Frank Bethwaite DFC OAM, the designer of the Tasar among many other things, passed away on Saturday 12 May 2012 at 92 years of age.
Today he was farewelled at the Northbridge Sailing Club, which was described as sacred ground by the Bethwaite family.
I have been sailing the Tasar since I was 11, now for 16 years with my father Rob Douglass.
We have known Frank through the Tasar class for the length of this time, originally when he was still sailing the Tasar on occasion. I remember him sailing in the Brass Monkey Regatta at Long Jetty, winning a travellers trophy there in about 1999, and the dinghy championships at the YMCA, also winning a heat in about 2001. That was the last time I saw him sailing in a Tasar at 81 years of age.
My Dad and I, in the combination that Frank designed the boat, man and woman together, have been very successful. I think this is why Frank has been a big supporter of us, for which I have always felt very grateful, and special. We have so far won five national championships, and have not finished out of the top two at world or national level since 2005 when we won our first worlds and nationals in Darwin over 130 other competitors. We both joined the Tasar Association of NSW committee following this regatta, and are still on it today, to give back to our class.
We contributed a chapter to Frank’s Higher Performance Sailing, particularly focussed on our victory in Darwin. Frank wanted to know what we did to win that regatta, always the investigator, and we learned so much from him in the process. We have also assisted with testing his sailing simulator, and had an insight to his latest projects over the past few years, always gaining much advice and knowledge through our time with him. He always had time for us. In Thailand 2007, we had just come second at the Worlds to Jon McKee. He invited us to his room to chat about our experiences, and told us we were the most consistent Tasar team he had known. He continued to believe in our abilities, sometimes even we didn’t, which to us, a family team from Jervis Bay, was amazing encouragement.
In the past few months, we have completed writing another chapter on handling the Tasar for Frank’s latest book. It is fantastic that this will be completed and published on his behalf later this year. Just as Frank always had time for us, we always had time for Frank, and wish that we had more. I agree with Harry and what he said this evening, Dad and I feel as though we had so much more to learn from Frank. But then no one was ever going to keep up with him!
We last saw Frank at Easter when he came to visit at the NSW Tasar State Championships. He was at the AGM to present his designers report on building the carbon mast for the Tasar. He never stopped inventing, progressing or teaching in the sport of sailing. I was particularly proud to tell him, and I also asked him to tell Nel, that we were going to try to succeed in the reversed combination. He was supportive as always; thankyou also to Nell for encouraging me to steer for many years.
The Tasar has always been special to Frank; I am and always have been thankful for his “women welcome” attitude. He loved the efficiency of the boat that he had created, yet as a fellow perfectionist, was always aiming to improve it. The Tasar has always been a special boat to me, as I grew up sailing it and was able to share the experiences with my Dad, but also my family who were always there to support us. So quite naturally, Frank has a special place in my life through the boat that we both love and loved, his teaching, his support, his mentoring and the resulting effect that he has had on my family, and my passion in the sport of sailing. We sailed the Tasar this morning, just as we were sailing it on Saturday 12 May. We will think of him often; he will live on for us in the Tasar.
Many condolences to you Nel and your family.
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