Just eight Wetas made the trip up or down old Highway 101 to posh Santa Barbara, the historic wine-loving town on 'California’s Riviera', to sail in our West Coast Champs.
- Wetafest 2014 - Florida USA
We piggy-backed on the Santa Barbara Yacht Club’s annual Wine & Roses Regatta, a popular catamaran-only gathering, and thus contributed to a record 48 boats racing this year, some coming all the way from Arizona.
In the Weta fleet, Jonathan Weston came down from San Fran. Bruce Fleming and Brian Grover drove up from San Diego. Tim Corcoran, Dan Wilson, and Paul Marston, drove up from Los Angeles. Ben Teitelbaum came west from land-locked Fresno, and Bob Shirley enjoyed a short commute in from Ventura.
This regatta is a big draw of west coast cat sailors, and doubles as a fund-raiser for the Make A Wish Foundation. It also has the distinction of being the only event in Santa Barbara that allows the sailors to camp (in the parking lot) next to the beach. I’ve heard reports that the overhead street lights made camping in your car less than restful for the photo-sensitive campers.
The pasta buffet dinner at SBYC on Saturday night after racing, included an extensive raffle of great swag; Hobie stuff, shirts, gear bags, rudder covers, Bluetooth sound systems, and lots of bottles of private reserve wine. The Hobie community has a well-developed culture of not taking themselves too seriously, and though some of us departed early, it’s clear these folks know how to have a good time.
On the water, and back on the beach, all the Wetas seemed to enjoy the weekend. The Hobie fleets welcomed us with open arms. The ocean water was warm, clean, and clear; and the weather was fabulous. Some of us sailed in board shorts and T-shirts! We saw tons of wildlife, including diving pelicans and cormorants, sea lions basking on the buoys and chasing our boats, and a gang of porpoise passing by in the gorgeous blue water as we ghosted out to the course before the wind filled in both days. As racing got under way, the winds piped up from light to medium, so we enjoyed a range of winds.
Competition was good--Five different race winners rounded out the top five spots. Thanks to Jonathan Weston for the following brief race-by-race recollection of highlights:
Race 1: Watching Paul hit the right side of the course (along the beach) first and hard, with speed. Short race.
Race 2: Jonathan getting a good jump on the lead going into the first mark, catching weeds and sliding sideways to have to tack and round in fourth. Jonathan catching back up to Bob and then getting smoked by Bob downwind to the finish. Watching Bruce found his groove and did a horizon job on the fleet.
Race 3: Jonathan getting a good lead upwind and then watching Bruce dissipate it downwind. Luckily it was a 3 lap course and not 4 with Bruce closing in rapidly.
Race 4: Bruce gambled on a pin end, port tack start, and loses badly—ducking every boat and barely passing to windward of the RC. The epic fail morphs into epic flail as his screecher unfurls 100 yds before the windward and he loses places to get it re-furled. Weeds on the fin (long bulk strands of tray kelp) continue to foul his dagger board. The winds peaked around 15 to 18, so Jonathan was smoking, or as he put it, 'the Hot Donuts sign was lit.' The Wetas who returned to the harbor (versus the few who pulled out the beach) had an obstacle course of kayakers, swimmers and SUP 'sweepers' to serpentine through on the way to the ramp.
Race 5: Jonathan sailing neck and neck with Dan, with a good lead on fleet, but then forgot about fleet, a huge lift came, and he overshot mark by 20 degrees. Paul catches up. All three boats coming to finish line with Dan third. Dan gybes to hit finish line to port and come in first, Jonathan gybes, falls down in the boat and crosses second in photo finish edging out Paul. Closest finish of regatta.
Race 6: Jonathan starts with a good lead on fleet, counting chickens, covering Bruce off to wrong side of course. Bob comes flying out of nowhere (from the favored right side) Jonathan got the lead back on the first mark rounding due to Hobies getting in Bob’s way, but the he got sucked off to sloppy wrong side again by Hobies getting in in his way. Bob nails it to the right with speed. Bruce nearly catches Jonathan downwind at the finish.
1st Jonathan Weston
2nd Bob Shirley
3rd Bruce Fleming
4th Paul Marston
Overall observations from Jonathan: Racetrack to the right unless the wind cranked. Then left was okay. Winning starts paid off big time, but I lost the lead four times due to a case of Saturday slows. Rerigging after Day One paid off big time. Bob was consistently sailing to the right side, rightly so. Bruce was super fast Saturday and then slept on couch. Hotel Highlander (his SUV) was a better night’s sleep.
Observations from Hobie fleet: 'What was that contraption on the back of that yellow boat? Is that what made him go faster than you guys?' It was the camera mount Bruce assembled from limbs of a 100 degree windsurfer boom. He now blames the windage of this thing for his poor race results.
Lack of observation from Hobie Wave Fleet: 'How much do those things weigh? Are Wetas faster than Waves?' I guess they didn’t notice us finishing first, as if racing together was any contest.
A big shout out to Jonathan Weston for driving 6+ hours, all the way down from San Fran to join us, to Paul at Pierpont Performance Sailing for bringing 'the girls' boats named Ginger and Marian, for Paul and Dan to sail. And a big shout to all the Wetas for sailing an excellent regatta. Rightly so, we all shared the same trophies. A bottle of red.
Jonathan adds, 'Thanks to Christophe Allie for tuning up with me in light air the weeks leading up to the championships ( good thing he couldn't make it due to ushering his son off to university but will prove formidable at Nationals) and to Dave Berntsen for the heavy air practice though it really never blew hard enough to crack the main off. And of course to my sponsor, Krispy Kreme.'
San Diego, California