The second annual Weta National Championships were held at Tauranga Yacht and Power boat club over the weekend. The fleet was treated to perfect sailing conditions with sunny 5-12 knot sea breezes in the picturesque Tauranga harbour. The 15 boat fleet covered a wide range of sailors from 3 year old Drew to double world champion Michael Bullot.
Racing was close at the front of the fleet and always exciting due to the unique characteristics of the boat being a cross between a dinghy and a cat. Sailors were able to enjoy the speed of a multihull – but also tack quickly and use similar tactics to dinghies. Having asymmetrical sails downwind meant the race was not over until you had crossed the finish line!
The event is targeted at getting everybody involved in sailing and enjoying the water. This was achieved by having a kid’s activity in the morning and some serious (fun) racing in the afternoons combined with a strong off-the-water social scene. After racing local Tauranga kids were let loose with the boats enjoying screeching rides in the late afternoon 15 knot sea breeze. Here are some reports from the sailors….
'The racing was great, 15 Wetas on one start line, throw in 3 knots of tide scattered around the course, 5 to 12 knots of wind, (also scattered around the course) and you've got the recipe for some pretty exciting Weta racing. The first day saw a pretty big learning curve for most of the new Weta sailors, which made Chris Kitchen, look pretty good after a string of 1st places, with 2007 National Champion Brent Charlesworth also sailing well to be in 2nd after the first day.
Day two was a lot more interesting. After a full days sailing under our belts we had a pretty good grip on what makes the boat go fast (and after that first day, what doesn't). Even sets, drops, gybes and tacks seemed second nature by the end of the day which is a real credit to the thought and design that has gone into the boat.
Double-handed winner Robert Gunn (right) recounting the days racing with overall winner Chris Kitchen (left) - 2008 Weta National Championships - Chris Kitchen Click Here to view large photo
The tight racing between the first 5 or 6 boats in all three races of the day was pretty exciting for a hiking laser sailor like myself. I've never been a big fan of multihull racing, what seems like more of a speed race from one corner to the other, the Wetas really changed that view. Racing remained close for all three races and simple shift taking as well as the gains being made from even a few knots of extra pressure meant most of the races could be sailed with a never say die attitude.
Chris Kitchen still took out the regatta with two wins out of three on the last day, but unfortunately now has to deal with the constant reminder of that one race of the 2008 NZ Weta National Championships that he let slip.' - Mike Bullot
'The Weta Nationals was the first time my two boys (Chris aged 14 and Mattie aged 11) and I had sailed our boat outside the familiar waters of Omokoroa Beach. Mattie, being a bit of a land lover at heart, couldn't wait to get out on the water when he saw the fleet of 14 other Weta's on our arrival at the Tauranga sailing club. The three of us participated in the morning sail with great enthusiasm and little skill, but unfortunately were unable to collect one of those elusive milk bottles. However it was left to Chris and I to compete in the racing after lunch. Chris was in charge of the head sails and was the self appointed tactician. I was on the helm and followed the strict orders that came my way. We learnt a truck load from the days racing and had a great deal of fun along the way. Next year I think it will be Chris at the helm with dad left on the shore.' - Keith Earl
'With a big entourage of Weta people accompanying the Weta fleet (towed from various parts of New Zealand to beautiful balmy Tauranga over the weekend) there was a memorable and growing social element both on and off the water on this our second National Weta Regatta. From 6 months of age to at least as many decades - as land based support crew, in fun pre racing activities, as RIB cheerleaders, in rotating crews on board, as preparers and hungry participants of an after racing barbeque and prizes for everyone to finish off - I think we have the beginning of a burgeoning cross generational Weta community. A great weekend.' - John van Kan
'Tauranga Yacht Club proved a great choice of venue in every way. The club was well organised and very welcoming to the new class. The rigging and launching areas were excellent, and the club's race officials were very experienced and well-organised. Tauranga harbour provided sheltered water, some interesting tidal flows, and a sea breeze which provided some great racing. Definitely somewhere to return to in the future!' - Robert Gunn
'When you buy a Weta you are not just buying a boat you are joining the Weta family. A bunch of like minded sailing enthusiasts who enjoy the combination of family sailing with some seriously fun racing. Trying to pick up a floating milk bottle, so your eight year old can win a prize, is a good substitute for a man over board exercise and certainly introduces you to sailing under stressful conditions! Add to that, a barbecue, a few beers and the company of other bright, good looking and fun Weta sailors and you are starting to get the picture of the 'Weta Social Scene' - Gary Napier
'The 08 nationals were blessed with perfect weather conditions and a stunning location. For a relatively new class racing was close and exciting. Sail trimming upwind proved to be tricky and the sensitivity of the boats to small adjustments became evident. Downwind was even harder work when it came to getting the angles right. There were a number of approaches to sailing the angles with various outcomes which made downwind gains and losses a critical part of the racing. One can only imagine what an amazing racing environment it would be to have 50 Wetas in 20 knots racing together!' - Simon Baker
The class has grown strongly over the last two years and has a class association organising regular events that encompass both racing and cruising to maximise family enjoyment. The class is friendly and welcomes anyone to join in regardless of age or ability. 2008 Weta Nationals Overall Results
Rank Sail Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Net
1st 211 Chris Kitchen 1 1 1 1 (5) 1 10 5
2nd 5 Brent Charlesworth 2 3 2 (4) 2 2 15 11
3rd 214 Simon Baker 3 2 3 2 3 (4) 17 13
4th 215 Mike Bullot & Chelsea Winter (7) 7 6 5 1 3 29 22
5th 213 Chris Dawson (5) 5 5 3 4 5 27 22
6th 6 Michael & Sarah Eaglen 4 4 4 7 7 (8) 34 26
7th 11 Robert & Nicholas Gunn 6 6 (8) 6 6 7 39 31
8th 14 Peter Richards & Sharelle 10 (11) 9 8 9 9 56 45
9th 4 John & Tom van Kan (DNF) 14 11 9 8 6 64 48
10th 244 James Wells 8 8 7 (DNC) DNC DNC 71 55
11th 28 Grant & Sam van Kan 13 12 12.5 12 (DNF) 10 75.5 59.5
12th 20 Keith & Matthew Earl 9 9 10 (DNC) DNC DNC 76 60
13th 56 Jonathan Newsome & Greg 11 13 14 11 (DNS) DNC 81 65
14th 2 Alan & Denis Hounsome 12 10 12.5(DNC) DNC DNC 82.5 66.5
15th 144 Gary & Helen Napier (DNS) DNF DNS 10 10 DNC 84 68 2008 Weta Nationals Multi-handed 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 11 Robert & Nicholas Gunn 6 6 (8) 6 6 7 39 31
2nd 28 Grant & Sam van Kan 13 12 12.5 12 (DNF) 10 75.5 59.5