Please select your home edition
Edition
Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - LEADERBOARD

US Multihull Championships: New weta trimaran boat review

by Jonathan Weston 4 May 2018 13:42 PDT 18-22 April 2018
US Multihull Championships/WetaFest © Fort Walton Yacht Club

Weta Marine, manufacturer of the successful Weta Trimaran, provided me with the opportunity to try out their new and improved Weta Trimaran. The event? 2018 US Multihull Championships at Fort Walton Yacht Club, FL.

For the racer, several questions needed answering: Was the savings in weight from the new foam core hull construction a regatta changer? How about gains with the new sails? What about one design integrity? Would older sails, and older boats, be able to compete with the new? We would soon find out.

For the recreational sailor, advantages to the new boats were obvious. They are lighter, thus easier to maneuver on the land dolly. The stronger construction means longer lasting boats. Plus, they now came in a plethora of colors and color combinations.

After winning Nationals at the heavy air Columbia River Gorge, Roger had brought me here as a reward and tester of the new boats. However, this was a light to moderate air venue, and I had told Roger I was retired. Perhaps it was Roger's plan, to have the big guy tank (my nickname is Donuts); the one design integrity would be clearly stamped by my poor results.

Mike Krantz, a previous Weta National Champion, was there to prove the boats fast just in case, and Randy Smyth, another two-time Weta National and Olympic Silver medalist (2), would prove that old boats could compete just as well as the new ones. My expectations were low, but I couldn't resist trying out the new and improved lighter Weta. Besides, getting together with old friends at one of my favorite sailing venues, FWYC, I couldn't lose.

First impressions

The initial sight of these new boats as we pulled into Fort Walton Yacht Club was a real eye opener. Sitting there in the warm, Florida sun were eight new boats, as smart looking and pretty as a new Ferrari. Also looking pretty were the fellows unloading them: Roger Kitchen, Weta co-designer from New Zealand, and Richard Hitchcock, Weta Florida Ambassador.

The "New Weta," or as I call it, Weta version 3.0, now comes in a plethora of colors, some with white decks for wicked style and racetrack points. Krantz would get an aqua/white combo, I would get cadmium yellow, and Dave Berntsen white. But the best-looking boat was candy apple red with white deck, the fleet Ferrari. Sweet as! (I believe this is a Kiwi saying) Spot on! (That works).

What was different about this new Weta? Was it stiffer? Lighter? We had no scales to verify, and I wasn't about to hammer on the hulls. Racing or not, new boats are nice to look at on land or water. The new Wetas look like salt water taffy, or glazed donuts coming hot down the conveyor belt, depending on your hunger level. I was hungry to sail one.

Was the new Weta easier to launch, move around on land? Yes. But uphill, both ways, in the sand? It's all about the dolly wheels on this one. The new boats ship with a bit bigger wheels than the old, so even on my own, I could wrangle it with ease.

My SF Bay Area bros, legend "Davo" Dave Berntsen and newbie David Bacci arrived early to knock rust and taste new Weta. With conditions pina colada perfect for Weta sailing, 15-18 knots, the new boats felt lively. The chop was nothing like what we typically plow, yet the boat seemed stiffer. They just felt great stock right out of the box. Was it my imagination or was the boat quieter? I'm 60, so it might be a loss of hearing, but it certainly seems like the foam core dampens the chop inducing vibration.

Trunkin nailed it!

The biggest difference I noticed was in the daggerboard trunk. Previous versions of the Weta have had variances in the width of the trunk and blades. If it's not a snug fit, you needed to make it one, which took a lot of work. I've discovered through my boat and borrowing lots of Wetas, that the two key factors in upwind speed at least, are how new are your sails, and how tight your trunk. Loose daggers get outpointed to weather. Too tight, and it's a struggle to raise and lower the board. But with the new boats? Goldylocks. The board raises up and down with ease – no restraining shock cord necessary – and seems to be a tight fit.

This improvement came at a price to the manufacturer, as they couldn't just buy a small lot of the secret sauce that pads the board snugly. Roger, when asked what exactly this stuff was made of, replied, "a German windshield material," though I think he means side window padding. Kiwis have different names for everything, just so you don't confuse them with Aussies (who actually build the boats at XSP in some place called Batman, Indonesia).

