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Let's get excited for the upcoming season by looking back at last years UK Weta Swarm

As summer gets closer and the forecast has temps slowly getting warmer let's focus on a great sailing event held last summer in the heat of summer in Cornwall.

The event was held between Friday 8th July to Sunday 10th July 2022, and though only a modest five boats were there we welcomed two new sailors to the fleet who proved to be very competitive, more of that later.

Why the low numbers? One boat didn't make it because of a car breakdown and some previous year's competitors were on holiday, and then there was the cost of fuel to get there - but let's not dwell on the negatives - Rock was unusually quiet for that time of year which was a blessing and unlike the year when Covid kept us outside and in small groups we were able to use all the facilities of the club and socialise in the fabulous weather.

With most sailors arriving on Thursday evening Friday was a relaxed day starting with a leisurely breakfast before rigging the boats on the beach around 11am. We then sailed around the estuary in about 6-8 knots of wind. Some took the opportunity to sail across to Padstow and out to the Doom Bar at the mouth of the estuary before making our way back to the club which gave everyone a chance to familiarise themselves with the geography of the area.

Fortunately we were on neap tides so we could leave our boats on the beach by the club and it was just a short stroll for a drink or two and a bit of lunch and chance to socialise and meet up with old and new friends and discuss all things Weta, and just a small amount of 'bimbling'. The two new sailors to the group are Steven Harvey who lives in landlocked Oxfordshire but is originally from New Zealand and therefore should be able to sail a Weta, and he certainly can.

The other is Andy Montgomery who lives in Devon and previously an A Class cat sailor. Andy, like Steve, is a very competent sailor and given the fact that they were both in older second hand boats rigged with pin head mains for their first season sailing their Weta I think they could be ones to watch in the future.

Friday was Fish and Chips night at the club which turned out to be a warm barmy night spent on the quay chatting away to other club members over a few pints of Doom Bar.

Saturday dawned with bright sunshine, hot and with a very light breeze from the north. The first race was scheduled for just after lunch at 1.30pm with a second race back to back. Unfortunately due to local gig racing going in the seaward sailing area we had to sail in an area off Padstow which is bounded by sand banks so you have to avoid the "yellow water".

Having set off from the beach in blisteringly hot weather some of us found ourselves slightly under dressed as a slightly chilly northerly wind filled in and was even strong enough, for those who chose to, to hike out bottom-on-ama style. Both races were held on the same course and due the constraint of the sand banks were basically Windward - Leeward courses.

Patrick Lyon and Andy Montgomery were sailing single handed with 'Kiwi' Steve having Pete Cailes onboard for race one before Pete was ferried ashore by the safety team to thaw out while

Steve continued to race single handed. Also enjoying the conditions were Steve Tong crewed by Andy Greenaway and Tim Jeremy crewed by Kate sailing double handed.

Race one - The lighter airs suited the single handers particularly those with a square top main and in the first race Patrick managed to get the jump on Kiwi Steve & Pete at the start and cover them up the first beat. Andy Montgomery, by his own admission had a poor start so was playing catch up for the rest of the first race. Steve Tong was never far behind as Tim Jeremy, who came second last year, was struggling to get his boat up to speed. None of this was helped by the fact that the Shrimpers, a traditional local gaff rigged 2 berthed yacht, were sailing the same course as us and point a lot higher but are a lot slower.

If you were on the wrong side of that fleet going upwind or downwind you were in trouble.

Race two - The second race was in slightly less wind but Andy was at the start this time. 'Kiwi' now playing with all the ropes by himself was in a good position at the committee boat end of line until a Shrimper from the next start decided to dawdle along the line in front of him which Patrick managed to evade by ducking behind them. This race was a much closer affair with Andy joining in the mix coming in second ahead of Kiwi Steve.

After racing it was ashore for a quick drink, shower and change and back to Patrick's house for a barbeque. Great day, great evening.

On Sunday the racing was at the seaward end of the estuary in Daymer Bay with no Sand banks or Shrimpers to worry about. One casualty was Tim Jeremy who luckily noticed that a bolt had sheared off the metal loop on top of his starboard ama that the shroud attaches to and the whole rig was about to fall down. Fortunately this was spotted just before he left the beach so there was no further damage but it meant there was no more sailing for him and Kate.

The winds were lighter than the previous day and being on a more open course it became a bit more tactical with more wind shifts and the tidal current playing a part.

Race 3 - Sunday's first race saw Kiwi Steve trying a sneaky pin end start to get across the fleet on port tack that nearly worked but not quite after which Patrick cover tacked up to the first mark where the larger square top main started to pay dividends in the lighter airs. Once again Steve and Andy were duelling for position with Andy getting the better of the spat and Kiwi Steve forgetting this wasn't 'round the cans' racing and the course wasn't triangle, triangle, triangle but was in fact triangle sausage triangle...... is there a Kiwi phrase for 'DOH!'

Never too far behind was the pairing of Steve and Andy sailing double handed but always in contention of sneaking past if the 'new boys' sailing solo got things to out of shape.

Race 4 - Patrick got a flier off the start followed closely by Kiwi Steve and Andy but as the race progressed that extra push from the square top was enough to keep him clear on the ever improving Andy and Kiwi Steve. As the lead boats rounded the leeward mark for the first time things were the closest they had been all weekend with Patrick being followed closely by Andy and Kiwi.

Patrick stayed clear but Andy and Kiwi Steve traded places several times on the windward leg and were only separated by a few boat lengths as they headed straight back down the course. This time Kiwi remembered he wasn't racing the cans and gybed early to head off and separate himself from the fleet which paid off as he picked up a bit more pressure and rounded the leeward mark ahead of Andy.

And that's how it stayed until the gun.

As is standard the wind filled in a bit more for the trip back in and there was some great three-sail blasting to be had on the wake from some of the powerboats heading back in to the harbour which made for a perfect end to a great weekend of sailing.

Patrick took the overall regatta win scoring a clean sheet.

Kiwi and Andy were tied on the points, meaning Kiwi took second overall based on finishing positions of the last race.

The pairing of Steve T and Andy G were third overall and first double handed.

Our thanks go to the Rock Sailing and Waterski Club for hosting us, the Race Officer and his wife, Martin and Lynne Hough for setting the courses and running the races and rescue boat driver Louis Greaves and his crew.

We hope to see you in Rock for the 2023 Swarm event - 22nd-24th September - get it in the diary now.


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