With much anticipation, the 4th Annual Wētā East Coast Championships took place in conjunction with the 66th North Carolina Governor's Cup Regatta, June 16-18 on Kerr Lake. Hosted annually on Father’s Day weekend, the date provides a great opportunity for families to come together for quality time at the lake. Sailors came from Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida to sail in warm, fresh water on one of the largest reservoirs in the Southeastern United States, covering 50,000 acres and bordered by over 850 miles of shoreline.
After the Wētā Fleet took home the coveted Governor’s Cup in 2022, we were hoping to “Keep the Cup”. This year, the Wētās and Thistles were gunning for the Cup with the largest of 10 fleets registered at the regatta. (Gov Cup is awarded to the Skipper in one of the largest fleets who beats the most boats, so it’s a combination of boats on the start line and consistently high finishes.)
On Thursday afternoon, Wētās started to arrive and rig while catching up with friends from other regions. Wētā flags were hoisted and the welcome signs were placed near the marina entrance.
On Friday, Wētā sailors were ready for the on-the-water clinic. North Gulf Coast Wētā Dealer, Richard Kiczek introduced a new way to launch, aptly coined the “Princess Launch”. Only a select few would be able to experience this. If you’re lucky, you too may get to experience this one day!
First timers at this event took advantage of the time to check out the lake and get acclimated before the racing clinic which included practice starts. The entire fleet that had arrived was on the water having some fun.
The Mid-Atlantic Fleet hosted a cookout on Friday evening at Wētā Camp with “Grill Master” Chuck Carroll ready to feed the ravenous crew of sailors. If needed, Wētā mascot, Gizmo the Sailor Pup was on standby as Assistant Grill Master.
After her “Spin the Dog” clinic in Florida, Stephanie Taylor took her show on the road and hosted another Clinic to teach the newbies and ensure the experienced had this technique mastered. If you missed the clinic, there may be another one in the future.
After great double digit wind the first three years that Wētās participated, we were hoping to continue this tradition without the multiple capsizes and pitchpoles from 2022. On Saturday morning, upon arrival at the beach, we were greeted with a six to seven knot breeze. By the time, we got out to the South race course, the wind was shifting and dropping. Not a good combination! It turned out to be a contest to see who could get to the weather mark first before the race was abandoned and restarted. This occurred several times while the Swanson girls, Selene and Carly could be heard cheering “Go dad!” from the photo boat for their father, Bill, every time he got near the weather mark.
After finally getting one race in, Richard Kiczek decided to do a cannonball off his Wētā. The trend continued as other sailors aptly joined in the fun during postponements.
After giving it their best shot, RC abandoned racing for the day. It never fails…Minutes later, the best breeze of the day filled in and sailors had a glorious sail back to the beach. Not long after, everyone enjoyed the regatta dinner before returning to their accommodations for the evening.
Back by popular demand, Doyle’s Diner was open for business at O’Dark Thirty Sunday morning. Jon Doyle, Carolina Sailing Club Commodore and his son Caz, cooked up made-to- order omelets and pancakes with all the fixings. Sailors got their bellies filled before heading out to morning wind of eight to nine knots.
Racing was tight with sailors swapping positions during all three races. However, by the end of the day’s third race, the breeze disappeared. The lake was perfect for slalom skiing. Time to be towed in!
As the results were tallied, Wētās were slightly outnumbered by the Thistles, 12 to 15 boats. The Thistle fleet won the Governor’s Cup for the first time in 66 years.
After two days of sailing in very challenging conditions, Wētās crowned the 2023 East Coast Champion. Congratulations to Alan Taylor, his second win in four years!
Overall results for the 2023 Wētā East Coast Championship/North Carolina Governor’s Cup Regatta were:
1st Place - Alan Taylor, Greensboro NC
2nd Place - Pete Merrifield, St. Petersburg FL
3rd Place - Bill Swanson, Daytona Beach Shores FL
Almost Award – Jim Serpa, Fort Walton Beach FL
Road Warrior Award – Pete Merrifield, St. Petersburg FL
Wētātude Award – Stephanie Taylor, Greensboro NC
Lisa Struck and Richard Kiczek
Bill Swanson doing his pre-race meditation
L to R: Richard Kiczek, Steve Cardoze, Pete Merrifield (photo by Linda Marsh)