Sails, the X Factor

Before the new boats were launched, the sails were modified just before the World Master Games in NZ by North Sails. Wow, these sails were something to look at. Talk about laminar flow. Gone were the odd wrinkles and leech flutter of the old sails.

Historically, for recreational sailors, the older Gaastra mylar sails have held their shape for many years. It's only the punishing racer's complaints that prompted a change. Roger states that, "Up until recently the sails were pattern cut. The new blue trimmed digital cut sails are using a slightly lighter North manufactured Mylar fabric. We have changed the fabric panel orientation slightly to give more support maintaining the sail shape. The new sail was the result of averaging out 6 sails selected from Gaastra and Norths over the last 10 years to maintain OD."

There is even a newer "fathead" or squaretop version of the main being manufactured, which could become class legal in 2019. "The bigger main is easier to control in high winds as well," claims Bob Hodges, new US Weta Class President.

Mods

There were some modifications made to the boats that included 2:1 jibsheets, fixed bridle traveler, and outboard kite placement speed rings. I was reluctant to use any for the regatta, but will probably do so going forward. All three make the boat easier to sail, so it's not all about the racing on these improvements. That said, I've lived a happy Weta life six years without them.

The racing

In the championship regatta, I did feel fast, even for a donut in light to moderate winds, and would attribute it more to the sails than the weight of the boat, though weight does matter. Even trimming the boat down twenty pounds will not make a difference if you gain thirty over the Winter and head for the wrong start line! The sails trimmed right provided the power to roll the heavy donuts forward. I made enough mistakes to fill a season of sailing, and still finished fourth. So yes, fast boat, really fast sails. I felt the power.

The Weta has extended the life of many sailors who still want the thrill of multihull sailing without the constant pitch poling (though others have, I've never flipped it). It's easy to raise the mast, and the boom – there is no boom to go boom. For those high on the concussion count, it's something to seriously consider. High school sailor Cam Farrah proved that it's also a fun, thrilling boat to sail for youngsters. We hope to see more of the tadpoles out there in the future.

In conclusion

My take on the deal is that you can have an old boat (boat #18 was in the fleet and still competitive) but you have to keep your sails fresh, and the new sails are indeed better. Bob Hodges proved that with the heavier Weta 2.0 version (seamless amas), and new North Sails, you were still fast. Randy, he's an Olympic pro sailor, and these were his home waters. He can win with bed sheets on a garbage can. But duly noted by all, after day 1 and getting rolled by top guys including the donut downwind, he changed his kite to a newer one.

The previous version Gaastra sails have a slightly fuller cut and leech, so they are still competitive in up to 15, but the new Norths are imho far and away faster in breeze. I faired well even in the light air races at 250 pounds, when I kept them in clear air, pointed in the right direction. It's one of those odd requirements for racing success.

I was not alone in my assessment. On our Yahoo Group, Berntsen posted: "The new boats are true one design with same layout as all other Wetas. The major improvements in the new boats is build quality;

  • blades are very clean and good foils
  • foam core construction make boats lighter but all within Weta one design spec
  • improvements on trampoline reinforcement
  • The best improvement is the new North Sails (Grey with blue trim). Much stronger material, better sail shape and fast. If anyone wants to make an upgrade to their older boat - get a new set of sails! You'll know what I mean when you see/try them."
The results amongst the seven new boats chartered or purchased for this regatta were mixed across the board. As you can see, old guys in old boats did just as well as young kids in old boats and old kids in new boats.

Overall Results: (top 10 of 34, 10 races, 1 discard)

1. 437, Randy Smyth[WETA SINGLE], 2-3-3-3-1-4-1-[5]-2-1-; 20
2. 1193, Mike Krantz[WETA SINGLE], 1-2-1-4-[20]-1-7-2-1-2-; 21
3. 1003, Robert Hodges[WETA SINGLE], 3-4-2-5-4-[14]-2-4-3-10-; 37
4. 1190, Jonathan Weston[WETA SINGLE], 7-5-4-2-2-[10]-9-3-5-4-; 41
5. 254, Keith Rice[WETA SINGLE], 5-6-7-6-3-2-6-[8]-6-3-; 44
6. 1199, David Berntsen[WETA SINGLE], 10-1-5-1-12-21-[23]-1-4-9-; 64
7. 622, Carey Jones[WETA SINGLE], 4-[15]-10-12-13-7-3-9-10-7-; 75
8. 362, Richard Stephens[WETA SINGLE], 8-12-6-10-[18]-3-8-14-14-6-; 81
9. 1197, David Bacci[WETA SINGLE], 9-10-8-7-24-13-[26]-11-7-5-; 94
10. 007, Cam Farrah[WETA SINGLE], 14-19-[20]-16-7-11.5/TIE-4-10-8-8-; 97.5

