'
Matt Blakey

'The Rotorua YC is set up with the dinghy sailor in mind. It's hot showers, ample storage for your boat and easy parking made it a very relaxing venue for the Nationals. The large slipway added to the ease of launching the Weta fleet. There is even a pier where you can come along side to load up your crew so you can sail away without getting your feet wet!


A warm welcome from the Commodore and well organised racing from club's race officials made Rotorua YC an ideal place to hold the Nationals. With the balcony/bar overlooking the lake spectators can watch the racing in comfort and keep tally on who is winning.
Accommodation and restaurants are plentiful and within walking distance from the Club. There is also the added benefit of the town having plenty of things to do for kids and adults alike.'
Clive Wright

'For an enthusiastic, but fairly incompetent sailor, the Weta Nationals have given me the confidence to get out and give racing a go. Yet again the weekend was a great mix of healthy competition while still enthusiastically supporting the 'plonker' at the back of the fleet. Also, Roger and Chris, the family focus is fantastic and I suspect unique to this regatta.... It gives some of us parents the guilt free opportunity to get out on the water while the kids are also enjoying themselves and making new friends.'
Mike Kerr


2009 Weta Nationals Overall Results

Rank Sail Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Total Net
1st 300 Chris Kitchen 1 1 1 (2) 1 (3) 1 10 5
2nd 5 Brent Charlesworth 2 (4) (4) 1 2 2 4 19 11
3rd 301 Mike Bullot (4) 2 2 (5) 3 1 3 20 11
4th 6 Mike Eaglen, Peter & Chris Eaglen 3 (7) (6) 3 5 6 2 32 19
5th 237 Matt Blakely 5 3 (8) 4 4 (7) 5 36 21
6th 211 Justina Sellers 6 5 3 (8) 6 4 (DNC) 50 24
7th 236 Carl Webster (7) 6 5 6 7 5 (DNC) 54 29
8th 23 Mike Kerr 8 9 (10) (DNF) 8 9 6 68 41
9th 213 Roger Kitchen, David Charlesworth 9 8 7 7 11 (13) (DNC) 73 42
10th 255 Antonia Girardet & Clive Wright 10 11 (12) 11 (14) 10 8 76 50
11th 22 Dave Tapper 11 10 9 9 12 (DNS) (DNC) 87 51
12th 145 Alex Price, Sebastian Price 12 (DNF) 13 13 (DNF) 11 7 92 56
13th 14 Pete Richards 13 (DNF) 11 10 10 14 (DNC) 94 58
14th 144 Gary & Helen Napier 14 12 14 12 16 12 (DNC) 98 64
15th 4 John Van Kan + Varius 15 (DNC) 15 (DNC) 9 8 DNC 101 65
16th 8 Grant Van Kan + Varius 16 (DNC) 16 (DNC) 13 15 DNC 114 78
17th 238 David & Loretta Isherwood + 3 kids! 17 (DNC) 17 (DNC) 15 DNS DNC 121 85



2009 Weta Nationals Multihanded Results
Note: All races must be sailed with at least 2 crew to qualify for this division


Rank Sail Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Net
1st 255 Antonia Girardet & Clive Wright 10 11 (12) 11 (14) 10 8 76 50
2nd 144 Gary & Helen Napier 14 12 14 12 16 12 (DNC) 98 64
3rd 238 David & Loretta Isherwood + 3 kids! 17 (DNC) 17 (DNC) 15 DNS DNC 121 85
4th 144 Gary & Helen Napier (DNS) DNF DNS 10 10 DNC 84 68


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