Strong winds in Brighton welcome competitors to the Sharpie Nationals

Gusts of up to 32 knots off the coast of the Brighton & Seacliff Yacht Club yesterday welcomed 66 Sharpies to the 70th National Championships in their invitational races.

Two invitation races were scheduled to be sailed on Friday the 28th in the blustery conditions however due to many retirements and a few breakages, Principal Race Officer and Club Commodore Tony Gold deemed it necessary to call it quits after the conclusion of Race 1.

The first race provided plenty of excitement with just under 70 six-metre weapons flying around the start line. Clear air and speed from the beginning was going to be crucial.

As conditions strengthened, the top sailors in the fleet shone through and flourished in the powerful Gulf St. Vincent sea breeze.

Sharpie veteran Geoff McCloud sailing one of the newest additions to the fleet 'Warpig' with Sam Flint and Mark Beaumont won the race in brilliant fashion, with Geoff proving to the rest of the country that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with for championship honours after only ever coming third as his best result on two occasions.

Second to cross the line was local favourite Mal Higgins sailing the newest boat in the fleet 'Focus' with Sam Sanderson and Andrew Chisholm. Mal sailed a very consistent race and ended up with a quality result showing the fleet that he can do it all in any conditions.

Third place went to Tasmanian Drew Latham in 'One Hump or Two' with Nick Carter and Nick 'Camel' Johnstone. These guys are former Australian Sharpie national champions and sailed a brilliant race in the first of the series. They look like they could be a serious contender for the national title come January 5th when it all wraps up.

With so many experienced and talented yachtsmen and yachtswomen in the fleet, this should shape up to be a fiercely contested series and a cracker of a finish, and more results will be posted as the regatta rolls on.

Check out the Sharpie Nationals Website.