Historic racing dinghies come to Bosham

PUBLISHED: 01:16 06 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:27 20 February 2013

Sharpies at Chichester Harbour

Sharpies at Chichester Harbour

On the weekend of 22-24 June, more than 30 historic racing dinghies will converge on Bosham Sailing Club for the International 12sqm Sharpie National Championships...

EVERYONE knows about the wonderful period cars that take to the track at Goodwood Revival, but this month a sailing event on the same theme will take place not too far away as sailors of a boat known as Sharpies take to the water in Chichester Harbour.

Most of the boats will have been built in the 1930s and 1940s. Entries are expected from clubs on the north Norfolk coast, as well as Dutch and German clubs. Chichester Harbour saw many of these craft in the period before and after the Second World War with several clubs hosting a combined regatta over a whole week back in 1947 and several national events thereafter.

The 1947 event attracted entries from as far as Brazil and Portugal. Interest in the class had grown since its first design by the Kroger Brothers in Germany in 1931 and the British fleet had become well-established on the south and east coast within a decade.

It was the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne which saw the Sharpie reach its highest profile on the world racing scene. In those games British helm Jasper Blackall sailed his 1938 boat Chuckles (number 63) into good enough position to take the bronze medal. The boat had been earlier owned by Bosham sailor CNE Currey who had scooped the national championships consistently between 1947 and 1949.

Chuckles will be returning to Bosham for the event this year. She is now owned by Mike and Ed Farrell from Brancaster Staithes.

These venerable old Sharpies are not slow and regularly lead the way home in the fast division at Bosham where they race with a fleet of 70 other classic day boats. Being just short of 20ft in length and only 4ft 6ins wide, their billowing gaff rigs, whilst distinctly retro in appearance, produce a massive amount of power. Needless to say the crew need to be pretty agile although it does not take very long to cross from one side to the other of such a narrow boat.

The event this year is a great opportunity to take the re-establishment of south coast Sharpie racing further, and the club at Bosham welcomes interest from sailors who want to try their hand at sailing these classic racing boats.

Also returning for the event is a 1937 boat originally raced at Bosham, Maid of Arnhem (number 77), now owned by the Gibbs Brothers from Wells-Next-the-Sea. She was previously owned in Bosham by Neil Eden, now a retired marine surveyor, who no doubt will be taking a look at how his old boat is doing. Several of the boats competing (Garganey, 1949 and Tempest, 1950) were made at Sparkes Yard on Hayling Island whilst many others including Chuckles and Maid of Arnhem were Dutch-built.

It is hoped that Bobbie Currey will be able to take part in the prize-giving. As a young woman she was enticed to try a trapeze fitted to the Sharpie "Stormcock" (Number 38) to see if it would enhance performance.

Bobbies husband Charles went on to try the trapeze with devastating effect, winning the Prince of Wales Cup on the International 14 with Peter Scott at the helm in 1938. The device was then banned for a period before being ultimately accepted for that class and providing the basis for modern wide skiff designs that we see in performance dinghies today.

Charles Currey, a lifelong member of Bosham Sailing Club, eventually won a silver medal in the Finn class at the 1952 Olympic Games, as well as the Prince of Wales Cup in the International 14 class in 1959.

For more information visit www.boshamsailingclub.com

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