Sara Tharp – The Tournament Wife

Randall and Sara Tharp

Sara Tharp is the wife of Randall Tharp. Randall put down the hammer in 2007 and picked up a fishing rod. From there, Randall has won the FLW Cup, and fished his second Bassmaster Classic, just to highlight only a few career achievements. Randall and Sara call Florida home when Sara isn’t pulling the boat and Randall pulling the Camper. They have two of the cutest beagles, Cooper and Riley, who travel with Randall and Sara. Life is good for the Tharp’s’; Randall fishes and Sara has a beach (Mexico Beach, Fl) in the off-season, the best of both worlds for this sweet couple.

Randall Tharp's Pups

BS: Sara, what role do you play in Randy’s fishing career?
ST: “I try to handle everything off the water so he can focus 100% on fishing. Especially during Classic week, we wake up at 5:00 AM and the first thing I do is take care of the dogs – feed them, give them medicine and take them out. As soon as that’s done, I cook Randy eggs, bacon and toast. He needs to eat a good breakfast because I can’t count on him to eat during the day. If fishing is tough, he will barely take time to drink something, let alone eat. He sometimes eats his lunch after he weighs in each afternoon. After I get him fed, I make his lunch. Even though he may not eat it – I feel better if he has a healthy lunch packed. Then I get dressed and ready to go. I stock the cooler in the boat and make sure he also has drinks and ice. I launch him every morning and take the trailer back to the campground. The rest of my day is spent getting dinner ready, running errands, working on receipts, returning e-mails, sponsor obligations, reservations, social media, tackle runs…you name it. If something has to be done, it’s my job to handle it.”

BS: How does it feel being the wife of one of 56 anglers fishing in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic?
ST: “It’s exciting. It’s the biggest tournament in bass fishing. The entire week is a blur and we hardly get any sleep. The days go by so fast. I just want the best for him, at every tournament, but especially this one. I pray for a 5 fish limit each day.”

BS: When you are sitting in the arena and Randy’s song plays, you see his truck drive in, him sitting in his boat and he starts to step on stage, what goes through your mind?
ST: “Oh my gosh. It’s very emotional. I really can’t even explain it to be honest. I already know what he has to weigh in each day because I pick him up at the ramp and drive him to the weigh in. If it’s a good day, of course I am more relaxed and excited to see him weigh in. If he has had a difficult day, I am still excited to see him weigh in, but the disappointment and pressure he puts on himself makes me feel terrible. There is nothing worse than a bad day on the water in this tournament. It’s heart breaking.”

BS: What do you rely on most to keep yourself calm and to be Randy’s rock during the Classic?
ST: “I am a bit of a loner on tournament days, especially during the Classic. I try to stay busy and try to stay away from the BassTrakk updates. I never leave the camper because we are close to the lake. If something happens on the water and he needs me to come get him, I need to be dressed, close by and ready to jump in the truck and roll. I rely mainly on two people. First is Randy’s dad, Wayne. I text him often and he is good about calming me down. The other person I really rely on is one of our best friends, Rob Newell. He always knows exactly what to say to calm my nerves.”

BS: You and your fur babies’ travel with Randy, you do everything to keep things running smoothly for you four; but you also lend a hand to other anglers. What other hats do you wear besides wife on the tournament trail?
ST: “There are a lot of us that camp at the tournaments and we are all there for each other, no matter what someone needs. I have a washer and dryer in the camper, so I usually do laundry for some of the guys if their wives are not at a tournament. I cook every night and sometimes end up with an extra seat filled at our table. The guys are on the water daylight to dark, so any little thing I can do to make our friends’ day a little smoother is what I try to do. When we fished FLW, one of our friends actually called me wife number two. If his wife wasn’t there, I did what he needed as far as errands to help him out. I’m a part time cleaner, cook, courier, business manager, and psychologist for Randall when he is having a bad day or a bad tournament. All of the wives on the road wear these hats.”

BS: We know what a tournament day seems like for Randy, but what is a tournament day like for you, Sara?
ST: “It’s the same as any other day at an event. I’m usually trying to get the errands run, get dinner started, laundry, etc. I try to make something sweet for the service trailer staff to drop off during the day. They are stuck in a parking lot all day and are there to help any of the fishermen that have any mechanical issue. I like to let them know they are appreciated for what they do to keep the guys on the water. I vary what I make for them, but their number one request is strawberry pie. Other than that, the day is pretty nerve wracking because I have no control over what’s happening on the water.”

BS: How has fishing the Elite series changed your life from fishing FLW?
ST: “A lot more of the Elite Series family’s camp, so I have a lot more friends/support there. I was really nervous about us making the transition because I didn’t know a lot of the wives, but I have made some really good friends over the last year. I am going to miss my friends at FLW this year since we are not fishing both tours. As far as life changing, not much has changed except for the fact that we feel like we are in control now as far as our sponsors. With the FLW team deal, we weren’t allowed to communicate with our title sponsor, which we never really understood. Now, we have close relationships with every single sponsor and couldn’t be happier.

Betsy Steele

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