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Sharpie Europeans at Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club Preview

by Pamela Farrell 19 Jul 2011 07:58 BST 24-29 July 2011

This July 24 – 29 sailors and crew, their families and supporters from Europe will join forces with UK Sharpie sailors at Brancaster Staithe to sail in the 2011 European Sailing Championship and also celebrate the 80th year of the Sharpie. It is the 12th time the European Championship has been held in Brancaster Staithe. This year there are 62 boats (124 Sailors) competing – A campsite for the 250 visitors is organised by British Sharpie Owners Association - with a great line up of social activities, live music, fun & games – ‘Euro village with the Sharpie family’ comes to Brancaster Staithe for this period.

10 sailing races take place during the week culminating in a prize giving ceremony to announce the overall winner - Sailing either in Brancaster harbour and out to sea - viewing is good to watch off Brancaster beach.

The Sharpie class of boat is now sailed in the UK in Brancaster Staithe, Burnham Overy Staithe and Wells next the Sea and re-emerging on the South coast & in Europe in Holland, Germany and Portugal. The European Championship takes place each year and rotates between these four countries.

The Championship is being sponsored by Adnams of Southwold & Bitburger.

The International 12 Square Metre (sail size) Sharpie is a wooden sailing boat – Initially designed as a fast racing two-man centre boarder, which is also suitable for day cruising. It has shallow draught and a Günter rig, which is easily reefed and capable of standing reasonably heavy weather. Apart from toe straps, sitting out aids are not permitted.

The Sharpie was originally designed in Germany by Herr Kroger in 1931. After winning a design competition, the boat gained instant popularity both at home and abroad as an affordable but exciting class of boat with a shallow draft and good speed. The boat was used for German Officer training in the pre war period on the lakes of North Germany.

The first 8 boats in the UK were brought into Kings Lynn Docks in 1934 in Mahogany Boxes. They were then sent in pairs to different sailing clubs around the country including Barnt Green Sailing Club West Midlands and Ouse Amateur Sailing Club, Kings Lynn.

The Sharpie class continued to grow and was chosen as a Class for the Melbourne Australia Olympics in 1956 – in fact, Brancaster Staithe based ‘Chuckles’ GBR 63 won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics and has now been lovingly restored and will be sailing in the 2011 championship. Jaspar Blackall who crewed Chuckles in the Olympics now in his 80s, lives in Portugal and joins in with Sharpie Championship when in Portugal.

Although most boats are in excess of 50 – 80 years old, they are all magnificently restored and maintained. Each one carries its own history, something lacking in modern boats.

Interest in Sharpie racing is certainly growing again and enthusiastic yachtsmen from around Europe are taking on Sharpies as restoration projects.

Cliff Nye Sharpie Fleet Captain said ‘once the magic of a sharpie enters your lifestyle you become part of it for a very long time, there’s nothing that can compare’.

See www.sharpies.org.uk for more information.

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