by Gary Napier
Felix and Friends
After much debate and pulling of hair the NZ Weta Association decided to mix it up for the 2012 Nationals.
Rather than repeat the formula from prior years of hosting a racing event with additional family sailing thrown in we decided it would be fun to head to the Coromandel for a weekend of great destination sailing for all the family with some coaching from Team Weta.
Cometh the hour cometh the man and with high winds and rain forecast for the weekend it was no surprise to receive an email from Team Weta to say that conditions would be challenging but that they would be no problem for the Weta. The 'Summer' Rally would go ahead as planned. No problem there, only we had family, children and friends in tow expecting a leisurely destination sail to a deserted beach for a picnic and to blast home with a following wind to a sizzling BBQ, camp fire and a few cool drinks! Throw in some great coaching - what more could you wish for?
Destination Long Bay, Coromandel proved an inspired choice of venue. Never mind sailing, the coast road from Thames to Coromandel Town must rank in the top ten drives in the world. An amazing way to start what turned out to be the most enjoyable of the Weta Nationals to date.
By lunch time Friday we were rigged and ready for the first of the training sessions. Conditions were near perfect with an onshore breeze gusting around 15 knots. Once on the water we were charging around the bay with Chris in hot pursuit giving instruction and tips from the motor boat.
And on occasion was seen to come along side and board pirate fashion much to the amazement of the helmsman. As the wind speed picked up we headed out of the bay sailing around one of the smaller offshore islands. It was a great afternoon sail in near perfect conditions. And if I can put into action a tenth of the tips I got from Chris my sailing will improve tenfold. A day made perfect by dinner at the amazing Coromandel Mussel Kitchen.
As you might expect as more Weta's, family and friends arrived the stronger the winds began to blow. Our weekend was now in the hands of the weather gods and Team Weta. Saturday's treasure island sail for the children was changed into a destination sail to Roger's Bach that would entail negotiating a narrow channel where we were reassuringly told that if we got into trouble we could beach on starboard and pull the boat through like some canal barge horse no doubt! 'Whatever you do keep away from the rocks to port!' Chris advised. Thank heavens the crew were still in the cabin putting on their sun block and missed this part of the briefing!
Four up including two twelve year old girls we headed out into the Pacific in a gale! What fun as we raced out of the bay with the girls getting a good soaking but loving every moment. We had a bit of a scare as we approached the channel as my jibe was not as tidy as it might have been!
In any other boat we would have been in the water but the Weta is very forgiving so we recovered and sailed into the channel with a decent following breeze. Picking up a large wave we surfed through the channel to the delight and wonder of us all but most especially me.
Home and dry! Well not quite. Home and very wet but with a wonderful sail to the Kitchen’s Bach. As we munched our sandwiches and patted ourselves on the back for a job well done the wind seemed to hear us and decided to up the ante for the sail home.
Four from 10 Weta decided to brave the fresh 25 knot plus breeze for the sail home with two coach boats following. A couple of Wetas turned turtle but still managed to limp home in shame. But great tales were told at the evening BBQ.
By Sunday the Weta diehards had to tip their hats to the wind and even Geoff our 'Mr Intrepid' called it a day blaming his better half!
All in all a great weekend spent with the Wetas, family and friends.
Chairman Weta Association NZ