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Ventura Summer Sailstice

by Bruce Fleming on 30 Jun 2014
Jared to leeward - Ventura Summer Sailstice Paul Marston

This Weta Weekend event was inspired by the need some of us had seen for a 'clinic' to raise the abilities of some of our fellow Weta sailors.

Ventura was chosen for idyllic weather and consistent winds in the low teens.

Mid-June had an open weekend, and by coincidence it worked out to be a great way to participate in the local phenom now known as Summer Sailstice. The latter even was dreamed up by John Arndt, of the famous local sailing rag Latitude 38, as a way to encourage everyone who owns a sailboat to get out on the water to enjoy sailing. When there’s never enough time in the day to do everything you want or need to do, why not make an extra effort to go sailing on the longest day of the year?

We had a few new faces join us this year, including: Ann Marie Moore from San Francisco, Ben Teitelbaum from Fresno, and new Weta owner, Mike Wright, who flew in from Seattle to join returning sailors Tim Corcoran, Bruce Fleming, Brian Grover, and Bob Shirley.


Bob, and Paul and Jared of Pierpont Performance Sailing, managed local details to make room for a bunch of out-of-towners to launch and dock our boats in the harbor. Paul and Jared borrowed YOLO, a tricked-out RIB from the guys who own a wicked fast 60 foot cat called Afterburner, and they chased us around for the weekend, took photos, set a course, and ran some starts for very short practice races on Sunday. A friend of Brian Grover brought his $2K goPro drone out on Sunday and shot some vids.

Like last year, we met each morning for a scrum in the casual clubhouse of Pierpont Bay Yacht Club to talk about the day’s sailing, discuss rigging or technique, and generally agree that we were all here to simply enjoy sailing together. Saturday, after getting all the boats on the water and out of the harbor, we conveined on a beach protected by the habor’s outer breakwall and ate a picnic lunch. Paul and Jared chatted up the Weta to a couple of inquiring Hobie sailors, who later went for a demo ride that required a bit of chasing by Paul on YOLO.

Stuffed with sandwiches, grapes, chips ahoy! cookies, and Dos Equis, we all hit the water and sailed three miles up the coast in wind of 6 to 8 kts to the calm waters off Ventura Pier. This is perfect water for noobs to have their first capsize, but of course, if you’ve ever tried to capsize a Weta, you know how difficult that can be! After about an hour of futzing around, the group began sailing back toward the harbor, and the breeze freshened along the way.


Mike Write says it was the most wind he’s ever experience, sailing a Weta, since the Pacific Northwest has been experiencing abnormally light wind lately, so this was a great way to get to know the boat in the range where it really starts to peform. I had a blast chasing and coaching Ann Marie, who was solo sailing her boat for the first time and learning to handle a tiller and lively boat under screecher at the same time. Over the course of an hour, the track of her wake progressed from wiggley and jerky to straight and smooth, and her speed increased signifiantly. Her confidence increased even further.

Saturday night, we watched a glorious sunset on the Pacific and enjoyed cheeseburgers in Paradise, which happened to be the theme of the Pierpoint Bay Yacht Club’s party/luau. After a few beers or margaritas, we each retired to our lodging—some at hotels or B&Bs nearby, and a couple on the blue triamaran in the harbor known as Orange.

Despite the grey weather predictions, the marine layer fog was thin and Sunday broke as sunny as Saturday. We met in the club house for a short discussion of starting and first-beat sailing tactics, led by Mike Hopper, a long-time local and dominant PHRF sailor who then joined us on the water in the spare Pierpont charter boat for seven super-short practice races. Over the course of the hour, the freshened and the starts got tighter.


After racing, we sailed back to the harbor and to de-rig at the ramp or the beach (Tim and Brian). Mike Write enjoyed docking his charter (no de-rigging required!) and heading to the airport to make his plane back to Seattle. This is a significant perk of chartering a boat over owning it! Mike says he had some explaining to do at Security, since he walked in still wearing his wetsuit, but he made it to the gate in time to change into street clothes before boarding the plane.

A few of us shared beers in the parking lot at the ramp as we de-rigged and prepared for long drives home. Like last year, we all agreed it was a great weekend of sailing and learning together. A lot more fun for everybody than just chasing the same hotshots around some buoys for a couple days. There was real enthusiasm for repeating this annual event, or maybe we should do two each year?


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