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)

















Crews Rule in a Riveting Return to Ballyholme….!!

Report from the East Coast Championship, won by Rory and Andrew Martin
By Saturday evening, Ballyholme boat-park looked like a rivet exchange. Charlie was offering barely intelligible advice, Roger was watching his drill bits shatter and Keith’s lazy tongs were going like the bellows of a button accordion. The Dunmore lads were kicking the tyre on their jockey wheel, the Donegal team were replacing a tiller extension, and Alan was pacing around distributing nuts, bolts and engineering advice.

Ian remained relentlessly cheerful, despite possessing a crew who would have been better slipping into speedos and spec savers than a wetsuit. Mr Poole had earlier failed to collide with his toe-straps. The sponsor, Bosun Bob, was quids-in, Brian Willis Marine was peeling off the bows of many boats, and schoolgirls had been blown out of playgrounds.
It’s been a while since a weekend brought quite such a wrecking session, and it didn’t end there. Many top boats would feature a DNF by the end of the weekend, some a DNC. Ben managed a DFQ but for what, remains unclear. Dave and the President blew a block, Roger and the Rocket Scientist nearly lost a mast, while Lee and Andy’s departure from the course was also premature, but it’s unclear what the cause of that was. We can rest assured that it must have been something relatively serious though. Orla and Kieron’s Lethal Weapon got in a flap with missing batons, and there was a fair bit of groaning and cracking as joints were clicked back, and paws examined for weeping rope wounds.
Anyone who ever believed Flying Fifteen sailing is more about a helm than a crew, needs their head read. Up front it’s wetter, harder, heavier and hikier, and in winds like the weekend, actions at the pointy bit probably count for more than 70% of the results. We have to confess, some of it is about physique, whether that’s fitness of fatness is of little consequence. If you’ve got it and can get it out over the side, you’ll have a happy helm.
The sailing though, was great. The Ballyholmers know their bay – the beats were long but not tedious and we were treated to triangles in which the reaches were perfectly pitched. Mac and Doug, as usual, mastered the tighter angles, but were robbed of their usual heavy weather race wins. Other big-wind experts like Brian McKee had a great first day, as did Roger and Charlie with new cloth on show. Ian and Keith were in contention, and Sponsor Brian Willis with John McPeake sailed a strong few races. Dave and the President had a race win to lead overnight. The Martin brothers took the other two races, and then smashed and bashed their way ashore just in time to make the chandlery for repairs.
Day two was even windier, which gave the President – ever the opportunist, a chance to angle for a cancellation. The breeze abated though, and the fleet went out to battle again. The runs were pretty rolly polly, with some decent puffs. The Martin brothers got a few lucky breaks and pinched both races in a depleted fleet, as casualties of kit failure limped ashore. But it’s an ill-wind that blows no good, and at least they were treated to some good old jokes from Jimmy McKee, a Fifteen stalwart and organiser of the event.

By Tell-tale”


Waples Wines Northern Travellers – Tip of the Month Number 5 !!

Travellers tip #5 Communication:

“Lots of Communication is good so you both know what each of you are thinking and doing.  After the start it is important to communicate compass numbers to work out lifts and headers.  Boat speed and height.  Also if you are looking to tack making sure you have a lane to fit into is important and that you are not tacking into someone’s dirty air”.

Helm, Richard Lovering, ƒƒ4002


Scottish at Loch Tummel !!!

We have just taken the boat to Loch Tummel SC in readiness for the Scottish
Championships qualifying event in 10 days time.

What a great venue, beautiful scenery, large open water and friendly club.
It is shaping up to be a brilliant event.

If you are thinking of going have a look at the attached pictures and then
decide. Please let the club know if you are going so they can sort out the

David and Sally FF 4005

Waples Wines Northern Travellers -Tip Number 3 !!

Travellers tip #3 Rudder play:

“The next time you are in the dinghy park go around the other Flying Fifteens and see if you can move the bottom tip of their rudders. If you can there will be movement between the rudder bushes and the rudder stock. This is bad when sailing, as the rudder will vibrate and upset the flow of the water across the rudder causing drag and slowing you down.

