Conor Byrne remembers his best sailing in Ireland as being in Mermaids at his home port of Skerries writes W M Nixon. But for some time now he has been in the most tropical part of Australia in Darwin, and the best sailing there is in the Australian “winter” in July. It was July 18th to 25th when they staged the 2018 Australian Tasar Nationals, and Byrne and his crew Kieran Shortz were best of the locals at fourth overall in the very hot international fleet.
The 14ft Tasar was designed by Frank Bethwaite of Sydney (father of 49er designer Julian) in 1975. Conceived as the simplest possible two-person boat aimed at inter-generational crewing setups, she doesn’t use a spinnaker but nevertheless has proven an enduring design, with closely-monitored licensed builders in Singapore and Canada.
The Tasar offers straightforward sailing within a well-organised class, and the 45th Nationals at Darwin saw two boats under IRL numbers - in addition to Byrne and Shortz, there was a Sydney IRL crew who turned out to be Killian Sargent from Clontarf crewed by his wife Yvonne Murray from Tipperary.
In the end, it was father-and-daughter crew of Rob and Nicolle Douglass from New South Wales who won overall, picking up their 8th National Title. And after all that was done and dusted, the many visitors packed up their boats, and Darwin Sailing Club returned to its regular year round programme.
But even with a 12-month season, there has to be an end-of-year awards ceremony, and it was staged just recently, with Conor Byrne as MC. In theory, he knew everything that was about to happen. But somehow his clubmates kept it a complete secret from him that, at the end, he and Kieran Shortz were to be declared DSC’s “Sailors of the Year”……