Unlimited running rigging allowed in the US rules used at the WMG, gave an opportunity to analyse what improvements could be made to the Weta.

None more so than Masters Gold Medal winner, Martin Cross, who tested a number of modifications which either improved the handling or made the boat easier to sail with some tweaks that may have made it marginally faster and shared them with the Australian team members.

Martin also stresses the importance of marking sheets, halyards and controls – especially the jib and mainsheet where they go through the cleats – for upwind and downwind positions. You can use a “permanent” texter for this or for a real permanent solution, splice a marker into the line or use whipping.

Mainsheet Traveller

Possibly the biggest improvement to the boat in terms of boat handling and safety, was the development of a traveller using a line wrapped around the ama arms.

The benefits of using a traveller are:
1. You don’t have to let go of the tiller extension through the tack.
2. You no longer have to pass the tiller around the back of the mainsheet and go to the stern to get it. As the stern has less buoyancy, putting your weight back there is like putting the brakes on every time you tack.
3. You can control the position of the mainsheet block so you can let it out to the edge of the cockpit on the off-wind legs instead of having the clew curved to the middle of the boat – it gives a much better shape to the sail and allows you to control the tension of the rig while still letting the clew to leeward.
4. It allows you to extend the tiller under the traveller which means you can reach it easily when sitting forward or hiking from the amas.

Downsides are:
– You have to remember to move the block back to the middle before you reach the leeward mark
– The traveller block can catch on the tiller especially when manoeuvring at slow speeds when the mainsheet is slack.

Method

This method requires no additional fittings to be attached to the hull.
1. Simple Loop Traveller
Create a Laser-style traveller loop by feeding a 4-5mm line around the rear ama arms from the stern side and tie off to the mainsheet fitting on the cockpit floor. The tie a small loop in the centre of the traveller and then attach the mainsheet block to it.

2. Adjustable Traveller System
Instead of tying a loop in the centre of the line described above, thread a traveller block* onto the line and attach the mainsheet block to it. Then feed another line around the both rear ama arms from the bow side and tie off either side of the traveller block. Cleat this additional line in the trolley cleats either side of the cockpit so that the mainsheet block is held in the centre of the cockpit for the upwind legs. For the offwind legs release the cleats either side to allow the traveller block to slide along the traveller to the gunwale. This means the clew of the mainsail is no longer pulled towards the centre of the boat and the leach of the mainsail is now aligned with the jib and genneker.

3. Extended Tiller
If the the standard tiller setup is used with the traveller, the tiller extension universal joint tends to catch on the traveller. To avoid this you can lengthen the tiller with some carbon tube which fits over the existing tiller after removing the tiller extension joint. Use some tape to ensure a tight fit and re-position the tiller extension joint on the new lengthened tiller so that it clears the traveller and anchor it in place using a screw into the old tiller extension holes. (see tiller lengthening below)

4. Cross System: To allow him to pull rather than push on the line, Martin’s adjustment line was further extended from the trolley cleat, through the eye of the rear tramp grommet on the opposite side and then fed through the opposite grommet and back through the cleat and around the ama arm to form a continuous loop .

For permanent installation it might be better to add a nylon loop fitting bolted through the gunwale for the traveller lines instead of wrapping them around the ama arm.

* Any small block will do but we found a small Ronstan Shock reduces the amount you have to allow for the traveller block to pass over the tiller and makes it less likely to catch as a result. It just fits if you grind a little off the edge of the shackle at the base of the mainsheet block post (in new boats) or you can attach using the dyneema loop (in older boats).

Tiller lengthening

Having created your traveller, you really need to lengthen the tiller so it can pass underneath.

Method
Slide some carbon tube over the existing tiller and moving the tiller extension to the end of the new tube.

We used 32mm ID carbon tube (available in Australia from Playwithcarbon.com or Carbonfiber.com.au) which just fits over the 30mm OD existing tiller with the tiller extension removed (NOTE: tiller tube dimensions may vary on older boats). Martin acquired a section of a broken carbon windsurfer mast.
The additional tiller length will depend on your preference, but you want it so that the traveller doesn’t catch on the tiller extension universal joint when you tack. It also needs to clear the cleats at either side and the “bump” of the ama arm sockets, so you may need to add washers at the base of the rudder gudgeon pin as a shim to raise the tiller stock slightly.
Once you have the right length, secure it in place with some tape to provide a tight fit and drill a hole in the new pipe to line up with one of the old tiller extension screws holes to hold it in place (if you can’t get the screw to bite into the carbon tube, try inserting a small rawplug into the hole and then tighten the screw). Then attach the tiller extension to the new lengthened tiller.

Mainsheet Setup We removed a loop of the 6:1 mainsheet block purchase to create a 4:1 purchase as it runs better and doesn’t overly strain the hands in winds up to 25 knots. On #1000+ boats you can remove a turn and still keep the small block (in case you need to revert to 6:1) by tying off through the middle of the small block with a bowline.
Cunningham
Martin added an extra block set to the Cunningham to create a 6:1 purchase which he says he really cranks on in a blow to flatten off the top of the sail (using North tri-radial cut). He also extended the Cunningham to the ama arms, tensioned with bungee and adjusted the angle of the cam cleats using plastic wedges beneath them. This allows him to adjust the Cunningham without coming in off the tramps.

