These 12 metre Sharpies were photographed at their national racing chapionships held at Wells in Norfolk a couple of weeks ago – the shots were sent in by intheboatshed.net regular Jim Van Den Bos.
‘Staying at Wells we stumbled onto a Sharpie championship. Very narrow boats and the steel boards are truly frightening. Apparantly once they capsize, they need to go ashore to be righted.
‘The photos are from the Sunday when the boats were coming back in. On the Monday morning the weather was much nicer, but that day’s race turned out to be one of the slowest I’ve seen. Watching from the dunes at Holkham Bay I was at first amazed at how they were able to hold to the boats still at the start line – but then I realised they had already started! The tide was stronger than the wind and some were going backwards.
‘In the end the first passed the windward mark 90 minutes after start. The full race results are here: British Sharpie Championship,Wells S.C. Norfolk, 18-20 June 2011.’
I’m not sure about Jim’s point about the steel boards – one of our family dinghies has one, and it hasn’t caused me any concern up to now – except the day the painter got jammed in the centreboard case and I couldn’t see how to go ashore!
The 12 metre Sharpie was designed in 1931 and was at its most popular in 1956, when it was a racing class at the Melbourne Olympics. The class is sailed competitively in the UK, Holland, Germany and Portugal using boats built to the original design – although I gather sail areas have increased from the original 12 square metres. Australians race a lighter-weight modified version they call the Australian Sharpie.