12sq metre Sharpie (Heavyweight Sharpie) for sail in Australia.

This was posted on the woodwork forums overnight by Peter.  I can put him in contact with you if you are serious. Boat is in Tasmania

I ended up writing a little article that shows the links between the arrival of the 12sq metre Sharpie and its influences on Australian Dinghy design.

Looking closely at the pics I am not sure now whether this is a 12sq metre Sharpie, which would be planked in cedar or something heading towards becoming an Australian Lightweight Sharpie by being built of plywood.

Here’s one of those unrealised dreams that needs to be realised. Jabaru 11 was last sailed some 20+ years ago (maybe more). The project was to rebuild her as a day cruiser for the Derwent. The hull was repaired where needed, new ply was bought and cut for the forward deck, and that was about it.


Jabaru 11 needs to find a new home and her owner is willing to give her away to someone with the right intentions. Original Oregon mast and boom plus an aluminium mast that was part of the intended project which included re-rigging as a Lightweight Sharpie. Rudder and centreboard etc. The owner is currently looking for the sails but says they may be “lost”. There is a rudimentary steel trailer on 4-stud rims (Cortina?) that allows it to be rolled around.


She must be at least 50 years old, built in King Billy Pine and some Huon. She all looks pretty sound to me, some minor damage on the gunwales at the bow. A lovely hull shape.


I’m not the owner but have taken on the responsibility to find a home for Jabaru 11, so I won’t know all the answers to questions you might have, but ask anyway. Does anyone out there recognise the name, or have links back to Sharpie sailing in the early sixties?

This prompted me to write this article

This is a great thing.

I’ve got no connection with or knowledge about the sale.

This is one of the strange things where the boat as it is has little (relatively) value because so much work needs to be done and money spent – and that the person who buys it and does the work will never recover the money they spend on it – but will end up with something sensational. There is a chance always that someone can come along with a pocket full of money and willing to pay full price, but it is very unlikely.

So I am writing this to try and see if someone with the right attitude will look at grabbing this boat.

The heavyweight sharpies are just about the rarest and most notable dinghies in Australia’s boating history.

The Sharpies were designed as a boat for racing on European lakes and were one of the classes sailed in the Melbourne Olympics in ’56. I have seen drawings in Chapelle of a flat bottomed European Sharpie by Stampfl – the word sharpie in Europe seems to have meant a simplified box shape of the round hulled Jollenboot and Jollenkreuzer classes which were set up with restricted sail area and a box rule. The 12sq m sharpies were one design, or close to, and may have been envisaged as a feeder class for the more expensive Jollenboots (the flying dutchman comes out of that line of devlopment too).

Peter Mander from NZ won and second was Rolly Tasker from OZ. The Kiwi flag is up and the Oz about to be hoisted.

It is possible (but not a sure thing) that this boat was built for the Olympics as one of the competing boats – for one of the countries involved.

In a design sense it was very important for Australians to see these boats because they led directly to completely new thinking in the skiff classes – that sail area is not everything. A good sharpie, well sailed, could put the frighteners on the skiffs in the right conditions – smaller sail area and very refined devlelopment – sound familiar?

Ben Lexcen (then Bob Miller) wrote about how the arrival of the Sharpie and the Flying Dutchmen revolutionised the Australian 18 ft skiffs – Ben then designed two boats – Venom and Taipan which broke completely with skiff tradition – halving (or more than halving) the crew number to 3 and using PLYWOOD – shock horror! Of course the powers that be in the skiffs didn’t like this so had the boats banned. Taipan is on display in their annex a hundred yards from the Australian Maritime Museum.

This is Bob/Ben (flowerpot men?) helming Taipan.

See article here – Outimage: ANMM Press Release – Taipan. (a cute/funny thing is that the foils have “fences” to prevent ventilation and the article calls them “gates” – hehe)

Don’t make any mistake about it – this boat is like finding a late 1950s Maserati or Aston Martin with ripped apholstery and an engine that hasn’t been started for 20 years. The first thing that needs to happen is the Aluminium mast be thrown over the side and the original rig restored.

This photo shows why.

Pics are on flickr

If you turn up to any traditional or wooden boat event in this, the crowd will be gawking on the beach, you will have a million old timers coming up saying “I remember …” and you have a very good chance of blitzing the fleet.

12sq metre sharpie pic from the UK sharpie website.  We found one in OZ!

They are beautiful boats to handle – particularly in rough water – providing you sail them dead flat – and represent a pinnacle of traditional rig development. If you let them heel this much in any but the lightest winds you will go over.

It would be great for someone to put the time and money into this boat to get it back to original condition.

This is a pic from the 2004 worlds – wouldn’t you like to see an AUS sail number there?

A close look at a wound up boat – I really dig those little transoms on such a big boat – that’s part of the reason they have great rough water handling.

They don’t use spinnakers downwind – but Australians can’t help themselves locally.

So lets hope it gets into the right hands!

I have filched the sailing pics from the British Sharpie Association website.  I hope they forgive me!  Maybe they will because this is aimed at saving a notable boat!

Also there is a great article by South Australian Journalist Doug Hogg about the history of the 12 sq metre sharpie and its transition into the modern Australian Sharpie.

They would be a great resource for the restoration – it has the rules from the relevant era and probably much advice and many pics.

UK Sharpie Association

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24 thoughts on “12sq metre Sharpie (Heavyweight Sharpie) for sail in Australia.

  1. There was a UK Discovery Realtime series that was a “This Old House” type DIY boat restoration where they took on a much similar sharpie. It was in a lot rougher condition and they brought it back from the dead. They had to contend with things like poured in foam and such to take out.

    Would that be a pivoting centerboard or a daggerboard?

  2. Richard Monfries says:

    As a youngster, sailing an early (Mk 1 ‘Javelin’ style) NS14 with my Dad out of Brighton & Seacliff Yacht Club in Adelaide in the early ’70s, I remember the occasional Heavyweight Sharpie screaming past. I recall the ones that I saw were clinker built, and they looked heavy compared to our NS14, but man they could move! But those memories are dim, because what replaced them was the Australian LWS, which was even faster! It was amazing to see them flying around, carving up those big St Vincent Gulf swells. Our club champion in NS14s couldn’t help himself, and went over to the LWS.

    I really hope someone picks up this project. It’s living history from the halcyon days of affordable high class dinghy racing. (I’ve just picked up a Mk 1 Hartley 18, so I’m out.)



    • NOT completely out! I’ve always taken the Hartley TSs to be the point where dinghy design first moved into larger boats at least in the antipodes. They opened up all sorts of developments of light displacement, relatively flat and beamy yachts that could plane downwind – NZ had the Mullet boats too, I guess, but they were open, but still an influence.

      Though, from a European perspective, perhaps one could point at the very stylish 12sq metre Sharpie relatives the Jollenkreuzers. They had the same idea of limited sail area but not too many restrictions on the hull. I find it very surprising that knowledge of these boats never became very widespread in OZ despite the Sharpies having a similar heritage.

      And sailing reefed in a blow

      Or a Modern one.


      • I sailed a variety of sharpies from traditional heavyweight, through a heavyweight with ply sides (a light heavy weight owned by Rod Campbell) and a lightweight out of the George Town (Tamar River, Tasmania) Yacht Club (now defunct) in the late 60s. For a while we had 6 hws going, including the fast Jaeger owned by John McKenzie, most with original rigging but usually with spinaker and trapeze added. It was hoot, especially when trying to get back after a capsize as a sailing submarine. Once in such circumstances we found a cat with kittens in the front bouyancy of Rod Campbell’s. I want to get a heavy weight to sail in the next tasmanian Wooden Boat Festival.

        Where is this boat?

      • Thanks Nick.

        The boat is in Tasmania and I have passed your email address on to Peter. He was trying to find out more about the boat.

        I gather the Jaeger would have been one of the ones imported for the ’56 Olympics.

        Thanks so much for the extra info!


  3. jeffrey bowyer. says:

    Am restoring a wrecked Sharpie that some Dutch friends gave me,
    can send copy of plans by e-mail if wanted.
    jeff bowyer.

  4. We have a HWS at the Mordialloc Sailing in Melbourne that was used for the ’56 Olympics. It is in good condition and will be on public display on the 10th of April 2011 for our Wooden Boat Festival. See http://www.mwbf.Wordpress.com



    • Fantastic News Richard,

      I will post that on the discussion thread about the Heavyweight Sharpies on my forum too.

      Do you have any information or pics of your boat that you can send me so I can add to the discussion. Would be great to document one of the Olympic boats in photos so that others can see what they are about and have some guide for restoration. Even a few pics would help if you have the time and the chance to send them.

      Best wishes.

      • jeffery bowyer says:

        Give me your e-mail address and i will send you pics of sharpie as much as you want and/or send me your address and i can send you cd of sharpie events.

        I have crewed over the last 50 odd years Cassandra, Squall, Frisk, Lorralie, Gargany, (named after a Norfolk Duck). The british open is in july at wells next the sea.

        The international sharpie championship is at brancaster july /aug. My skipper and I are too old now so we towed Cssandra to Lisbon at Almarda to give to aclub there where restoration was done on it.

        Some friends in Holland Knowing I had long wanted to restore a sharpie said i could have an old wreck if i collected it from Brummen in holland. so iborrowed a trailer from friends in Brancaster and fetched it back to Home at Havant.
        It was called WINC and the hull covered inside and out with fibreglass.

        When the fibre glass was removed ( two weeks) a mahogany hull emerged, but the oak frames inside were rotted and crumby. So I have been restoring the inside frames bit by bit. The 35 mm keel I decided to replace a bit at atime as it was hogged 20 mm when we can turned the boat over.

        I have a cd of Andre’ Van Veen restoring Aulk Iv an old german Sharpie and this a great Help.
        Jeff bowyer.

      • Hi Jeff,

        Thankyou very much for that contribution above. Nice to see where the 12sq metre Sharpies are at now and have part of your story too. The fact of a CD showing the restoration of Aulk IV is around too will also help keep these magnificent boats on the water.

        I will email you directly to see about the photos. I would be interested, particularly if I can make them publicly available on the website – they are just such inspiring boats.


  5. Peter Johnston says:

    Hello Michael,
    enjoyed the read of your article.
    I have two 12 square metre boats both sailed as heavy weight sharpies and one sailed the olympics to the silver medal. Yes the Falcons III and IV. I sourced them many years ago to add to my collection of vintage sailing boats. Of course my dream was to restore a boat and sail the European summer regatta circuit. Well my Son has managed to consume my dream and money with motor sport.

    I now am considering selling one boat to a new home. However, what is the value???? These craft have a historic significance and my interest if finding the appropriate home for there future. The museums are very interested . However, no one has made a firm proposition to date. My vision is the boats are restored to active sailing rather than left in a shed behind a museum.

    If people have an interest I have collected drawings of the original 12 sq meter and other items of interest. I would be happy to chat at any time.
    I agree with your comments on cost of restoration. However, I see the excersise as a recreation of history and the opportunity for another generation to see these fine boats in action. Time to do the restoration is my challenge.

  6. I recently acquired a plywood boat, partly stripped, which I understand is a lightweight Sharpie. She is longer, however, than the dimensions shown in the Mystic Seaport version (Heavyweight presumably) From memory, my boat is nearly 21ft long. Front and side decks have been removed by previous owner beacuse of rot, and I would dearly like to see some plans to help with rebuild/placement of fittings. Hull otherwise in good condition. Boat has aluminium spars. Can someone help please?

    • Hi,

      The Australian Sharpie website or one of the state Australian sharpie websites will have some useful material for your “lightweight sharpie”. (Lightweight sharpie is now known as the Australian Sharpie and is distinct from the 10 square metre sharpie in the articles and posts above.

      I have seen downloadable plans for the old wooden lightweight sharpies. Also you can see lots of pics of how the boats are set up.

    • Hi Tony,
      A further addition. The Australan Lightweight Sharpie was about 19ft 7inches or thereabouts.

      I saw the Mystic Seaport sharpie in the flesh on Monday when three of us were shown through the storage shed there.

  7. Robert Young says:

    Am old HWS sailor from gippsland Lakes and have a HWS for restoration . I know nothing about her or wether she was originaly sailed here but am keen to restore her and am suprised to find such enthusiasm on the net. I am currently building a GL fishing boat so the project will have to wait for me to finish that. All details about HWS are available on the british website I look forward to correspondence with like minded people!
    Robert Young

    Added by Michael – British Sharpie Owner’s Association.

  8. I have posted a link to this article from http://www.sharpies.org.uk on the current list of know Australian Heavyweights


    If anyone wants any more details, or contacts in the UK then please contact me via the website


    Similarly if anyone has any further details about Australian Heavyweight Sharpies (or any others not listed on the website page.) that I have not included on the British site, then please contact me.

  9. Just wondering if this boat is still available?
    I am a shipwright living in Hobart and for many years have thought that I would love to have my own HW Sharpie. As a young boy in the late 60’s early 70’s my father had a beautiful HW Sharpie in Victoria and I have very fond memories of sailing with my father and brothers in the boat. Now that my kids are grown up and I have a little more time on my hands a boat like this would suit me right down to the ground. If it has already been sold it would not be out of the question that I would be silly enough to build a new 12sqm. sharpie!!

    • I am pretty sure it is sold, but a new build would be a very exciting thing. The plans are available from the European associations for the 12sq metre.

      There is a contact for the UK Association just above this comment. A representative dropped by to comment about finding more sharpies to register internationally.

      Best wishes

  10. There is a very nice and very rare 12sq metre Sharpie for sale at the moment on gumtree.

    12 square metre

    12 square metre sharpie for sale

    Looks great for $5000.

    Heavyweight 12 square metre sharpie for sale in Australia

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