We regret to announce the passing away of Leslie Donald Sharp on 21 July 2015. Les was the Inaugural Life Member of the Pacer Association of Australia, awarded on the 12 September 2003. To be awarded this honour a candidate must, “be a member who have given outstanding service and exceptional commitment to the Pacer Association and its objectives over a long and substantial part of their life, and who has been held in high regard and appreciation by the membership of the Association during that time”.
Those who have had the privilege of knowing Les are in no doubt of his suitability for this award. Les’s wife Pam, commented, “Les loved the Pacers and the Pacer people and camping with them for titles. I was so pleased for him when it was decided that he should be Life Member No.1, but I think he wondered what he had done to deserve it.”
A very modest man and a champion, winning the 1981 State and Australian Championships in Red Jacket, the first boat he built. Always at the top end of the fleet, he was a highly competitive sailor who conducted himself at the highest standard of sportsmanship, always congratulating his fellow competitors at the end of the race. Sailing until he was 83 years old, he shared his love and skills with many crew.
He started as a child sailing a converted canoe with his brother, and getting rather wet in the process! His introduction to racing was in a cadet dinghy (Red Jacket) at Brighton. Employment, marriage and family meant it was 1968 before he came back to sailing by joining the Beaumaris Yacht Club. His first boat was a Heron, followed soon after by a Pacer. Even while supporting a family of three children, he found time to participate fully in all the many tasks necessary to run a (then) very large club. His formal roles included Committee Member, Membership Officer, Chief Maintenance Officer and Commodore. He was awarded a Life Membership in tribute to his many contributions.
While Les had always built and repaired timber dinghies, after retiring from work, he began buying old timber Pacers and rebuilding them to a high and reliable standard. If you couldn’t afford a Jim French fibreglass Pacer, you would do well to buy a rebuilt Les Sharp Pacer – it wouldn’t let you down & there was always the chance that some of Les’s skills would transfer to the new skipper. It wasn’t only Pacers. Minnows, Sabres and a couple of 125s were also restored to their former glory, his Minnows being highly sought after. A staggering total of over 60 boats passed through his hands in this manner. When Les retired he was sailing Silver Fox. As each new or refurbished Pacer left his garage, he would try to name them in the fox theme. The last boat that Les sailed, which he also built, was Fox Folly.
He was a people person, even his home boatshed opened out onto the side street so that neighbours and friends could stop for a chat while viewing the work in progress. The rear brick drive was always where you parked your car when visiting because that’s where Les would be. If not, it was a short stroll to the back door for a chat in the kitchen over a cup of tea or coffee and one, (or two) of Pam’s delicious cookies. The front door was very rarely used.
At the club and regattas Les would talk to everyone, including the children, encouraging them to enjoy sailing while improving their skills. Always approachable and generous with his time and knowledge when help or advice was requested, it seemed he simply wanted people to get the same pleasure from sailing that he did.