Datchet FF Training and Coaching Day…..!!

You don’t have to get an RYA Coach to run coaching day for you!!  At Datchet the local Fleet Heroes, John Hanson and Helen Selden, ran a superb coaching day for the home fleet. The format was simple – kick off in the Commodore’s Room gathering everybody’s interests and requirements, then outside but onshore in the morning and afloat with video in the afternoon. Plus everyone had a lot of fun and escaped the Royal Wedding !!

Story and photos by Trevor Sparrow….

Datchet Bear “DW” had decided not to go to Royal Wedding because one of the guardsmen was wearing his auntie Pauline as a hat. So he went to the Flying Fifteen training day to see what happens. It was a hot windless day, just like every training day.


DW met the people who sail the Flying Fifteens. They are very nice people.

This is John Hanson who was running the training day . John’s boat goes very fast because he has a lady called Helen who crews for him. Helen is so secret we could not show her picture

The day started with everyone saying what they wanted to learn. Then we all went down (note Usain Bolt pose from John)

to the beach where two Flying Fifteens had been rigged while still on their trailers. One had the new jib and the other had the old style jib. By moving the boats around relative to the wind direction it was possible to walk around the boat and see the impact of small tweaks on the shape of the sails.

DW was interested to see how small changes in the outhaul can have a big impact on the shape of the slot between the jib and the main.


John explained how important it was to keep the jib sheeted down close to the foredeck so that pressure did not escape








DW  looked at the car position for the new jib and saw that it is much more inboard than before. It seems that the new jib is easier to set and requires less effort in heavier wind strengths

The next session looked at how to best set pole height for the spinnaker





























Then everybody went and discussed what they had learned.

The next session was on the water. Boats were filmed from a rib as they performed various tasks such as tacking. In the feedback session afterwards it was possible to talk through the good and bad points of what people had done. DW noticed that people liked to bump into Mervyn’s boat .


So what did DW think of the training day? He liked it because it was friendly, with everyone wanting to help each other. He learned lots of things to try and make his boat go faster. He thinks it would be a grand day out for any flying fifteen sailors, whether novice or skillful, to improve on their sailing. They should watch out for the next one.


Here are some pictures of the flying fifteen sailors, say hello when you see them…especially if you would like to sail a flying fifteen.

(Photo of Trevor praying for Breeze)

















FF Insight Zone Does “Light Airs Techniques”….!!

During the last Association training session at Datchet, coached by Association President Jeremy Davy, we managed to capture a fair bit of video.  We have some great footage on light weather tacking and spinnaker handling.

You can find it in the FF Insight Zone in the Members area of the Association website.  Go to the home page and select UK Association/Members/FF Insight Zone.  You have to enter your members password first.

Goacher FF Masterclass Online…..!!

Do you remember the excellent Goacher Masterclass video from a few years back??  It’s still very current and up-to-date, even now!!

If your household is like ours, we’ve gone hard disk, DVD and whatever – and the VHS machine has gone to the dump!!  Good news !!!  BIFFA has had the videotape digitised  and put online.  It has enough resolution to use on a larger screen – for training sessions at your Club fleet maybe.

You can find it in the Members area of the BIFFA website – click on “UK Association” then select “Members” and then “FF Insight Zone”.

Or you can click here

Datchet Training – Jeremy Davy on Tacking in the Light……!!

Tacking in the Light

BIFFA recently ran a coaching day at Datchet, with our Coach for the day being BIFFA President, Jeremy Davy.

We have a number of videos to show you, spilt into three groups – today we focus in two videos on jib slot management.  Turn your sound up to hear Jeremy’s commentary !!

Datchet Training – Jeremy Davy on Jib Slot Management…..!!

Jib Slot Management

BIFFA recently ran a coaching day at Datchet, with our Coach for the day being BIFFA President, Jeremy Davy.

We have a number of videos to show you, spilt into three groups – today we focus in two videos on jib slot management.  Turn your sound up to hear Jeremy’s commentary !!


