2001 Two Visions, Times Arrow and Half a Loaf

Two visions,  time's arrow, and half a loaf

"I feel strongly that the function of a class association .. and the web pages that go with it  ..  should be the place where one can go for advice .."  Very fair comment.

Recently on the TasarSailors list (


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) there have been an increasing number of advocates for change.  Some have sought to add to or extend or complex the rig controls.   Some have regretted that I terminated the spinnaker experiment so quickly.  The following comments fall into the "advice" category.

Vision One
In 1960 a group of us dreamed of a boat which would not only be more suitable for men and women than any existing boat but one which would be much better than anything else then available.   The "better" bit is sometimes overlooked.  When the NS14, Nova and Tasar development had run its course,  the Tasar was a dad and mum no-trapeze no-spinnaker toe-strapper which could match and often beat the gun trapeze and spinnaker raceboats of its era.  My point is that it is sometimes proper to have faith in vision.

Along the way one of the key developments was to make the rig more automatic.  Year by year the clutter of string in the cockpits of the winning boats vanished until finally the winning boats had only the minimum controls and the shortest strings.   Philosophically,  the designer was beginning to do all of his job and design the rig as well as the hull.  When the rig proportions and flexibility and the sail shapes are properly matched to the hull and crew weight dynamics,  only basic controls are needed.  The rig flexibility does the rest automatically.

Look at any top Eighteen,  a 49er,  a 29er.  Their cockpits are incredibly clean.  Compare them,  if you can remember,  with the cluttered cockpits of the gun 5o5's or FD's of fifteen years ago and you will realise what has happened.   One of the truly significant comments about handling my new 59er is that it is easier to sail in stronger winds than in lighter.  I have gone through four topmasts,  three different rig geometries and three different sail shapes to get what I want,  but I regard this as one of the designer's most important responsibilities.

My message to those who want to put more string into the Tasar's cockpit is simple.  You will sail slower.

Half a loaf
The performance measurements of typical boats,  and the logic and critical ratios which enable apparent wind boats to perform,  are currently being published in a series of ten articles by me in "Seahorse" in UK and in "Australian Sailing" in Australia.  I thank Keith Melvin,  a Tasar sailor and contributor to these pages,  for verifying from the Northern hemisphere what I sense from my work out here.  Three of his comments (from these pages,  from memory and paraphrased)  -
At Minorca sailing two years ago -  "We started the afternoon race in a fleet of PA-1's (popular asymmetric No 1),  rounded the windward mark and set off downwind keeping our wind clear like you should.  Funny thing;  one crew had trouble hoisting,  sailed straight downwind under main and jib,  and beat us all to the leeward mark."        

At Minorca sailing again  -  "Downwind the 29er just went ballistic."

From Edinburg a year ago  -  "First day of the season proper.  Fleet was a Rockport skiff,  two RS800's,  nine PA-1's,  two PA-2's,  and the conventionals.  Wind was 6 to 14kts.  Course upwind-downwind,  wind agin tide.  The skiff and the RS800's enjoyed apparent wind sailing.  The rest of us did not.  I was crewing in a PA-1.  Downwind we tried sailing fast,  but could not.  So we cranked the bowsprit to windward,  pulled the centreboard right up and crabbed sideways almost directly to the leeward mark.  The other PA-1's quickly followed suit.  The two PA-2's were amazing;  they were just reaching back and forth on an upwind-downwind course"

My experimental Tasar would have been just like the PA-2's in that wind.  If I had sailed it at 70kg total crew weight (somebody suggested the Manly Graduate  -  their web page recommends a 50kg helm and a 20kg forward hand)  we might have done better.   David Ovington advises me that to win in a PA-1 " you have to be between 18 and 19 stone total" say 255lbs or 115kg.

This I regard as half a loaf.

Vision Two
The shape of the 59er is on the Bethwaite Design web page.  We say nothing there about performance.  Some straws in the wind  - All the many crews who have sailed it to date seem to weigh 150 to 180kg.   I designed it for 150,  but have increased the flotation of 59er-2 to cope easily with 170.  People are eating better nowadays.

Michael Stovin-Bradford 93kg (helm) and I at 73kg started in 59er-1 in a fleet of 49ers,  2 B-14's and 5 29er's in a SE'ly which alternated between 9 to 13kts and then 5 to 8kts every few minutes.  Waves were the typical harbour slop.   At the windward mark we were ahead of the B-14's which were ahead of the 29ers.   We were uncertain of the rounding,  so waited for the B-14's to round.  Downwind in the light stuff (at that moment) we were able to sail lower and just as fast as the B-14's and the 29ers and soon left them.   This was exactly the wind speed range in which the experimental Tasar would have been like the PA-1's.

Nicola and Roger Veitch,  about 150kg total,  sailed three windward/leeward twilight races in 59er-2.  Wind was 10 to 8kts at the windward mark,  4 to 6 and shifty near the leeward mark.  Water in Rose Bay was flat.    59er-2 has a slightly rounder bottom than 59er-1 and is more tolerant to heel and fore and aft trim.  Nicky found that she could roll tack it in the shifty stuff like her 470 (Australian Womens' 470 rep at the Seoul Olympics)   The 59er sailed between the 49ers and the 29ers,  except that as their tacking coordination improved their windward performance improved race by race and in the third race she arrived at the windward mark with the lead 49er.

David Ovington 75kg and Julian 90kg sailed 59er-2 in 20kts gusts 25 and matched the B-14 fleet.  Immediately prior to his visit David had sailed his B-14 in a major UK regatta,  so knows exactly what a B-14 can do.  Upwind in winds stronger than about 12kts the narrower no-trapeze 59er is not as fast as the lead wider-winged B-14's  -  their assessment was "about mid-fleet".  Downwind it was just as fast.

My vision for the Tasar when I tried it with a spinnaker was for a dad and mum toe-strapper which would be comfortable,  manageable and fast and attractive to baby boomers who are no longer featherweights.  The Tasar with its spinnaker did not fire.         It has taken longer than I expected to achieve vision two,  but I think we are nearly there.  Like the Tasar,  we will defend the privileges of adult crews of normal stature against light stringy adolescents with the same sort of crew rule.

I thank the class for the privilege of running a real experiment,  from which I learned so much.

Frank Bethwaite