Chuckles has last laugh in Sharpie end of season sail
Chuckles (GBR 63), expertly handled by a new combination of Brian Lambert and Ed Farrell, showed her Olympic pedigree in winning the Les Dye trophy, marking a thrilling finale to this year’s Sharpie Open events.
Despite some illnesses and the competing demands of a golfing tournament and a big family gathering, 13 Sharpies took to the water, with 11 making the start line on each day. The crews were rewarded with spectacular September weather, excellent event management and a first-class venue.
Tight racing inside Brancaster’s beautiful but at times challenging harbour saw four different winning crews, with Paddy Spink and Kiki Pattenden making the most of the light airs to take the first race of the series.
Brian and Ed then held off a consistently quick Wells duo in Tim Ashby and Harvey Gunhouse aboard Southern Cross (GBR 111) who beat both Capella and Poesje to the line by opting for the inshore tack as an at times flukey wind filled in from the South.
The shore team at Brancaster’s splendid club house served up an excellent spread for the traditional Sharpie Supper on the Saturday night, with the highlight the awarding by Wells Commodore Sally Wynne of the William Cracknell Memorial trophy to Pam and Mike Farrell for their many years of devotion to the Sharpie cause.
And Brancaster’s new fleet captain James Nunn, who showed his intent with a fifth position in Luffa (GBR 123) on day two, promised a drive to encourage a new generation of sailors to join the Sharpie fraternity, with a “youth” event planned ahead of the 2019 European Championships in Itchenor.
While the sun didn’t shine quite as brightly on day two, there was a fair wind to test the fleet. Alex Smith and Paul Beachell in Capella (GBR 128) grabbed a win in the third race after overhauling Adam Anthony and Bruce Kemp who were showing good boat speed in Skybird (GBR 127) until they came to grief on a mud bank during a tacking duel with the Overy boat.
Adam and Bruce managed to dry themselves out for race four and, with the wind gaining strength and the harbour becoming choppy, beat off a close challenge from Will and Tim Adams on boardPoesje (GBR 134).
Chuckles managed a third, their worst placing of the series showing their consistency and boat speed, after hunting down Capella at the start line to successfully scupper the Overy boat’s challenge.
The Les Dye welcomed some newcomers to the Sharpie fleet, with Annabel Groome joining Will Ellison aboard Rose of Sharon (GBR 105) and flying in race three in which they almost beat Chuckles.
Andrew Cracknell and Justine Sykes in Titania (GBR 16) sailed consistently but couldn’t quite find the fairy dust which won them the Lester Southerland.
Elsewhere in the fleet there were some interesting battles between Martin Few and Simon Neale in Tiger Shark (GBR 115), Nigel Spray in Tinqua (GBR 80) and Charlie Bennion and Jim Crossman aboard Kelpie (GBR 102).
A highlight of the whole event was Izzy Mulderij’s impressive crewing for her father Richard in the Wells boat Fuut (NED 226). Not only did they manage to match other boats for speed with a handkerchief jib and no pole downwind, but Izzy even managed to outsmile the missing Oggy.