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An interview with Derek Bottles on efforts to green-up the Tasar Worlds 2022

by David Schmidt 14 Sep 2022 16:00 BST September 17-25, 2022
Jonathan McKee & Libby Johnson McKee (USA) leading the fleet during the 2017 Tasar Worlds in Gamagori, Japan © Junichi Hirai / Bulkhead Magazine Japan

One of the best things that I've seen in my decade-plus tenure as Sail-World's North America Editor has been the growing conscious that regattas can—and should—leave the lowest possible environmental wake. For many regattas this means teaming up with an organization such as Sailors for the Sea (www.sailorsforthesea.org), whose Clean Regattas program helps yacht clubs and regattas to tidy up and earn different levels of certification, with Platinum Level Certification being the highest mark that an regatta can attain.

A great example of a world-championship event that has worked hard to be as green as possible is the Tasar Worlds 2022, which is taking place on the waters of Shilshole Bay, off of Seattle, Washington, and which is being hosted by the Seattle Yacht Club, with the Corinthian Yacht Club serving as venue host, from September 17-25.

This will be the first world championship title to be contested in Seattle in 40-plus years, and it will also be the city's first Sailors for the Sea-certified Clean Regatta.

I checked in with Derek Bottles, who is heading up the Tasar Worlds 2022's Clean Regatta Initiative, via email, to learn more about this world-championship level regatta's efforts run the cleanest possible event.

I understand that this is the first World Championship title to be contested in Seattle in 40-some years. Can you tell us about how this year's worlds came to the Emerald City?

The Tasar fleet has been part of the Seattle sailing scene for over 30 years. The boat is light, high-performance and perfect for two average-sized people to race competitively. The Seattle Fleet is strong and full of both people new to the class, and those that helped start the fleet here many years ago.

The Tasar World championship rotates between geographic locations where the fleet is dynamic and able to host an event of this caliber. The Pacific Northwest has hosted the event before in Vancouver, Victoria, and Cascade Locks. This year, with the support of Seattle Yacht Club, Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle, the local fleet put out in a bid and was accepted to host the event in Puget Sound.

We are thrilled to have teams from other countries come to Seattle to experience the beautiful setting and unique racing challenges we have on the Salish Sea, as well as provide an opportunity for local sailors to compete in a world championships in their own backyard.

I understand that the event organizers stepped up their efforts to lower the event's environmental wake and have worked with Sailors for the Sea to attain a high level clean regatta status. Can you please tell us about this process?

We have all read about green washing, groups saying they are doing something good for the environment etc. but not producing a real impact. That is where groups like Sailors for the Sea come in. They provide a level of accountability, more results than talk, and they help turn a general genuine desire to take action and put a framework around that. They have a good set of tools backed by research that regatta organizers can use to actually help the environment right here, locally where we are out on the water.

What were the highest hurdles that the clubs and the event organizers had to clear to make this happen?

Coordination. There are so many groups taking on parts of the overall event [that] the biggest challenges [has been] to make sure everyone has the information on how to deal with food service, recycling etc.

A weekend regatta with drinks at the host club afterwards would not have as much coordination but a week-long Worlds that is hosting events at several locations needs to make sure a much larger group of people are not buying single-use plastics or creating waste.

We also decide to take it a bit further and developed a Regatta Carbon Calculator with Seattle University. The calculator can be used by any regatta to measure the carbon impact of the event and then take steps to reduce the impact through partnerships or buying offsets. This tool is freely available and able to be customized and built on by any regatta organizer.

What were the biggest lessons that you and the other event organizers learned from working with Sailors for the Sea on this project?

The biggest surprise for me is the huge positive buy in from everyone we talk to. Our local sailors, yacht clubs, and sponsors are passionate about a clean environment and minimizing our impact.

What kind of advice can you offer other regattas that are interested in also attaining this same level status?

The toolkit from Sailors from the Sea is not hard to implement, they have put a lot of good work into what they offer, it is worth a try.

Now that the entry list has solidified, how stiff do you think competition levels will be?

Worlds are always hard, everyone brings their A game and this class has so many dedicated sailors who are putting significant time in, time on the water, looking for just that last bit of speed.

As far as the regatta itself, what aspects are you the most excited about?

It is a long event, for us (Becca and I) I think we will see a lot of improvement over the event to build a good foundation for the next Worlds. We will be on the steep part of the learning curve, and, frankly, seeing improvement day to day is exciting and rewarding.

Is there anything else that you'll like to add about the 2022 Tasar Worlds, for the record?

The organizing team has put in a lot of work, their dedication will make this a fantastic event. I joined the organization team late and am in awe of what they accomplished and continue to accomplish.

Editor's Note: To learn more about this exciting world-championship regatta, navigate your browser to: tasarworlds2022.org)

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