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An interview with Conner Blouin on the 2021 Waszp North American Championship Regatta

by David Schmidt 3 Dec 2021 20:57 GMT December 9-12, 2021
Hattie Rogers during the 2021 WASZP European Games © Anna Suslova / 2021 WASZP European Games

It's hard to argue with foiling: It's fast, it's fun, and it's sailing's future. The trouble? Cost. Some development-class boats require borderline arms-races commitments when it comes to foil development, and it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to move from platform to platform as a sailor advances, leaving some would-be foilers in the dinghy park rigging their Lasers.

Enter the Waszp, a One Design foiler that measures 11" LOA, carries 7'5" of beam, and weighs 100 pounds (sans sails).

The Waszp was designed in 2016 by Andrew McDougall and is being built by McConaghy Builders. To date, McConaghy has produced over 1,200 Waszps, which closely resemble Moths. They are available in three configurations: standard-rig Waszps, Waszp_X 5.8s and Waszp_X 6.9s (think Laser, Laser Radial), with the difference being sail area and cross bars.

This means that the same boat can be enjoyed by sailors aged 11 all the way to adult masters just by swapping rigs.

Not surprisingly, the class has rapidly attracted sailors on multiple continents and is generating great racing. Take, for example, this year's Waszp North American Championship Regatta, which is being hosted by the Davis Island Yacht Club, in Tampa, Florida, from December 9-12, 2021.

I checked in with Conner Blouin, regatta chair of the 2021 Waszp North American Championship, via email, to learn more about this exciting foiling affair.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing this year? Also, are there any notable geographical concentrations to this entry list? Ten to 15 [competitors]. A lot of sailors from the East Coast and a few Canadians will be joining us.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter off of Tampa in early-to-mid December? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

Tampa that time of year typically gets great Waszp weather. 10-20 knots.

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

I don't think local knowledge will play a role.

Do you have any teams 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?

I would look for Sam Blouin and Austin Powers as big players at the event. Kyle Rogachenko will also be a strong player.

How many races do you and the other organizers hope to score over the course of the regatta?

We are shooting for six races a day, and a grand total of 24.

Obviously 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?

Just getting the word out about the event as it was last minute. Sign ups have been good, and we are glad to see some Canadians coming.

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta's environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

I cannot speak to this.

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

We are excited for it to be a great event. I'm hoping to set a record number of races, and hopefully aim to set the standard format for Waszp events in the States moving forward.

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