Buying a used Weta
Wetas are fairly bullet-proof and the original prototypes and some early boats are still regularly raced.
There’s not much to worry about with a used Weta. These boats don’t break easily. Here are some things to look for when buying one:
The main hull may have some impacts at the bow from beaching. Gelcoat scratches can be repaired fairly easily but any impacts that have gone through to the fibreglass may need professional help.
Does the bowsprit (prod) seat firmly in the hole? Press it firmly in and try to sense any sogginess or crunching. A head-on crash into an immovable object, such as a pier/piling or dock, can damage the bulkhead at the aft end of the bowsprit tube causing it to leak.
It’s worth pouring some water down the tube to check for leaks as this is a good indicator of damage. Slight leaks can indicate wear from sand etc at the base of the tube. Check also inside the boat (using the inspection hatch if fitted) for any pieces of hardened resin which may have cracked off in an impact.
If the damage is slight and the bowsprit is still firmly fixed, this can be repaired by lining the tube with a rolled polythene sheet and using a paintbrush attached to a pole, place a patch of carbon cloth infused with thickened epoxy resin at the base of the hole.
If the damage is more serious and the bowsprit moves when wiggled, the repair may require cutting a hole in the deck which can be expensive to fix. So if you sense damage you’ll want to negotiate hard to bring down the price.
Check that the gennaker pole has a plug on its inboard end.
If the bow triangle for the forestay uses stainless steel eye bolts, look for rust underneath. Consider replacing with dyneema as the newer boats have done. The existing bolt holes may require counter-sinking to remove any sharp edges.
The lower ends of the forestay and side stays have pressed bronze fittings that can corrode and fail, so inspect them for signs the stainless cable is in trouble. Also check the stays for wire that has started to fray. Replacements are available from Weta or you can get them made up at boat riggers.
While the bow is strong, the lip on the stern is fairly fragile and impacts may cause the lip to de-laminate. This can easily be rectified with epoxy resin and clamping the sections together while it cures.
A small few rudder housings had a poor connection with the carbon tube that makes the tiller. Make sure there’s overlap of tubing material with the two sides that hold the rudder.
Check the rudder stock for damage where the rudder hits it in the up position.
Check the rudder blade for damage where the adjustment rod attaches. Superficial cracks may be OK, but cracks right through the carbon may indicate a new blade is required.
If the beam supporting the top rudder gudgeon has been stepped on, or has been used to lift the boat, you may find cracks there.
Don’t worry if the stainless steel parts show signs of corrosion – seawater can generate a reaction between the carbon and steel. Do check screws or bolts which attach the tiller extension as they need regular replacement because of this galvanic reaction.
Check the in-board ends of all four tubes for cracks. Most boats now ship with end caps, some of the early boats didn’t have them. Cracked tubes can be mended if the cracks don’t extend too far outboard.
The 10mm thick gelcoat around the 90-degree elbow/knee of the beams can crack if there has been an impact. If you see cracks there, forcefully wiggle that joint with all your strength. if there is no movement, then the carbon/epoxy underneath are fine and you have no worries. Check the elbow joints for any movement by putting the float upside down on the trolley and pushing apart the joint – even a small opening can allow water down the tubes into the float. Also check for hairline cracks in the upright tubes.
Note: If you hear a loud cracking sound while sailing the boat, a crack in the ama arms or damaged elbow is the most likely cause.
Cracks can be repaired using a carbon “bandage” but if the elbow reinforcement is damaged it will have to be ground off and re-done. Repair costs could be negotiating points for you here, too.
Note: A handful of boats were accidentally built with the orientation of the carbon fiber in the beams layed out incorrectly. Cracks formed despite the plastic end plugs because only 30% of the fibers ran longitudinally instead of 70%. simple to fix with a kit from Weta Marine that involves epoxying an internal reinforcement tube.
Check for damage on the bow of the float – small chips can be repaired with gelcoat filler. Larger repairs can be fixed easily by a competent fibreglass repairer (surf ski or surfboard repairers may be cheaper than boat repairers).
Check for cracks and a softening of the fibreglass just aft of the shroud attachment (where someone might sit on the float). Enthusiastic hiking from the floats can cause the fibreglass to soften, particularly on early boats below around #400 as the floats were reinforced with more fibreglass on later boats. Flexing can be cured by applying a patch of carbon fibre cloth laid over the fibreglass to create a “saddle”.
Inspect the entire length of the mainsail bolt rope track up the mast. If there are significant portions that are cracked or broken off, smoothly hoisting the sail may be difficult.
Replacement mast track is available and can be fixed in place in 30 cm (minimum) lengths using specialist flexible resin-based glue.
