With the permission of James Case, his report on the British Sharpie Championships held on 18th-20th June is reproduced here. James thanked the Harbour Master, Robert Smith, and the Commissioners for their co-operation over the weekend of the championships. With strong winds forcing the sailing into the harbour, it made a big difference to the sailing, having the dredger and service vessels moved away from the racing area. "Serifina", the sailing club's committee boat, and the rib on the pontoon allowed the sailing club a prompt getaway for setting the courses.
By James Case:
British Sharpie Championships.
Wells S.C. Norfolk. 18th -20th June.
Wells Sailing Club hosted a successful Nationals attended by 22 Sharpies, for their 3 day championship. Wells rallied the members to help out in every capacity, ably
assisted by rescue boats from Brancaster Staithe SC, & OK class secretary, Andy Turner from Overy Staithe SC, doing an excellent job as PRO.
The choice of a spring tide weekend, to allow for harbour sailing in the event of strong winds proved to be a shrewd move. Bleary eyed crews arrived at 5.30AM to be met with a strong WSW breeze. The fleet headed to sea, however conditions were deemed borderline for safety with 30mph gusts, so the fleet returned inshore for harbour racing.
Recent ground works, to accommodate the wind farm boats have restricted the sailing area within the harbour, however the Harbour Commissioners cooperation in moving the dredger, and service vessels, allowed a good Olympic course to be set. The first beat options were to keep out of the flood tide to the North, or risk more tide but pick up the lifts closer to the beach. The latter proved the better option, with Case& Goodley rounding first, closely followed by the Gibbs brothers & Dutch father & son team, Verkaik. On the second beat, Gibbs put in a short tack to clear his wind, towards the beach. This proved to be astute, as they then powered upwind to take the lead, & hold it to the finish. Hardy & Coe were rewarded with the Chairmans Trophy for their efforts, for an above par finish, in 4th.
Race 2 saw Case rounding first, with the Verkaiks 2nd, and fellow Dutch team Van Vliet & Van Berkel in 3rd. These positions were held to the finish, with Gibbs in 4th, unable to break through the close attention of the Dutchmen.
Sunday offered no respite from the wind & rain, a short postponement was called, to allow the harbour to fill on the flood tide.
Race 3 followed a familiar pattern, with the first three boats being Case, Gibbs, & Verkaik. Case remembered his error from the previous day, & covered the Gibbs team hard on the second beat. However they used their weight & skill to power through to leeward, & just gain control shortly before the windward mark, before easing away to win.
Race 4 got underway at the second attempt, with more boats becoming attracted to a crowded pin end. Gibbs escaped from a poor start, weaving through the stream of starboard tack boats, to find clear air. They used exemplary teamwork, to tack on every shift, thus gaining the lead by the first mark. Many other crews were struggling to tack as smoothly in the fierce gusty conditions. Van Vliet gave chase in a comfortable 2❑d position. Case recovered from a poor start, to pinch third from Dutch team of Mulderij & Verlaan who were handicapped by a broken mainsheet mount; forcing them to hold
the mainsheet directly from the boom. The rescue boats were kept busy, with the gybe mark claiming many a capsize victim during the progressively frequent wild gusts.
The wind finally relented on Monday, allowing a sea course to be set. A light NW breeze barely sufficed to make progress against the strong tide, leading to a painfully slow first beat. Former champions Spink & Ellison appeared to be leading daughter Kiki Spink & Ed Metcalf back to Brancaster Staithe, far to the West; however this wily tactic of delaying his port tack out to sea proved to be well judged. An hour & a half after the start, he swooped round the windward mark, whilst those tempted offshore earlier, were barely stemming the tide. By finishing almost a leg of the course ahead, the time cut off, within 15 minutes of the first boat, proved severe. Only 5 boats made it, with Kiki claiming 2nd, and Richard Mulderij & Alastair Ogle in 3rd
With no further racing possible, the fleet were towed home, ready for the prize giving. The Bosham SC Sharpie crew's long distance attendance was recognised, by inviting their club to host the 2012 Sharpie Nationals.
Chris & Tim Gibbs deservedly extended their unique winning run, to 8 consecutive British Championship titles.
The Dutch were thanked for their continued support of the British Championships. Some crews will return for the European Sharpie Championships, from 24-29th July, hosted by Brancaster Staithe SC, who anticipate a fleet of over 60 boats.