The solution is to replace the nylon bushes which are found top and bottom of the rudder tube. I would recommend that you replace one at a time starting with the top bush and see if that solves the problem. To get the bushes out first try and tap them out with a long shafted screwdriver and if that doesn’t work you may have to use a junior hacksaw blade and wrap tape around one end to form a makeshift handle and cut saw drafts in the bush all around but be careful not to damage the rudder tube you will then be able to pull the bush out with a pair of long nose pliers.

You can then clean off the inside of the tube with fine sandpaper, apply a spot of epoxy glue and replace the old bush with a new one that you will be able to purchase from Pinnell and Bax. While you are attending to the rudder bushes you may also check that your rudder fits snugly to the hull. If there is a gap of over 6mm then you are again upsetting the flow of water across the rudder which slows you down. You can either push the rudder further up through the rudder tube or you may have to reshape the flange of the rudder. Either way make sure that the rudder then rotates freely without scrapping the hull”.

Helm, Bobby Salmond, ƒƒ202.

More on the M6 Incident – There must be some Lessons in Here Somewhere!!

Yes, that’s my boat!   I was about 50 yards in-front of the truck when that happened!

So, after the joys of a 7 hour drive up to Windemere on Friday afternoon, the return journey turned out even better!   We left RWYC at about 4.45 pm and I dropped off my crew at Oxenholme Station just after 5.  After getting something to eat and checking the trailer at Keele Services I thought things were looking better than Friday.  Then at 8.15 pm my tyre blew and I had to pull onto the hard shoulder underneath Junction 7 of the M6 just north of Birmingham.  After inspecting the shredded remains of the tyre I concluded the compressor foam kit in the car wasn’t going to help much so I phoned my breakdown assistance company to explain the problem – giving them details about the length of the boat and trailer.  A recovery truck turned up about half an hour later but took one look at the keel and decided he couldn’t get it on the back of his rig without scraping something.  He drove away saying the breakdown company would call me when they had found an alternative.  Forty-five minutes later I got a call from them saying they couldn’t find another truck so it was up to me to sort out the situation from the side of a noisy M6!  The only slightly helpful suggestion they made was to call up the Highways Agency from the nearest SOS phone box.

After a weird interruption from some foreigners waving a jump lead cable around, I walked down to the SOS box.  The Highways Agency advisor tried to get hold of an emergency tyre repair company after some problems reading the size, in the dark, on a deformed tyre.  After various calls they gave up on that idea (it was late on a Sunday evening by that point) and started to arrange a “Statutory Removal”.  Sometime later a Highways Agency Patrol Vehicle drove up and set out their cones and warning signs and waited with me until the removal vehicle arrived (we spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of standing behind the crash barrier in the cold).  Remarkably a very similar looking truck, as at 9pm, turned up at about 1215 am.  After some thought about the trailer overhang this recovery driver managed to winch the boat onto the back of his truck by using a couple of blocks of wood under the wheels to avoid the rear of the trailer and keel touching the tarmac.  So by roughly 12.30 pm the boat was all ready to drive off.

I then walked off down the edge of the hard shoulder to my car, which was parked far enough away to allow the recovery truck in.  Then BANG and I turned around to see what you can see in the pictures.  A blue Audi (A5?) had driven into the back of the patrol vehicle and ended up next to the central reservation just behind me.   I went back to the patrol vehicle to see whether I could be any help but the recovery driver seemed to be immediately in control of the situation and was running around checking on the situation of the casualties.  Luckily the two highways agency patrolmen managed to climb out of their vehicle in one piece after a minute or two in total shock.  As soon as they were out they got on with their jobs of making the rest of the situation as safe as possible.  They advised me to leave (probably because they didn’t want me going to sleep at the wheel as well).  I finally got home without the boat at 2.40.

Yesterday afternoon I bought two new wheels (so I can keep the surviving wheel as a spare) and I collected the boat today from Warwick Services.  I am off sailing tomorrow evening at Datchet.


Mike Clapp

Flying Fifteen #4027