Three Wetas took part in the Peter Loft Marathon race on Sunday from Bayview in Pittwater, around Lion Island and back.
With over 25 plus kilometres of course in front of us we set up in upper cloud streaked blue skies, with westerly winds ranging from zero to gusting up to 20 knots. And with predictions of 30 knots plus it was not for the faint hearted, hence only 3 daredevil Weta's showed up joining in a mixed fleet of over 60 plus other yachts (In three divisions) including two 18 foot skiffs and numerous catamarans.
A 'Le Mans' start set us all dashing into the water to set us on our way, and what a site to see if you were a spectator, with so many yachts taking off at once.
Once we made it through the moored boats, Paul White gamely unfurled his Gennaker to get a good advantage of 200 metres, but Geoff Waldon and myself (Peter DuRoss) were a bit reluctant to fly our Gennakers, with so many mono hulls around us starting to capsize in the gusting winds. I looked around and at one stage and there were at least five yachts knocked down around my Weta.
With Pittwater being even more unpredictable in these conditions all Geoff and I could do was watch Paul in front of us. We took the Port channel marker at Palm Beach to port thinking, perhaps hoping, they may shorten the course.
We soon passed between West Head and Barrenjoey Head and into Broken Bay, with the winds gusts increasing well over 25 knots and waves that were about a metre high at times coming out of the Hawkesbury river against the strong solid and flattened out 1 metre under swell heading into the river, still we continued on.
By this time Geoff was being cautious and started slipping back from myself, but caught back up as we rounded Lion Island. This was when we past Alistair's brother who was sailing a catamaran, and was capsized. Not needing assistance we continued around Lion Island and across Broken Bay and on our way home. Paul was well in front by now, as Geoff and I faced massive gusts that were well and truly up over 30 knots at times.
Flying the main sail and jib, we were flying down the waves when my yachts nose dug in and went under, I let go of the main just to hang on as I scrambled to the back of the trampoline, I looked down at the water some 2 metres away hoping my weight would get the stern back down, just as the wind started lifting the hull. Thankfully it did, only to look forward to see the Gennaker unfurling by itself, so I scrambled forward to refurl it thinking that I was going to capsize for the very first time at any moment.
By this time Paul was well in front of Geoff and myself and with wind gusts increasing we certainly had a battle on our hands. I finally got back behind West Head and onto what some would say was sheltered waters. I looked back to check on Geoff and he was still battling on. Paul was well out of site as the wind gusts continued.
The results for us Weta sailors was Paul White First place, congratulations Paul. Followed by myself some four minutes later and then Geoff Waldon, with plenty of other boats behind us. As I say, what a mega fantastic day.
Peter DuRoss 'Triwetasaurus 925'