2001 Designers Report

Designer's Report to the Tasar World Council

It is about twenty five years since the first production Tasar was displayed at the Annapolis Boat Show. This is an appropriate moment to review where The Tasar came from, what the class has achieved, and where it can go from here.

Where it came from.
The Tasar's origin lay in the meeting of two minds.
One mind was in Sydney. I have recently recounted the story of the Sydney group who nailed a flag to their masts. It read "Women are Welcome", and we meant it. In 1960 that message was truly revolutionary among those who sailed. Over the next fifteen years the Northbridge Senior class grew strongly and spread widely across Australia.

The obvious driver of that spectacular growth was class management by organisation-effective women who fostered the social and communicative aspects the class and made it so pleasant to belong to.

But there was a deeper and more subtle driver. By then the women's movement was sufficiently advanced for a "caste" system to reveal itself. At one end were the blue-collar workers and the body-contact sports, in which women had made almost no progress at all. At the other extreme were the academics and the professions, within whose ranks women bad already made real progress. This thinking, inverted, suggests that those men and women who elect to share their leisure time and pursuits are likely to be intelligent and committed. The Tasar was and remains the perfect bait to attract these people from the sailing community. Look at you neighbour and you will see what I mean.

The other mind was Ian Bruce's, in Montreal. After years of midnights spent detailing meaningless differences between nominally one-design International Fourteens, he too nailed a flag to his mast. It was called "Rigid One-Design", and it was named "Laser".

This driving idea also attracted highly committed sailors - those who preferred to compete on equal terms. Initial class growth was explosive.

Again, there was a second, less visible driver. This time it was an add-on called class organisation. Ian implemented a winning strategy. He provided first-class regatta management for every major Laser regatta. At a second level he provided a regular Laser newsletter through which Laser sailors everywhere could communicate - an early Internet, if you like. Owning a Laser became a ticket to a community. Class growth became huge. A Laser cube ranked with a Gold medal.

These two streams joined and in 1976 created the one-design Tasar from the development Nova.

Ian Bruce's seminal input into the Tasar class rules and constitution, as well as his superb industrial design and visual appearance contribution to the boat,  have never been adequately acknowledged.   I would like the class, on this twenty fifth anniversary, to recognise his contribution in some meaningful way.

What it has achieved
It's initial challenge was to survive.
For the first year or so the Tasar grew strongly from Montreal and Toronto, and from London. It enjoyed Montreal-centered newsletter and class management based on the Laser activity. Demand increased to about 500 boats per year in North America and about the same in UK/Europe.

Then disaster struck. Peformance (Montreal) failed financially. At about the same time Paul Davies, the UK manager and a strong Tasar supporter, was killed in an auto accident.

The result was unexpected. The numerically strongest fleets which were closest to Montreal, Toronto and London had developed no management structure of their own, and crumbled. The distant fleets on the West Coast and out of London had always managed themselves, and they survived.

In Australia all the organisational strength of the past eighteen years was unaffected, and it was from this strong base that the world movement spread and re-established itself, starting with the first World Championships in Canberra in 1981. An example of the class' commitment to growth and hospitality is that all the overseas entrants to that regatta were provided with loaned Tasars of high quality.

Since then the class has managed itself in the manner with which you are now familiar. It has spread to Japan. The first Tasars are now sailing in China.

During this period the class has enjoyed steady sound management and outstanding leadership from many men and women. I would like to acknowledge two in particular.

At that first Canberra worlds we dreamed of a new world organisation with regular World championships. Since then, Richard Spencer has been the officer primarily responsible for the steady class management and its re-establishment across the world, and more recently for processing its application to ISAF for recognised status, first as Chief Measurer, later as Executive Secretary. It is primarily Richard's work which has made the Canberra dream a reality. Richard has been the quiet, authoritative, continuous force behind the class' success for the past twenty years. I thank him for his contribution.

Keiji Yoshikawa, then Director of Architecture of Kumagai Gumi, wrote to me in 1985. He encouraged Tasars into Japan. He encouraged a group of Japanese Tasar sailors to join what we think was the first private group visit by Japanese sailors to visit and compete at an overseas regatta - that was at the Keppel Bay worlds. Who will ever forget the breaking of the ice with the Fool's dance? .He then organised the first Japanese World's at Hayama. The vision and courage to bring that first group of Japanese sailors to Keppel Bay, and the vision and courage to organise an English-speaking Worlds in Japan - these are extraordinary achievements. I thank him for his contribution and his commitment.

Where the Tasar can go from here.
Surprisingly, my assessment is much more optimistic now than it was a year or so ago. Despite its age, I think the Tasar will continue to give pleasure to its owners in particular locations for many years, and the class will remain strong.

My reasons for this view are -
The Tasar continues to be a pleasant boat for men and women to sail in. It continues to be fast, responsive and fun as compared with all other two-sail boats.

It will lose some sailors to the new asymmetrics, but not nearly as many as I had imagined would be the case awhile ago. All the asymmetrics can be divided into one of two groups.

Most of the present offering are "pretend" boats that don't work. They look like skiffs, but in many wind strengths the fastest way downwind is still to run near square (like my experimental Tasar). Not only is this disappointing; it is also frustrating because the asymmetric spinnaker isn't efficient when running near square. The Tasar is a "pure" boat which is consistent in the way it rewards the intelligent sailor - you do something right and the boat sails faster. I think that the typical Tasar sailor will want nothing of any "pretend" asymmetric. That is why I canned the experiment, and nobody has yet suggested that I did not serve the Tasar class well by doing so.

The real asymmetrics are tremendous fun to sail, but what I know now and didn't know a year ago is that they too have their problems in unsteady winds, i.e. in most small inland waters. As an example my 39er is now finishing between the 49er and the 29er fleets in the relatively steady winds of the main harbour, but in the unsteady winds of Northbridge's deep valleys with their near-calm lulls the spinnaker typically collapses every 30 to 60 sees. It then takes 10 to 15 sees for the next puff first to fill the spinnaker, then to accelerate crosswind before peeling off downwind at speed, at which point you run out of the puff and the spinnaker collapses again. At the bottom mark the nearby Laser or Tasar is often still ahead of you.

For this reason I now feel that the place of the Tasar will remain secure for a long time in all those clubs who sail in places with unsteady winds.

My best wishes to all officers and competitors at the Whitstable Worlds.

Frank Bethwaite
18th August 2001