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Resurgence of the lightweight Australian Sharpies in Tasmania

by Jane Austin 14 Feb 04:38 PST 14-16 February 2020
Australian Sharpies flying downwind © Greg Pratt

This weekend's Banjo's Shoreline Crown Series Bellerive Regatta will see seven 'Lightweight Sharpies' entered in the off-the-beach class.

The three-person high performance centreboard dinghy is a thrilling boat to sail and can race in almost any breeze. The Lightweight or Australian Sharpie is just over six metres in length, has a planing hull and single mast, a fully battened mainsail, jib and spinnaker.

The Class has made a comeback in recent months in Tasmania with newly elected Tasmanian Sharpies President, Oli Burnell, leading the charge with his brother Toby and Alice Buchanan (Bonfires).

Burnell is proving to be quite an accomplished one-design sailor. He is currently leading the SB20 Summer Pennant Series in Hobart and won the recent Sailing Champions League - Asia Pacific Southern Qualifier event in Geelong in January. Burnell is a driving force behind the recruitment of younger Tasmanian sailors into Sharpies.

It will be interesting to see who wins on the water this weekend as Alice Buchanan's father Rick and her younger brother Finn join Nick 'Camel' Johnston on board One Hump or Two.

Nick Smart, George Scott and Josh Brown are starting to look dangerous on the water on Geeveston Fanny and will be keeping the pressure on Johnston. Kirsty Gray, Julian Salter and Steve Salter (Gun Smoke) will head into the regatta on a high note after finishing third on performance handicap and 11th overall in the 2019-20 Sharpie Nationals in Perth in December.

Gray, from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, also took out first female skipper in the championship. Class stalwarts Nick Fleming, Rod Gay and perennial Sharpie front man Andrew 'Scissor' Rostron will be extremely dangerous on the water in their dusted off Gary Smith built boat, SharpShooter.

The Crown Series Regatta is a perfect lead in regatta to the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club Blockbuster Regatta, 22-23 February 2020, and the 2020 Tasmanian Sharpie Championship which is hosted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania from 14 to 15 March, 2020. The Australian Sharpie Nationals will be held in Hobart in 2021-22.

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