The jib slot is very influential in developing power from the rig. After you tack you are looking for the bowman to take in as much sheet as he can so that the upper tell tale on the LEACH of the sail is just about flowing.  It is very sensitive to even 5mm of sheet tension so keep experimenting until you are used to it. As the wind strength fluctuates, you may have to adjust sheet tension several times during the beat to keep that upper telltale “just” flowing. Sitting to windward, you can view it through the upper mainsail window. When sitting to leeward, just strain your neck a little to look up directly into the slot and see what the telltales are up to. Now view the videos….


Datchet Coaching – Jeremy Davy on Spinnaker Flying….!!

Spinnaker Flying

BIFFA recently ran a coaching day at Datchet, with our Coach for the day being BIFFA President, Jeremy Davy.

We have a number of videos to show you, spilt into three groups – today we focus in two videos on spinnaker flying.  Turn your sound up to hear Jeremy’s commentary !!

It was a gentle day as far as the breeze was concerned, which for video may have been a good thing!


You will be looking to keep the spinnaker luff curling, but not solely by trimming either the guy or the sheet.  You generate more forward power as a rule by squaring off the pole as much as you can without causing the spinnaker to go tight across the foot. Keep playing the guy as well as the sheet, and use the cleat beside the shroud to maximum effect. Now see the videos….


This next video is a trial of a system called videopress


Video above…..

BIFFA Coaching at Datchet ….!!

BIFFA Training Day at Datchet Water SC

Jeremy Davy – our class President and erstwhile UK National Coach – came to Datchet Water on the first Saturday in October to put 5 Flying Fifteen crews through their paces. The wind was light which allowed us to practice our ‘sub-powered’ sailing skills.  The day was structured as 2 ‘on the water’ sessions sandwiched between 3 classroom sessions.

We started by listing all this things we wanted to work on collectively (pretty much everything!) and Jeremy gave us the low down on starting tactics before we went out for a series of very short races.  Jeremy gave us real time advice on starting, boat trim, tacking, hoisting and gybing from a RIB with Emma Bunting capturing the advice and impact on video.

We reviewed the video footage over lunch (we shall try to get these examples online soon) and shared our learnings before going out for a significantly improved sail in the afternoon (sadly the video memory card was full so you’ll have to take my word for that)

jeremyWe ended the day with a recap of what we had learned on the ‘areas for improvement’ identified at the start of the day (see the whiteboard in the photo) and everyone went away buzzing with enthusiasm to put their new found skills into practice.

The format of the day worked very well and I would heartily recommend any club to take up the offer of training if Simon Kneller knocks on your door.

Many thanks to Jeremy – and to Simon for setting up the day in the first place.

Mervyn Wright

(Datchet Water FF Fleet Captain)

Keelboat Clinic Trial at Datchet….!!

FF Clinic 2Picking up on Burton SC’s idea, Datchet ran a Keelboat Clinic last weekend.  A group of eight turned out, including two potential new owners.

FF Clinic 1The idea was very much self-help from the Fleet, and was both on and off the water.  Attendees listed topics they wanted to cover in advance, then led by Fleet Captain Mervyn Wright, and his predecessor, John Hanson, the group set about getting their questions answered.  We were lucky that winds were light, so we had a fifteen rigged on the shore for sail shape demos, the three boats went afloat – with lots of crew/helm swapping between boats.

Very good – if we get one or even two new members, as well as a skill upgrade, we shall consider it a great event!

FF Clinic 3

BIFFA Official Training Day, October 5th – 3 Places Left….!!

BIFFA Official Training Day 5th October 2013.

ffi-v_fly a fifteen logoThe venue is Datchet Water sailing club.. The date is 5th October – the weather is booked…sunshine and steady force 4… !

The instructor for the day is Jeremy Davy, class President, a previous UK National Coach and very successful sailor including a second place at this years Nationals .

The day is going to be limited to 10 boats maximum so that all ten teams get some quality 1-1 training and feedback from Jeremy.

