Weta Trimaran Best Dinghy

This trimaran blew the judge away with it's fun factor. A feature from our January/February 2010 issue

Weta BOTY 368

Walter Cooper

It happens every year with BOTY: one of the smaller boats in the lineup reminds the judges of the pure exhilaration of fast, small-boat sailing. This year, that boat was the Weta Trimaran, which gave the J/95 a serious run for the overall title. If there's one boat that will get any sailor excited about multihull sailing, and small-boat sailing in general, it's this New Zealand import. It's quick, solidly built, incredibly stable and forgiving, and easier to rig than a Laser. When it comes to the fun meter, the Weta has it pegged.

On hand in Annapolis for the pre-sail briefing was the Weta's creator, New Zealander Chris Kitchen, who enlightened the judges on the long, grueling development of his 14-foot trimaran, a project that he and his father started in their garage back in 2003. We're thankful for their dogged persistence.

There are now more than 300 Wetas sailing, approximately 75 of which are in the United States. Once the judges got their hands on the yellow boat come test day, they quickly understood why: "It's really well built, but the best thing about this boat was sailing it," said Holby. "If I could have taken out any of the other boats again, this would have been the one." To get his turn on the Weta, though, he had to pry it out of the hands of Allen, who was first to beach launch and quickly disappeared out of sight, tearing across the Chesapeake Bay under main, jib, and screecher.

Trimarans are unique sailing craft, which have characteristics that take getting used to: in high winds, pitchpoling and hobby-horsing can be problematic, but all the judges confirmed the Weta had no such tendencies in the short chop and 20-knot gusts.

"The thing goes like it's on rails," said Allen.

Because of the Weta's prolonged development, the boat is highly refined in terms of its setup and sail-control systems. The judges got it off its trailer (mostly dissembled), rigged, and were sailing in less than 20 minutes. The floats (with carbon frames) slot into reinforced holes in the main hull, and simple tensioning lines lock them in (as does the rig when the shrouds are attached). Once they stepped the 9-pound carbon rig, lashed the screecher to the carbon sprit, raised the sails (with external halyards), dropped in the carbon kick-up rudder, and ran the sheets, they were off and blazing. An International 14-type tinkerer's boat this is not; it's a sail-it-out-of-the-box, one-design gem.

One example of its versatility is the ability to adjust the sailplan for the desired use. Too much breeze? Go the main alone. The judges sailed the boat with and without the jib, and neither configuration disappointed. In fact, nothing about the Weta disappointed, except, of course, having to hand it back.

Judges' P.O.V.
• The most fun boat of the week
• Easy set up
• Quality construction

Test conditions: 15 to 20 knots, steep chop Recommended use: One-design racing, day sailing Recommended race crew: 1 to 2 (440 lbs. capacity) Stats: LOA 14'5" Beam 11'6" DSPL 275 lbs. SA (u/d) 124/334 sq.ft. Price: $10,995 (includes custom trailer and dolly combination) Contact: www.wetamarine.com