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55th European Sharpie Championship to be hosted at Itchenor Sailing Club

by Rachel Soothill 5 Aug 2019 19:35 BST 18-24 August 2019
European Sharpie Championship fleet © Event Media

This August 18th - 24th sailors and crew, with their families and supporters from across Europe will join forces with UK Sharpie Sailors at Itchenor Sailing Club for the 55th European Sharpie Championship.

The sailing will take place in Chichester Harbour, and the surrounding waters of Bracklesham Bay and Hayling Bay.

There will be a series of ten races and a great social programme with each competing nation hosting a themed evening, including a British Night, Dutch Pancake Night and more during the week culminating in a prize giving ceremony.

The 2019 Championship is being sponsored by Alan Boswell Group, Anglian Country Inns, Kraken Travel, Hilltop Outdoor Centre and Portal Comms.

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

Sharpies - A brief history

The International 12 Square Metre (sail size) Sharpie is a classic wooden sailing boat - Initially designed as a fast two man racing dinghy, which is also suitable for day cruising.It has shallow draught and a gaff rig and is 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 good speed. The boat was used for German Officer training in the pre war period on the lakes of North Germany.

The first eight boats in the UK were brought into Kings Lynn Docks, Norfolk, 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 2019 Championship.

Althoughmost boats are in excess of 60 - 90 years old, they are all magnificently restored and maintained. Each one carries its own history, something lacking in modern boats. There is a great sense of pride in preserving something, which has survived so long. Most sailors spend as much time maintaining the boats as sailing them.

A great supporter of the Sharpie, Janet Sanderson from Brancaster Staithe built her own Sharpie with her father - Fortuna - It was Janet who had the initiative of organising the first European Championships back in 1964 - making contact with Sharpie enthusiasts in Holland, Germany and Portugal. The 1964 Championship was held in Brancaster Staithe.

A Growing Fleet

This annual event has grown into a sailing extravaganza over the years with hard and fast competitors sailing for the European title. This year there are so far 42 competing Sharpies.

Interest in Sharpie racing is certainly growing again with a host of young sailors partaking and enthusiastic yachtsman from around the UK and Europe taking on many Sharpies as restoration projects. Several Sharpies have changed hands over the past 12 months and a top condition boat for sale is becoming difficult to find.

James Nunn, 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.'

Chris Gibbs, Sharpie Sailor said:'There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a fleet of Sharpies sailing together and is ultimately the reason us Sharpie sailors are members of BSOA (British Sharpie Owners Association) which helps preserve the Sharpie class we all love.'

To find out more please visit sharpies.org.uk and itchenorsc.co.uk or call 01243 512400.

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