The first 10 applications back to Keith Jamieson (BIFFA Secretary) with Cheque enclosed, will therefore be confirmed as attendees. We will keep a list of those ‘on reserve’ so any drop outs can be replaced.

Going forwards we hope to plan these events further ahead, so don’t despair if you miss out on this one – there will be more!

Having attended several of these events myself in the past, I can guarantee you will sail your boat better  after the training.– The key is to try and take away three really fundamental tips to build into your sailing repertoire and use them every time you race.

This is the sailing equivalent of going to the driving range – we should all do it more often!

If you have already sent your application in, then you definitely have a place!

Best of luck.

Simon Kneller, Training Officer BIFFA

London Keelboat Clinic…..!!

I agreed at the start of the year to organise a ‘keelboat clinic’ day at the Datchet club on Saturday 20th July – the time has come to do some organising so I’m looking for input!  The objectives I would like to achieve are:

1)      Provide  an opportunity for people to try out a Flying Fifteen for the first time

2)      Provide an opportunity for the regular FF sailors to learn from each other by

  1. comparing notes on each other’s boats onshore (fittings, setting etc)
  2. sailing with each other and/ or tuning against each other

What actually happens depends on your answers to three questions:

A)     Would you participate in such an event?

B)      Do you have any thoughts on the above objectives?

C)      Does this day (20th July) work for you – say 4 hours in the afternoon? (we have the opportunity to change the date if there is energy for such an event but this is an inconvenient day)

I would like to see responses from as many of you as possible as I see this as a potentially important event to build the numbers of people wanting to sail FFs at Datchet (so that includes those of you who aren’t regulars)

Please will you send any responses by the end of this week (Friday 28th June) so I can announce what we’re actually going to do this time next week

Thanks in advance

Mervyn Wright, Datchet Fleet Captain (contact via datchetman@flyingfifteen.com)

BIFFA National Training Launched…!!

You may have heard that BIFFA is launching a National Training Program.  Hopefully at least a couple of times a year, top quality coaches will run training sessions at key Regional Venues.  First off in the program is going to be held at Datchet and all comers are welcome.  Our very own fantastic Mike Hart will be the Coach – and numbers will be limited, so enrol quickly!!!  This is what Datchet Fleet Captain, Mervyn Wright, has to say about it:-

mervyn wright photoI am really excited that Datchet is being used to host the BIFFA training event on Saturday October 5th.  Datchet is regularly used to host training events for other classes because it is such a large piece of water so close to London and has great facilities indoors for training sessions.  We are delighted that the visiting Flying Fifteeners and Mike Hart will benefit from that experience.

Those of you who haven’t visited Datchet before will have seen on the blog how easy launching is – and those of you who have been before will have your first chance to see the fantastic new changing rooms and showers that have been installed in this year. 

We would love for all the visitors to stay over and join us in extended club racing on the Sunday to test out your new found skills straight away.  This will be at a reduced fee of £10 and prizes will be awarded.  We also plan to arrange a social gathering nearer the time for that all important exchange of views in a relaxed atmosphere that we all know is so crucial to consolidating learning!

Finally, if October is getting near the end of your normal sailing season, you are more than welcome to keep your boat at Datchet over the winter and join our club racing which goes all the way through – and of course you’ll have a head start of local knowledge for the Midwinter Championship and Winter Warm-Up series in February.

You’ve probably twigged by now that our cunning plan in hosting this event is for Datchet members to grab all the places available and boost our chances at future Open Meetings – so you had better sign up quickly if you don’t want that to happen!

Mervyn Wright


Click here to download the entry form

FF Training at Pwllheli….!!

I have organised a FF training event at Pwllheli for the Burton FF fleet on the 29th of June. I hope to have boats from Burton and Dovestone there plus a proportion of our Laser fleet.  If anyone would like to attend too with there boat then they are welcome.  Cost will be approx 30 or 40 pounds depending on attendeance.
Malcolm BSC