The sharpie was designed in Germany by the Kroger brothers in 1931 and was the winner of a competition run by the German Sailing Federation for a sailing dinghy which could be built in one’s own building. It quickly became established as a powerful racing dinghy and attracted keen sailors, particularly in Germany, Holland and the UK. In it's heyday it was selected as the 2-man dinghy for the 1956 Olympic Games held in Australia.
Today the boat retains all the original characteristics of the class. The hull and spars are unchanged though the sail area has increased in size over the years from the original 12 square metres to nearer 16 square metres today. The sails have become quite technical with a sliding gaff rig and a mainsail controlled by multiple cunninghams and other adjusters. The sharpie continues to attract a high calibre of competitor and is extremely rewarding to sail, particularly upwind where its narrow beam and long length help it to slice to windward. In a blow the sharpie planes readily and can be very exciting when sailing at sea due to its low freeboard.
Designed in 1931 by the Kroger brothers, early boats were built by Kroger's own boatyard in Warnemunde and the Abeking & Rasmussen yard in Bremen. The first sharpies delivered to the UK came in a container to Kings Lynn docks where the story goes the owners drew lots to see which one they would own then unpacked and raced the dinghies straight away. The boats cost £45 each and came packed in an expensive mahogany crates. A consignment of 6 boats was also delivered to Barnt Green sailing club in Birmingham. The class proved ideal for the tidal waters around North Norfolk and the fleet grew rapidly, mainly based at Brancaster Staithe SC. The class was adopted by The United Hospitals SC and also The Royal Corinthian SC and was widely sailed along the East coast and the South coast particularly around Chichester and Langstone harbours.
The class was selected for the Olympics in Australia in 1956 where New Zealand won gold, Australia Silver and the UK won bronze.
The Flying Dutchman replaced the sharpie as the Olympic class in 1960 and the fleet numbers declined. Australia adapted the design by making a lightweight version with the same hull shape but built from quarter inch ply, the gaff rig replaced with an aluminium mast and a fully battened mainsail and the addition of a spinnaker and trapeze. This class (the lightweight sharpie) is still widely raced in Australia today. The solid construction of the class has been its saviour. Many hulls have survived years of neglect and have been cleaned up and restored back to beautiful condition. There are now approximately 60 sharpies in the UK which are in racing condition with fleets also in existence in Holland, Germany and Portugal. There is a national championship held every year which regularly attracts entries from overseas and a European championship hosted in rotation by England, Holland, Germany and Portugal. The Europeans regularly attract fleets of over 50 boats.
The class continues to thrive, with several boats being restored and a keen racing and social circuit. It is a notable feature of the class that many current owners are second or third generation owners, and it is surprising how many sailors have encountered the sharpie over the years.
January 2006 edition
The Class Rules of the International One-Design Sharpie
|Dudley Roessler||(BSOA President)|
|Ben Goakes||(Overy Staithe Rep)|
|Chris Hardy||(Wells Rep)|
|Paul Goakes||(Overy Staithe Rep)|
|Will Ellison||(Brancaster Rep)|