Look for cracks or damage to the joining ends that slot together. Make sure the two sections of the mast fit together with a snug fit. Cracks here can be repaired fairly easily but can affect the bend of the mast.
Check that the mast has a plug on the base (replacements available from Weta).
Check the pulley at the top of the mast. The pulley should run easily but there should not be enough room for the halyard to slip off the pulley and onto the spindle. This can be fixed by either building up the sides of the pulley slot or replacing the pulley with a wider sheave (available from Ronstan).
Check that the main sail can slide into the mast track and be hoisted all the way up without difficulties.
Stainless steel screws that attach the tiller extension to the tiller tube tend to rust away and then fail without warning. Remove the tiller extension from the tiller (it should slide out if the cover is removed) and check the screws for corrosion. Consider replacing them if you buy the boat, and then repeat that every couple of years.
Check the tiller extension for tears in the rubber of the flexible joint – easy to replace.
Sheets and Halyards
Check all lines for wear – you’ll need to replace any that are worn out. Also check all the short lines that secure the mainsheet to the cockpit deck, the tramp lines, the spinnaker blocks and the forestay line.
Check the spinnaker sheet for wear where it goes through the blocks.
Check the jib and mainsheets where they are usually cleated for wear.
Check that the attachment of the main halyard to the wire strop isn’t worn or coming undone.
Standard replacement rope lengths can be found on the Weta website here.
Check the trampolines for tears and wear on the seams. They last a long time if kept protected from the sun when not being used.
Carefully look inside the boat and along the hull for signs of repair: gelcoat that doesn’t quite match, and so-forth. A good repair can be as good as new, but if the boat has had an accident, you want to be sure it has been properly repaired.
Does it have an access hatch into the main hull between the dagger board and mast step? Older boats did not it is quite handy to store stuff there. Current boats are supplied with a Nairn 9″ port but the Hobie Kayak port is a larger alternative that also seals well.
Have there been any non-standard holes drilled in the boat, for an altered mainsheet setup for example or flipping the trampoline blocks around backwards.
Check that the hatch in front of the daggerboard (if fitted) seals properly. If it doesn’t replace the seal or hatch.
Look for corrosion in the safety harness buckles (they often get left inside the damp boat).
Check that the elasticated harness strap and short webbing loop (which attaches the harness to the harness strap) aren’t missing.
Daggerboard & Slot
How does the daggerboard look? Surface scratches can be repaired easily with filler but the tip and trailing edge is prone to damage caused by leaving the daggerboard half down when hitting an object or beach.
This can be repaired fairly easily using the directions in the video on the maintenance area of the Weta website here.
Turn the boat over and look for cracks around/inside the daggerboard case. Hairline cracks in the gelcoat don’t indicate there is a structural problem, and may be nothing to worry about.
Does it have the new continuous furling gennaker drum (KZ, Harken or Ronstan) or the old non-continuous (Harken) drum version.
For recreational sailing the drum Harken furler is adequate and you can create a 1:2 ratio to make furling easier – details here.
For racing you’ll need to upgrade to the continuous furler as in strong winds the drum furler won’t furl enough to completely furl the gennaker. There have been issues with the bearings in the KZ furler getting corroded and a switch to the Harken furler is recommend. While the Ronstan continuous furler does work, it can be difficult to get it to unfurl if there is any pressure on the furling line and the upper swivel is quite stiff compared to the Harken version.
Make sure the furler, cleats and blocks all turn easily and the teeth aren’t worn.
Check for signs of wear in the sails, especially if you’re considering racing competitively. 5 years of regular sailing is probably about the most you’ll get from a set – less if raced frequently. Creases at the luff near the mast are typical of the Gastra main sails but they should mostly pull out with Cunningham tension. Also check the luff rope for wear and the mast track for any damage – the track can be replaced and is available from Weta dealers.
Batten pockets can wear right through on the main where they touch the shrouds and will need professional repair.
Check for holes in all sails and repairs in the gennaker that have been repaired with spinnaker tape.
Look for broken battens in the jib (which are actually a pain to replace as they are sewn into the pockets).
Look for broken battens in the main.
Look for cracks in the dolly near the axle
Inspect all welds on the road trailer (if included).
You want to see the boat fully assembled and make sure no parts are missing, and that all parts fit together.
Rig the boat with a neutral mast rake and take the boat out for a sail. Does it like to turn left? That is, on starboard tack or gybe does it have lee helm, and port it has weather helm? This may be because the port float is bow down with respect to the starboard one.
Don’t be too concerned about faded gelcoat – if can be buffed back to colour or recoated.