Why Choose to Sail an FF?? – a Fleet Newcomer Tells Us….

Why choose to sail ffs?
 At Datchet we have a new member.    Nigel King.   His business is one of the multitude which serve the sailing/yachting world.    Until recently, he took no particular interest in ffs.    The interest began when he wanted to sail this winter ….. When a new member joins the Datchet fleet, we ask him why an ff and why Datchet.   

 Here is what he said about ffs.

When he began his search for a suitable boat he talked to many people.    Some were surprised at his approval of the ff.    Because it is an old design they assumed it must be inferior and no longer a real choice for the future of keel boat sailing.

In fact, Nigel thinks the ff is the best keelboat to sail because it is an old design, because it has evolved and has been de-bugged (in contrast to most of its competitors).

In his words “The reality is that it is better designed than most of the new A-sail keelboats, this is proved by the fifteen standing the test of time, it is a fast and responsive boat, yet forgiving when first learning to sail it”.

Then there is the issue of continuity – who wants to buy a boat whose class life is 3/4 years because the design is not good enough and the builder abandons it?   This describes many of the keelboats and dinghies which have been inflicted upon us in the last 10 years.

Nigel again “There is a strong second hand market that allows an owner to come in at a lower level first and a good second hand boat, well sailed, seems to be able to hold its own at club level”.

And 90% of BIFFA’s and our clubs’ potential market is club sailors.

And for club sailors, a keel boat is a superior winter boat.   Nigel chose a keel boat partly because he “did not want to spend our time swimming after our boat”    Indeed, who wants to swim around in freezing water trying to sail the latest exciting dinghy?

Also, he speaks of the kind of people who sail ffs.   “And the final thing is the friendly nature of all the sailors involved.   I think that I can say without any doubt every single person I have spoken to has gone out of the way to help and advise, as best they can.   In some cases people have gone beyond the pale in lending me their new boats (and crew) to help get us going in the fleet and no matter how good the boat is, it is the people that make a class association.

At least we have got this bit right!

Contrast Nigel’s views with the views of many UK ffers three years ago when we first began to work on changes to the rig.   It was thought to look old fashioned and needed to be made to look like an assymetric.   In other words, some of us did not believe in our class;  some were fearful that the ff would not survive the competition from the new designs.    We proposed to change our class image rather than tell people about its strengths – and as Nigel said  “only a confident class will build a bigger class”.

Maybe our first task is to convince ourselves!

Mike Firth


You can read about Nigel  at www.nigelkingyachting.com



2 thoughts on “Why Choose to Sail an FF?? – a Fleet Newcomer Tells Us….

  1. A “nice to hear” but the real point is that no, we do not need to change the rig at all. Our strength is in fleet racing and as long as all boats are the same that provides those close tight races that are the most exciting.

    I looked at the Laser KB3’s sailing at Garda on YouTube yesterday – in contrast to a FF they just looked like big bath tubs with sails – none of the ellegance and grace of a Fifteen.

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