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An interview with Lisa Renehan on the Tasar Worlds 2022

by David Schmidt 23 Aug 08:00 PDT September 17-25, 2022
2019 Tasar Worlds at Hayling Island © Peter Hickson

The Tasar was created in 1975 by the legendary Australian dinghy designer Frank Bethwaite, and it's fair to say that the boat was advanced for its time in terms of its rotating mast and hard-chined hull form. Bethwaite designed the boat, which is powered by a jib and mainsail, and which can plane upwind and off-the-breeze, to be sailed by a couple, a parent and a junior sailor, or any other combination that delivers a minimum combined crew weight of 287 pounds (130 kilograms).

Since its creation, the class, which benefits from talent-rife fleets in Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, and the USA, has enjoyed international racing since 1981. It received official recognition from World Sailing in 2001, and the class held its first World Championship regatta in 2003 on the waters off of Vancouver, British Columbia. Since then, the Tasar class has conducted its Worlds on a biennial basis, however the 2021 Worlds was postponed by a year due to the Covid pandemic.

This year's Tasar Worlds is being hosted by the Seattle Yacht Club and Corinthian Yacht Club, and will unfurl on the waters of Seattle's Shilshole Bay from September 17-25. A quick glance at past World Champions reveals a strong Seattle bias from the American entries. Locals Jonathan and Libby McKee have held the class's highest honor four times (1996, 2003, 2007, and 2017), and Carl and Carol Buchan, Jay and Lisa Renehan, and Anthony and Haley Boscolo have also all won different Tasar Worlds.

To say that the Seattle sailing scene is looking forward to this year's Tasar Worlds is akin to saying that Seattle sees its share of rain, fresh salmon, and world-class coffee.

I checked in with Lisa Renehan, regatta co-chair of the 2022 Tasar World Championships, via email, to learn more about this exciting One Design regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the current state of the Tasar class, its culture and competition levels, and the kinds of sailors that one can expect to encounter at this year's Worlds?

The Tasar class is fiercely competitive at all levels, and yet very welcoming and helpful.

At the Worlds, we'll have Olympic medalists, college All Americans, junior sailors, couples, and dads sailing with their kids.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing this year? How does this compare to other recent Worlds, and are there any notable geographical concentrations to this entry list?

In North America, the Tasar fleet is strongest in the Northwest - British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, but we do have some from other parts of the continent, as well as sailors from Australia and Japan.

Numbers are down considerably because of the prohibitive cost of container shipping. In past Worlds, the boat park has had four 40-foot containers with Tasars shipped from their homelands. This year, our overseas visitors are all chartering [boats] and we have scoured the country for suitable charters.

We have 28 teams registered so far.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter off of Seattle's Shilshole Marina in mid-to-late September? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

September is a great time to sail in Seattle. The days are still long but the doldrums of summer are past, and we start to see some weather patterns with more breeze.

We've held Worlds warm-up regattas the past two Septembers and had about equal parts light-to-medium and windy.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta's outcome? Can you please explain?

The course will be north of Meadow Point, well away from shore in deep water, not where we normally race just off the breakwater. The shore effects are minimal, but the currents will play a role.

We certainly haven't cracked the code for local knowledge - the successful teams will be those who keep their eyes open and pay attention.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) sailors, what would it be?

For local sailors, especially anyone who hasn't sailed at the international level before, take it seriously, prepare your equipment, and sail your best but don't stress too much about your results.

For our visitors, most of whom have sailed a Worlds or two before, look around while you are on the water and take in the breathtaking beauty of the Sound and mountains.

Do you have any entries that you're eyeing for podium finishes? What about any dark horses who you think could prove to be fast, once the starting guns begin sounding?

You can never count out the teams who've won previous Worlds - Jonathan and Libby McKee, Chris Dance and Peter Hacket, Anthony and Haley Boscolo, and yours truly, but we have some phenomenal young talent who could make it to the top - Alyosha Strum-Palerm and AnaLucia Clarkson, and Dieter Creitz and Sam Bush. And, of course, nobody would be surprised to see Dalton and Lindsay Bergan on the podium.

Organizing and running a big regatta amidst a still-churning pandemic isn't easy. Can you tell us about the biggest logistical and organizational hurdles that you've had to clear to make this happen?

The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty faced by our international teams. We delayed the event one year, due to the pandemic, but the outbreaks and changing travel rules and the outrageous cost of shipping boats have kept many teams home.

We have secured and prepared charter boats for everyone who wanted one, so the fleet is benefitting from the upgrades.

What kinds of post-racing/onshore entertainment can sailors look forward to?

On the night before the lay day, we have a cruise aboard the historic steamer Virginia V, with music, food and drink, and views of the downtown waterfront, Harbor Island and Alki.

On the other evenings, we have food and festivities at Corinthian Yacht Club, beer and snacks at Raptor Deck, opening ceremonies and the awards dinner at Seattle Yacht Club. And we have lots of prizes to give away after sailing every day. The sponsors have been good to us.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

This will be the first World Championship to be held in Seattle in 40+ years. And it will be the first ever "Clean Regatta" in Seattle, following the protocols of Sailors for the Sea in minimizing waste and reducing the carbon footprint.

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