Showcasing ingredients of strong classes

Published on August 22nd, 2022

Highlighting the importance of grassroots manufacturers in sailing is the focus of a new documentary by Down Under Sail, titled From the Ground Up.

The documentary follows the journey of a brand new Australian Sharpie being built by South Australian boatbuilders Ross Lefrank and Grant Smith at Yacht Lab, as well as taking a closer look at the history of the class and how it has remained strong without large-scale factory builders.

Nearly 20-feet, the Australian Sharpie is a 3-person sailing dinghy which evolved from the 12-square-metre class sailed in the 1956 Olympics and now offers a planing hull and a fully battened mainsail, jib, and spinnaker.

Supported by Harken Australia, From the Ground Up digs a little deeper into what makes grassroots Australian classes tick, and why everyday people who choose to run a boat building business are the backbone of the sport.

Throughout the 30-minute documentary, a number of key people within the Sharpie fraternity share their thoughts, including veteran boat builder Robin ‘Macca’ Haselgrove, who built a total of 180 Sharpies in his small business Yachtcraft over a 40-year career.

His legacy continued with his son Tim Haselgrove taking over the family business in recent years and continuing to build Sharpies to sustain the Australian fleet.

It also hears from Sharpie owners Rod Allen and Alex Blacker who both recently built Sharpies through new builders Yacht Lab, as well as a number of other committee members and sailors within the class.

Harken Australia Managing Director Grant Pellew said it felt right to support this documentary project, to shine a light on those people who keep our sport going.

“We at Harken know the importance of classes that allow home builds and small boat builders,” he said. “It’s those grassroot builders that show the true passion for the class. Builders like Yacht Lab, Yachtcraft, and JPM that really put the heart and soul into these boats.

“Then there are the owners like Alex and Rod that have the class at the front of their mind. These are the ingredients for how great classes like the Sharpie are formed and grow stronger and stronger by these connections.”

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