Dutch visitors take the series as Will claims historic Sharpies title
PUBLISHED: 09:59 22 June 2017
Wells Sailing Club played host to the Sharpie National Championship, with a British fleet boosted by the presence of five Dutch Sharpies and one German.
The tight racing schedule was immediately tested on the first day. Committee boat Serafina had a lively ride into Holkham bay, hoping the gusty westerly 4-5 would be manageable, albeit testing. Once the Sharpies arrived at sea, it became clear conditions would dictate a course in Wells harbour.
The Dutch boats revelled in the conditions, with Daan Versteeg/Patrick Neal in NED14 and Dennis Van Vliet/Patrick Van Raalte in NED135 both posting a first and second, with Jan Peter Braam/Jeroen Liesveld in NED 8 having what proved to be their worst day, posting a fourth and third. Martin Read/Imogen Gibbs GBR135 were a creditable fourth in race two.
The fleet raced at sea on day two, with a westerly force 2. ED8 rounded with a huge lead, with son and father Will and Chris Gibbs GBR125 second, and NED135 third, all holding their positions to the finish.
With a fading breeze, the course was compressed for the second race. The fleet behaved at the start, slowed as the wind reduced, and finished with a rapidly arranged shortened course, and an increasingly influential cross tide – NED8, GBR125, and NED135 crossed in that order, with another son/father team, Will & Tim Adams’ GBR134 in fourth.
The final day saw a stronger than anticipated breeze, which suited the Dutch again, with NED8 winning their third consecutive race, Peter Jonker/Peter Verkerk in NED118 second and GBR125 third.
The soaring heat played havoc with the wind, requiring numerous buoy movements. The strengthening tide pushed the fleet over the start line for the final race, leading to a general recall. This brought the black flag out for the restart. Eight boats fell victim. The vastly-reduced fleet brought new faces to the fore, with Andrew Cracknell/Justine Sykes GBR16 winning their first Nationals race. Second was NED14, with NED8 third.
NED8 won the series and Spring Rice trophy, with NED135 second. Third on points, and best placed Brit, Will Gibbs, became the youngest British Sharpie Champion, crewed by dad Chris.