The 2021 WetaFest regatta took place at Fort Walton Yacht Club last weekend and though smaller by comparison to previous WetaFest’s, it was equally as fun and competitive. At the beginning of the year, there was certainly uncertainty whether the event would happen but Cliff Peshek and FWYC Fleet Captain Rob Brown did an excellent job getting the event on track. Twelve boats total sailed, 10 singlehanded and 2 doublehanded.
The weather was atypical for this time of year. A stalled cold front produced cooler, chillier, and rainier conditions for two of the three days of racing. A rainy morning on Friday turned into a beautiful partly cloudy afternoon that started out with 12-18 knots for race 1 but died down to 6-11 knots for the following two races that day. Saturday stayed rainy with thunder all day so no racing took place. Sunday had clear skies but the offshore northerly was somewhat weak and very shifty. An early race start of 9a provided two races and the first race saw 4-8 knots and the second race saw 1-6 knots.
In the singlehanded fleet, four sailors won races so it was very competitive. Bill Swanson from St. Louis and local Cam Farrah pushed Bob Hodges hard for the overall series win. In the last race, Bill and Cam were within a point of each other and Cam put an early cover on Bill to finish one boat ahead. They ended up tied for but Cam got second overall on the final tie breaker. Cam’s dad Cliff won the last race securing his 4th overall in the series.
In the doublehanded fleet, Elise Read and Snoann Willett had speed but Jen and Tim French had the experience to close the passing lanes and take that win. It was pretty cool to see both of these teams finish mid pack and in the upper third of the overall fleet in both races on Sunday.
Speed smarts tips, it seemed the fastest singlehanded boats were pushing sailing the boat deeper downwind in lighter air. I typically like to sail the boat at 90 degrees apparent downwind but Bill showed us you can get to around 100 degrees and a big factor was raising the daggerboard higher (to where the top of the daggerboard is just below the bottom of the mainsail). Rig wise, I had my rig as far back as my shrouds would allow (about 6-7 degrees of mast rake measured between the mast and the flat of the foredeck) to get the right amount of weather helm in the boat for upwind sailing.
FWYC was as always, a super host. They provided hot snacks and beer on Friday night and a shrimp and sausage boil dinner Saturday night as well as access to their bar for after race chat and libations. The awards were very cool with framed pictures of the competitors handed out. Rob Brown told us that FWYC loves this event and our class and they were very happy we made the decision to go forward with the regatta this year. For them, the 2021 WetaFest provided a good sense of getting back to normal so lots of happy faces. There are now four Wetas at FWYC and a couple others within 5-10 miles of the club so they have a great nucleus for a local fleet that hopefully will grow.
Check out Fort Walton Yacht Club’s Facebook page for lots of pictures of the event.
If you could not make it this year, make plans for 2022 and also look ahead to the North Americans in September in Muskegon, MI. The NOR is almost done and we hope to have the regatta setup on Regatta Network within the next week.
WCNA Class President