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All About the Australian Lightweight Sharpie

It seems that once you start sailing these iconic three person dinghies you can't give them up - it doesn't matter what age you are, sailing Sharpies is just so much fun, the thrill of chasing the ultimate kite ride never stops and we just keep sailing these exciting machines.

The hull shape of these boats has not altered since the 60's and only a few minor changes to the rules have been allowed, the most recent being the introduction of a larger spinnaker. Carbon fibre is limited to 1.5 sq metres in the boat and only positioned in a certain areas. Alloy spars for the rig are allowed and sail material is pretty much open.

What this means is that, no matter how old your Sharpie is, provided it is sailed well you can still compete at the top end of the fleet. Some of the current top 10 place getters at Nationals are boats that are around 15 years old. Sharpies can be purchased for as little as $1000.00 or as much as $42,000.00 - but cheque books won't win races! You need sheer determination, practice and some luck.

So enjoy what you see and read and come FLY SHARPIE........ see you on the water soon.


Australian Lightweight Sharpies are a national one design class with a long history of evolution. The class is quite unusual in comparison to the majority of other dinghies, due to its distinctive shape, size and complement of crew (three: including skipper, main hand and forward hand on trapeze).

The class originally evolved from the 12 square metre class used in the 1956 Olympics, to form the basis of the Australian Heavyweight Sharpie; a solid wooden clinker style boat. With the increasing use of marine ply and the 'need for speed', the design was updated by the Addison brothers in Western Australia to take advantage of advances in sailing technology.

Heavyweight Sharpies still compete in regattas in Europe, with over 60 boats competing at the recent European Sharpie Championship 2008. Visit the British Sharpie Owners Association website at sharpies.org.uk for more information.

Modern fibreglass boats of today still retain this distinctive hard chine design, which makes sailing Sharpies competively so fiendishly difficult. Recent developments have included the use of larger spinnakers, digital compasses and there has been interest in roachier mains, which are still currently under development. However, it must be noted that these incremental developments have been controlled and sympathetic to the existing fleet, so as to not devalue the owner's current investment. In fact some fairly old Sharpies have managed to win the coveted National titles in recent years.

Image sourced from the British Sharpie Owners Association website


What's a typical weekend for Sharpies around the country?

The Victorians were out and about, with 6 boats caught in close racing in Ballarat and sightings of a sharpie on Port Phillip Bay sailing out of Parkdale YC, with a carbon rudder box....

sharpies sailing

South Australia held elimination heats at Adelaide Sailing Club "Area Construction" and "All Scoobed Out" looked to be the stand outs. Both are going to Perth for the Nationals.

Queenslanders headed Lake Cootharaba for the Monomasters/States. Damian Byrt will be down from Yeppoon to stir up the metro boats.

NSW sharpie fleet is going from strength to strength. For the last weekend in November 2013 they took to the water on Lake Illawarra, with 16 boats competing in the Kembla Klassic and Round 1 of the NSW State titles. Todd Curry in newly acquired "Truck" was on home turf fresh from a win in the ACT Dinghy titles .... and facing some tough competition from other local boats with Space Invaders making the results a bit of a Blur and the weekend passing with varying levels of Pleasure and Pain...link to Photo Gallery

And in Tasmania Camel and the boys will be training the house down on the Derwent.

Wind shift for space monkeys


It is with great sadness that we note the passing of a Sharpie legend and life member of both the Australian and South Australian Sharpie Associations.

A passionate boat builder and Sharpie historian, Doug was also the author of a famous book among Sharpie sailors called "History of the Sharpie". In 2011 Doug wrote his recollections of the early days at Largs Bay Sailing Club





Dream Team

Red Kite Sharpie


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