In the doubled-up division (crew on board), the Taylor's won on a new boat. Stephanie Taylor says, "I absolutely LOVE our new custom color Weta! As the Kiwi's say, "Sweet As". The new daggerboard fits the trunk like a glove. It looks like a Weta, it sails like a Weta. Let's keep growing the class!"

We did not get a chance to put the boat through high wind paces, as racing was canceled for the final big breeze showdown (due to a silly tornado – sheet in, hike harder!) I will honestly have a hard time racing again with the old sails in big breeze. It's not that big of an investment, and once I get my piggy full, I'll sport that new boat as well, for the smooth operating dagger trunk alone (okay, it's the colors, which I believe cost little piggy extra). And for the recreational sailor? As the age old saying goes, "It's better to look good than to be good."

Related Articles

Pirates at Australian Weta Class Nationals
Nineteen boats race at Port Kembla Sailing Club With issues around border closures looming, nineteen boats - including six sailed two-up - made it to Port Kembla Sailing Club on Lake Illawarra near Wollongong, NSW for the five day event held over New Year. Posted on 13 Jan
Airlie Beach Race Week overall
The Paul Mitchell-skippered Angus wins Multihull Racing Division 1 The Whitsunday Sailing Club's Airlie Beach Race Week finished on a high note, with 10-17 knot winds for the final race on a triangle course on Pioneer Bay deciding the day's victors and the overall winners in the various divisions. Posted on 19 Aug 2021
Final Day of Airlie Beach Race Week begins
The stakes are high in some divisions where the pointscores are so close The stakes are high in some divisions where the pointscores are so close that the top three will be decided by a triangle course on Pioneer Bay starting from 10am. Posted on 19 Aug 2021
Airlie Beach Race Week day 6
Another wind-filled thriller in the Whitsundays (AKA paradise) The weather gods were smiling down on competitors at Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing again, offering up a superb 10-17 knot south-easterly wind, and bucket loads of sunshine on the penultimate day of the week-long regatta in the Whitsundays. Posted on 18 Aug 2021
Airlie Beach Race Week update
Preparing for the penultimate day Two days of racing remain at Whitsunday Sailing Club's Airlie Beach Race Week, which continues today with a mix of windward/leewards and passage racing, all starting on Pioneer Bay in the stunning Whitsunday Islands - or Paradise Posted on 18 Aug 2021
Airlie Beach Race Week day 3
An unusual stern adornment spotted in the Multihull division They say it takes all kinds when it comes to sailing and that something a little bit different on Jono and Gemma Winterbottom's Seawind 1000, About Time, has them all talking at the 33rd edition of Airlie Beach Race Week. Posted on 15 Aug 2021
Airlie Beach Race Week day 2
Just another day in paradise Another day of ideal sailing at Airlie Beach Race Week with a race course weaving through the beautiful Whitsunday Islands and an ideal 15-20 knot wind, but fun seems to be the focal point for most competitors. Posted on 14 Aug 2021
Airlie Beach Race Week day 1
Capsize and dismastings bring all the drama of a soap opera It had all the drama of soap opera; while some revelled in the 20 knot breeze, others were dismasted or were damaged, which put paid to their race on the opening day of Whitsunday Sailing Club's (WSC) 33rd Airlie Beach Race Week. Posted on 13 Aug 2021
Weta first Australian Nationals are go!
Weta Trimaran hit another sales milestone with 1300 sold worldwide The Weta Trimaran has been increasingly popular in 2020 and has hit another sales milestone with 1300 sold worldwide. Posted on 27 Nov 2020
Queensland Weta State Titles
3 NSW boats made the long trip to Lake Cootharaba Three NSW Wetas (Keith, Geoff and Ian) made the long road trip to Lake Cootharaba for the QLD Weta state titles being held in conjunction with their annual Mono Masters regatta. Their addition increased the entry to 15 boats. Posted on 8 Dec 2019
RS Sailing 2021 - FOOTERZhik 2022 New Season Gear FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTER