The Australian Sharpie is a highly competitive yet social class with a long history of attracting and developing champion sailors

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fwd: WA Motion to National Sharpie Meeting


Below is the Motion that the WA Division is putting forward to the National meeting of the ASSA in Hobart at Xmas. It's provided for your information. It's been circulated today nationally for States to consider ahead of the Hobart nationals.


Neil Stanbury

WA Division, ASSA.




To benefit all Australian sailors, the Western Australia Division of the ASSA proposes a modification to the operating model for annual national titles, to introduce a 'Central Nationals' every six years, in the geographically central location of South Australia. South Australia would retain its SA Nationals event in the sequence.

While it is acknowledged that the rotating sequence of Nationals in States has served the class well for over 40 years, times have changed. Australia is a very large country geographically and it is possible to make it cheaper and easier for more Sharpie boats to compete at more National titles, more often.

WA considers there are significant benefits to all Sharpie sailors in making this adjustment and relatively few disadvantages to sailors or State associations. Most importantly, this is about making the class itself stronger nationally.

While the proposed arrangement may appear at first glance to favour South Australia, this is neither the intention nor the actual case: WA argues such a change would strengthen Sharpie fleets in all states, by making it more achievable for all to participate in Nationals more often. It would make for larger and more exciting national championship fleets in many cases, and assist in 'future-proofing' the class nationally. Over time (and over the full 7-year cycle of Nationals in particular), it would also deliver significant cost-savings to sailors competing in Nationals, no matter where they are from.

It is believed this model has been adopted successfully by at least one other Australian dinghy class.

As an example, due to sheer distance, just one WA boat is competing in Tasmania this year, out of a State fleet of about 20 regularly-sailed boats. That campaign is costing more than $8000 which is the sole reason for the lack of other competitors. For the Perth Nationals, only one Queensland boat was able to travel to Perth and that is very understandable. Other States regularly have similar stories to tell, when it comes to travelling across a very large country to compete and the creation of a Central Nationals is unlikely to make other States' national events weaker than they are now. One strength of Sharpies right now is a strong national fleet and that feature should be nurtured and built upon.


Under the model proposed by WA, every sixth year would be known as the 'Central Nationals', adding one year to the full rotation cycle around the States.

In effect, the South Australia Division would host a Nationals every three years, with the first of these in the order being called the 'Central Nationals' and the second being the SA Nationals.

It is proposed the change commence after the upcoming Victorian nationals, as planning has already commenced for these titles. Furthermore, to insert the new "Central Nationals' at this point in the sequence would result in the retention of a relatively-good randomised geographic distribution of nationals events going forward.

This is how the sequence would work, going forward from Victoria onwards:

Vic 2016-17, Centrals, Qld, WA, SA, NSW, Tas, Centrals, Victoria, Qld, SA, WA, NSW, Centrals, Tas, Victoria, SA, Qld, WA, Centrals, WA, NSW, SA, Tas, Vic, Centrals and so on...


There are some financial and administrative considerations that would come with a Central Nationals every six years in SA, however SA would effectively double its profit opportunity in return, taking 100% of all profits for both the Central Nationals and its own SA Nationals.

While there is an additional administrative burden to SA in running the Centrals, there are considerable profit opportunities for it, and it is more than likely the SA Division could use some of those funds to hire administrative or other assistance for the Nationals.

Though it is a separate issue not addressed here, the proposed model is well-suited to the ASSA exploring (in the future) synchronising the Central Nationals from time to time with other classes' Nationals (eg: 125s, Flying Ants or other classes). This would give economies of scale (eg: same facility, committee and safety boats, race office, etc) and make for a richer overall Nationals experience for families and, in fact, everyone.


  • South Australia doubles its revenue potential, in return for administering the additional carnival.

  • This will further strengthen the national fleet, by making it cheaper for Sharpie sailors from all states to compete, due to having less distance to travel. SA is one and a half day's travel from Qld, WA and Tas and close for NSW and Vic.

  • By having a Central Nationals every six years, skippers who come into sharpies for a National title in any state are far more likely to keep the boat and stay 'in' the class for another two seasons to compete at the 'Centrals' as well, thereby cementing them into sharpie sailing for longer.

  • Due to reduced cost and convenience, a geographically central location every three years will result in large fleets of perhaps 70 boats or more for those (and possibly other) Nationals instead of 45 boats. It's well known that big, exciting, Nationals fleets are major attractors for sailors.

  • South Australia is already a very strong and resilient sharpie community, so the ASSA would be building upon an existing strength, in terms of nurturing a national fleet. It would be easy to be parochial on this proposal, but the national benefits should be recognised first, rather than just what it might mean for SA.

  • South Australian venues are reliable and exciting sailing locations, guaranteed to deliver strong and consistent breezes, ideally suited to sharpies. While it is the obvious central geographical location, it is also ideal for what is proposed in terms of sailing conditions.

  • Adelaide is the preferred location in SA for Central Nationals due to infrastructure, but titles could also be held in Port Lincoln or even Ceduna, while still delivering the general travel and cost benefits.


  • A longer cycle: National titles State-by-State cycle will go to every 7 years instead of every six years (except in the case of South Australia). This means each State other than SA has to wait an additional year to hold a carnival. This is considered a small concession in return for a far greater opportunity to compete in a national fleet far more regularly.

  • More work for SA: South Australia would host a carnival every three years instead of every six years, which would require more work by SA. This is true, but it represents an opportunity too for SA. Bigger Nationals fleets at Central Nationals means bigger profits, so SA could use these funds to contract out many of the event-planning and management aspects.

  • People might not go to other Nationals: WA doesn't believe this would be the case. There will always be sailors who either want to chase titles every year, or go for the experience of sailing in a particular State.


This proposal will be well-ventilated during December so that there are no surprises and everyone across Australia has had time to think about the pros and cons.

The proposal has also been flagged informally with Yachting Australia which responded by saying it believed the concept had merit, based upon SA's central location and 'putting the class first'.

WA puts this model forward in the best national interests of our great class and asks that the National Meeting vote in favour of the motions below.

Submitted with respect.

WA Division of the ASSA.

December, 2015.

RECOMMENDATION 1: That the ASSA amend the sequence of National Titles to introduce Central Nationals in South Australia every sixth year, hosted and run by the South Australia Division, with all profits returning to the SA Division.

RECOMMENDATION 2: That the new sequence of National titles commence with the first Central Nationals, in the year immediately after the upcoming Victorian nationals in 2016-17.

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