The 75th Sharpie Nationals started with a long 2,100km drive from Melbourne to Yeppoon in North Queensland. After 3 days in the car, FIGJAM Racing Team was ready to sail… except that the boat wasn’t in great condition and required a few repairs. These repairs took slightly longer than anticipated due to “Rad Robnell’s” chatty nature and meant Chloe, Dad and I left the beach only 10 minutes before racing started… 3 days in a row. Safe to say, tensions were running a little high, but nevertheless, we made it to the start line just in time.
The first few days of the regatta were met with windy conditions and a big swell, leaving lots of boats swimming rather than sailing. Despite a few scared remarks from Chloe as we flew (at times, literally) down the reaches, it was fantastic fun. I am proud to say that FIGJAM managed not to capsize during any of the races, however we did have a rather embarrassing one in the shallows that required lots of assistance from our fellow sailors.
By day 3, the wind had eased and trusty FIGJAM was holding together; no more repairs! We were finally getting on the water with plenty of time to spare. Lighter conditions also meant that the focus moved from survival sailing to race tactics. We had a few great starts and a few terrible ones, which were luckily all general recalls. There were good decisions and bad ones but overall we were getting results in the high teens and we were pretty happy sailors.
My highlight of the regatta was Race 6: we were in our usual position (about 20th) after the first lap but decided to go hard left (everyone else went right) and rounded the top mark in 2nd place!! We were soon overtaken by 2 other boats despite Dad waving frantically and yelling, “Harry! Harry! Look we’re coming SECOND!” We managed to hold our position down the reaches but were caught by two more boats while beating to the finish – 6th is still a record result for Team FIGJAM!
As well as the sailing, Sharpies are renowned for their social calendar and this National Carnival was no exception. With Welcome Night, States Night and Presentation being the official events for the regatta, New Years Eve and the two lay days were also enjoyed by sailors and families alike. Boats were auctioned off in the Calcutta at Welcome Night; matching team uniforms were displayed at States Night; everyone washed off the sunscreen and scrubbed up for Presentation; many beers were chugged and “Eagle Rock” was played on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, Chloe and I spent New Years Eve in bed with food poisoning… although I hear it was a fun night for everyone else.
Just when you thought we’d all be sick of boats, a group of us decided to charter a catamaran to sail out to North Keppel Island on the lay day. Our hosts were incredible, providing a full “surf and turf” lunch, snorkeling gear and a tiny RIB to take over to the island. We spent the day swimming, snorkeling, relaxing and eating and although it was an overcast day, there were some pretty impressive tan lines on display after.
Going away to National Championships each year is special for any sailor. You get to learn new skills, visit exciting places and catch up with friends that are sometimes only seen once a year. The Yeppoon Nationals was an amazing experience that ticked all the boxes and was a trip down memory lane for many sailors who competed there 24 years ago. Bring on the 76th Sharpie Nationals in Adelaide!
Link to results: http://sailingresults.kbsc.com.au/results/2017_18/Events/sharpies/SharpieNats/series.htm