The Sharpie class is preparing for one of its most exciting nationals yet, as the Victorian Sharpie Sailing Association and the Mordialloc Sailing Club get set to host the 2016/17 Australian Sharpie National Championships.
With a dedicated local team, the Victorians have been building for this event for the last four years and are sure it will be a success both on and off the water.
Led by the enthusiastic Victorian president, Jake Nichols, the revival has been a phenomenal one, bringing a lot of fun back into sailing – and now with the nationals only six weeks away, the quality of the 45-plus boat fleet will be second-to-none.
Mordialloc Sailing Club provides an ideal backdrop for this regatta, the friendly volunteers and sensational off-the-beach club house is purpose-built to host a regatta like the Sharpies. Grass rigging area, sandy beaches, bar and canteen facilities, all of which contribute to this fantastic location. Not to mention the foreshore township of Mordialloc with its cafes, pubs, restaurants and plenty more to do for families, it is the perfect place to start your holiday.
Last weekend the Victorians held their state championships at “Mordy”, which provided a great hit out for the 14 Sharpies lining up. There was incredibly close racing all the way through the fleet in a mix of conditions from 18-knot sea breezes on Saturday to a drifty Southerly on Sunday.
Local Jon Newman in ‘Ostentatious’ took out the series narrowly from Rod Allen in NFI, with consistency being the key for the Ostentatious crew. Jon, a former Musto Skiff World Champ in his own right, is a high-quality sailor and visiting teams need to be wary of the Victorians, proving that if it blows 20 knots they will be hard to beat on their home patch. Another race winner during the states was ‘The Fat Controller’, skippered by Dave Bretherton, which won the last race of the regatta and has former national champion Ben Solly up front – they will only go forward from here.
The Victorian fleet also has a number of junior and mixed-gender teams making up the remainder of the local fleet, which will no doubt make the off-water presence of the locals a definite feature of the regatta. With a general stoke for life and everything that goes with it, this will be one amazing beach party for eight days.
From an interstate point of view there are strong teams coming from all states. Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the class around the country.
The South Australians will be tough to beat as always, especially with new boats out of the mould and teams training three to four times a week, this approach will surely see good results. Reigning national champions Sam McCloud, Sam Flint and Mark Beaumont on ‘Warpig’ will be there, along with other big contenders such as last year’s runner up Tony Turton on ‘Don’t Poke the Bear’, Chris Went on ‘Trump’, Luke Stephens on ‘Beer Nuts’, Jason Heritage on the brand new ‘Maelstrom’, and Ryan Kelly on ‘Nude’. All of these boats have been seen putting in the hours during the week and will be tough to beat. These are the names that head up the 12-plus boats coming from South Australia, with rumours of two to three boats from the strong Port Lincoln fleet on the far west coast of the state also making the trip.
The West Aussies are seeing a resurgence and are making the trip over with five to six boats coming “in a box” (container). The fleet will be led by Ash Gabrielson, who finished fourth in last year’s nationals, in the newly purchased ‘Vita Brevis’, while the remainder of the boats coming are all of a high quality and also love the off-water scene just as much as the action on the water. It’s fantastic to see these guys making the huge effort to get over to Melbourne and I’m sure if the breeze is up the masters of the Fremantle Doctor will be trucking near the front of the fleet.
New South Wales
The New South Wales team looks likely to send about seven or eight boats, with Canberra’s Michael Forster in ‘Smoke’ the leader of the pack. Forster is a seasoned sharpie sailor with a flurry of good results and will be up in the mix at Mordy. The fleet also boasts a lot of youth coming from around New South Wales, which will provide plenty both on and off the water. The quality of boats are getting to a great standard in this state and we can expect a strong showing – and maybe a brand spanker fresh out the mould is not too far away.
The team from the Apple Isle has shown a solid resurgence after hosting the national titles on the Derwent last summer, with young guns Oli Burnell in ‘Bonfires’ and Maddy Salter in ‘Gun Smoke’ leading the way. Look for these guys to give the national junior championship at Mordy a fair shake as Maddy looks to retain from last year and Oli looks to steal the choccies from his sparring partner. It will be great to see this fleet develop significantly over the next few years with a number of kids coming through the international cadet program at the Sandy Bay Sailing Club.
The Queenslanders are a bit of an unknown at this stage, but there is no doubt they are showing strong numbers and enthusiasm leading into their home nationals at Yeppoon next year. We saw the wily old veteran Andrew Wells in ‘Jess’ make the trip to Hobart last year to help pump up the upcoming nationals and we are also expecting class stalwart Rick Outhred to come down to Melbourne in his boat, ‘Silent Butt Deadly’. Damian Byrt has been making some noise in Yeppoon and it looks like the local fleet is ready for the 2017/18 nationals… But will we see some in Melbourne? Let’s wait and see. Hoping for three to four boats from the far north this Christmas.
Check out this video, which shows what the conditions and the foreshore can be like at the Mordialloc Sailing Club…
Stay tuned as we continue the lead up for the regatta, with South Australia and New South Wales hosting the first rounds of their respective state titles this weekend, with both fleets expecting solid numbers on the water. There is a lot of evidence out there that our class is very strong right across the country.
For all information about the upcoming nationals, please look at the regatta website HERE.
For all other sharpie information head to www.sharpies.com.au