The measurement tape on the mast allowed him to re-use settings depending on the conditions.

The neoprene bag is used to stow the tails of the halyards after raising the sails to reduce windage and its neater than having them coiled halfway up the mast.

A neoprene wine bottle cooler was also used by Paul for the same purpose.

Crossover Jib Sheets

We use crossover jib sheets since it means they’re always to hand even when hiking out, and less likely to get under your feet. Most were tied off using the handles on the edge of the tramp by the shroud but Martin added some shockcord to the tail to keep them taught.
Jib Cleat Replacement

One of the problems with the standard jib cleats is they are very difficult to release in winds over 20 knots. Martin and Paul replaced them with Spinlock PXR swivel base cam cleats that enable you to release them under load.

The only issue with the Spinlocks is they have to give a little in order to bite into the rope. A cheaper, and possibly better solution, used by the Kiwis is to use a 2:1 on the jib by taking the sheet through the cleat up to a block attached to the clew and then back to tie off on the cleat.

Screecher drop system
This is likely to be banned soon but many of the leaders were dropping the screecher for the first upwind leg (and some for every upwind leg) by uncleating it at the foot of the mast and then stowing it along the foredeck and into the cockpit.

A bungee system was used to take up the slack in the tail of the screecher halyard so that it remained ready for deployment as you approached the windward mark.

Some boats ran their halyard bungee tension system up and down the length of the cockpit, Martin ran his between the ama uprights which meant that he could raise it on starboard tack approaching the windward mark.

Screecher sheet forward turning blocks
We added the turning blocks tied to the forward ama arms as shown in the Weta Owners Locker.

Benefits: It keeps the sheet out from under your feet, it means you’re less inclined to sit on it, it means you’re facing forward during the gybe and, as the sheet wraps further around the ratchet block, it improves the grip of the block on the sheet making it easier on your hands.

Any block will do for the forward turning blocks but the Harken T2 Soft Attach blocks are designed to be lashed in place, contain no metal parts that could damage the hull and are available for 8mm (29mm) or 10mm rope (40mm).

Screecher Sheet “Tweaker”
To keep the sheets flat on the tramp, and thus less likely to get caught in the end of the tiller during a tack, we fed them through a plastic ring which was tied to bungee thread under the tramp and anchored through the screecher block lashing hole in the tramp and fed through a bead to hold it there. This also acts a little as a “Tweaker” to bring the clew of the sail outboard and keep it fuller for more depth.
Screecher Ratchet Block location
Martin had positioned the screecher ratchet block outboard to give a fuller sail and allow him to sail deeper but his system was adjustable so it could be moved inboard for a close reaching course.

Tony Sadler and Beryl Morris moved their screecher ratchet blocks inboard for a light wind race so they could use the screecher as a “code zero” which was very effective.

Camelback drink bag

Located under the forward trampoline to allow rehydration while racing using the drinking tube.
Wind indicators

Mast head Windex systems were seen on a number of boats but this modified Laser mast fitting on the bowsprit seemed a better solution instead of craning your neck.

We all agreed that the wool tufts used as wind indicators on the North sails weren’t as good as the ripstop nylon versions on the Gaastra, as the wool tended to catch on the panel joins on the sail and they were hopeless when wet.

Also the grey North sails were harder to see through than the clear Gaastra. To get around this we taped cassette tape either side of the clear window where it could easily be seen. Cassette tape doesn’t absorb water and with a knot in one end, doesn’t stick to the sail (some McLube or RainX on the window also helps).

Additionally, Paul and Geoff had telltales on the luff of screecher (only works on Yellow or Red screechers since you can see through them) and Paul had a 30cm piece of cassette tape attached to the leech of the screecher about 30cm above the clew. This meant that when the sail was furled, a length of the tape would hang out of the furled sail and act as a wind indicator right in the line of sight.

T-Handles were used by a number of boats to ease getting back from the amas.
Some were swaged in. Others were just whipped onto the shroud. Geoff had 1m of plastic pipe threaded down the shrouds to provide a handhold.
Additional hiking straps

Some were sewn in

Image 2 shows a padded Kiwi version that had a webbing loop that went right around the tramp, through the side hand hold loops, and was tensioned underneath across the ama arms (much easier to setup and easier to adjust for different crew)

Screecher sheet attachments

Dyneema “Pigs-tail” loops spliced into into joined ends of screecher sheets prevents the sheets from catching on the forestay during a gybe.
Additional Tweaks Double Dyneema strops on Forestay ring for backup in case one lets go.
Mainsheet halyard replaced with 2mm Dyneema core line to reduce wind resistance. This was then spliced onto a double wire leader loop secured with two swages to prevent it coming undone (which the standard single wire loop is prone to do).Some boats had dispensed with the wire leader altogether and just secured the mainsheet halyard in the V cleat using a knot in the Dyneema-core rope which is both lighter and less prone to failure due to misalignment with the V cleat.