FF Insight Zone – Easy Launching and Recovery……

If you are new to Fifteens, or thinking of buying one,  we find that most people are slightly wary about launching and recovery – especially if they are moving up from Dinghies.

The good news is that it’s all a piece of cake.  The majority of clubs use jetty launching – and the whole routine is surprisingly easy and DRY !!   You just need to know a few tips on setting up your trailer, and the new video on the FF Insight Zone will show you the basic ideas you need to get going.

You’ll find the video in the Members area of the BIFFA website.  Go to the website home page and click UK Association/Members/FF Insight Zone.  You’ll need your members password to log in first.

Canberra Cranes…..!!

Canberra Yacht Club Boat CraneCanberra Crane Spec'n detailsA little while ago, Graham Giles wrote in to say that two speed cranes used at Canberra made launch and retrieval more controllable.  Graham has just sent this photo plus their design plans….

The crane at Canberra is not materially different to the Freshwater Bay one, except that it is a commercial 1 tonne design, with a deep foundation (due to the lakeside surface material being fill) and therefore not requiring support struts.   It can accept boats on both sides and is hand slewed with a 3 position slew lock.  The hoist is a GIS GCH 1600SF with 12.5 and 3 metres/minute hoisting speeds.


Graham Giles

Ff AUS3657

Canberra Cranes Have Two Speed Capability….!!

Although more expensive and needing three phase power, a two speed (4 to 1 ratio) hoist has great benefits in precision and speed that users greatly appreciate. We have such a hoist at Canberra, with three phase power provided from an available single phase supply via an electronic phase changer, which was much less costly than running a three phase supply.

Graham Giles

ff AUS 3657

FF Craning at South Cerney…..!!!

OK – so the Aussies think they are pretty smart at the cricket, eh!!  As soon as it was stumps at the third test, I got three emails from down under reminding me straight away!!

Right! – so it looks like despite the warm climate, gorgeous water (as if that really matters to real men – ha !), their FF sailing is geared to staying dry and they do some pretty neat FF cranes to launch with.

What about British ingenuity though??!!!!   Come on GBR!!!! Can we come up with something even smarter, neater, (cheaper) – just you know, cleverer??!!  Well actually, there’s some pretty smart thinking been going on at South Cerney on dedicated FF cranes. Richard Taylor sent this in. Take a look…. You have to admire the sheer ingenuity!!  (£1=$A1.5  !!)

South Cerney Sailing Club

F15 Launching & Recovery by Crane

At SCSC we sail on a large excavated lake which has very “steep-too” banks. For Dinghies we have made a sloping gravel beach where they can be launched and recovered by hand easily on trolleys in only knee high depth of water.

South Cerney Crane 1

For F15’s this would involve either a deeper water slipway and winch or a 4×4 vehicle, all of which seemed a lot of “hassle” so, as we have number of Engineers with good contacts sailing in our fleet, we came up with a crane solution!

The pictures below show our current crane which, after 14 years of experience, has now been refined to the third generation. It is a free standing pillar crane mounted on a 1500 x 1500 x 10mm steel plate rawlbolted through to a 300mm thick reinforced concrete foundation.


South Cerney Crane 2 

The crane is manually operated and fitted with a Brake Winch that has friction plates which support the load when winding stops.


1. Position the boat under the hook and lower to hook-on the lifting strops previously attached to the boat – and check the bailers are closed!

 South Cerney attaching Boat 3

Note: The crane can pivot either left or right through more than 180 Degrees, so if there is no space on the pontoons it is possible to launch and sail off under Jib to hoist the main. (Also, there are “bump stops to prevent the trailer going over the edge!)


2. Remove the trailer so that the boat can be swung over the water, and the next boat to launch can begin to move in.


South Cerney swingh boat out4 

3. Lower the load by winding in reverse against the friction, which controls the rate of descent and enables it to be stopped instantly.

 South Cerney Lower Boat5

4. When the boat is resting on the water remove the wire lifting strops, which are attached to an eye plate fitted to the keel bolts behind the mast and to U-bolts fitted through the gunwales on each side at the rear of the cockpit.-

 South Cerney Keel bolt attachments6

South Cerney Rear Lines7

We are able to launch and recover in just a few minutes per boat and we usually work as a Helm & Crew team because it quicker and safer, but if necessary and with light winds it is quite possible to operate single handed.  

The crane is inspected and certified every year to comply with Health and Safety and insurance requirements. The maintenance costs are relatively low – greasing the top and bottom pivots and cable pulleys, cleaning the friction plates every year, and replacing these plates and the stainless steel cable every 3 years.

Our thanks to Richard Taylor and his colleagues at South Cerney for sending this in – very clever and very achievable!!!  ( I just keep thinking of dry feet !!)

By comparison, our new keelboat jetty at Datchet cost £25,000 plus !!!

FF Crane at Freshwater Bay – The Plan…!!

Starting to wonder which UK Clubs could gather up the resources to try building a Freshwater Bay type crane?? No more wading in up to your armpits at Hayling!!??  Richard Blaquiere kindly also made a quick drawing that we can see.  You’ll find an example of the £200 electric motor in the blog a few days ago.

RFBYC crane sketch


FF Cranes at Freshwater Bay…..!!

So now you’ve had the news about the Cricket, then I forced you to look at the amazing cranes at South of Perth YC. There’ll be a few brits choking on their porridge now…..

So is there a kind of “next level down” approach with lighter, cheaper cranes tuned to the needs of the FF??  Richard Blaquiere has kindly also sent us some photos from Royal Freshwater Bay YC in Perth.  Take a look at this !!  This is still motorised – see the motor mounted on the boom…

RFBYC cranes 005


Now that’s a bit more… well, British, don’t you think !!??!!

Here’s a few detail shots

RFBYC cranes 006


Note the weight limit

RFBYC cranes arm swivel 010


RFBYC cranes arm swivel 2 011


RFBYC cranes 007


RFBYC cranes 008


RFBYC cranes base 009




FF Cranes at South of Perth YC…..!!

Since the blog chatter started off by Helen Hepworth in Hong Kong pointing out that the Aussies all launch FFs by crane, we had additional contributions on cranes from Andy Murphy and Richard Taylor (South Cerney).

Now we suddenly have a flurry of FF crane photos and diagrams to show you!!

The first is from the home of the largest FF fleet in the world (any comment from HISC members??!!) at South Perth, WA.  It’s a pretty stunning and well capitalised setup there, but if there are any UK Commodores reading this you had better sit down….

SoPYC cranes 002

This is pretty industrial scale craning, and reminds me of the setup at Medway YC.  You can see though that some of the cranes have both large and small cranes built in.

SoPYC cranes 001

Uk readers should try to ignore all that blue water, cloudless sky etc.

SoPYC cranes 006

Now you might be thinking, “That’ll take a while – how you cope trying to launch a whole fleet quickly?”

Answer – lots of cranes!!

SoPYC three cranes 003

Thanks to Richard Blaquiere for the fabulous photos!