Graham and Chris’ Thoughtful Boat…..!!

Isn’t it great that after decades of sailing, teams are still finding ways to push the boundaries of the boat.  As this is being written, it’s the weekend of the Datchet Open and at the end of day one, Ian Cadwallader’s boat is in the lead.  This was the P&B finished boat from the 2013 Dinghy Show.

At the 2014 show, we had a Phil Evans boat built for Justin Waples.  This well engineered layout from Phil has been with us for many years – I love it and have had three !!  Interesting for me then to see the Ovington factory finished boat  that won the Hong Kong Worlds in knockout style in the hands of Graham Vials and Chris Turner.  The thing that probably impressed me most was the rethink of who does what in their boat, and the resulting control layout.  That then coupled to a very detailed attention to detail and the fact that the cockpit looked a very clean place to race.

We’ve previously written about the jib ratchets, the mast gate and the toestrap adjusters. Then there is the innovation with the alto section rig – much has been written on that, and I suspect there will be even more this year as other top teams give it a try.    Hopefully, we’re going to put a video on the BIFFA Members area to show you more detail.  In the mean time, let me show you a few more things that caught my eye….IMG_2703

Very noticeable on this boat (and its predecessor) is the adjustable mainsheet bridle. The bridle goes down through a hole in the stern tank, along a a tube and emerges at the side tank like this.


If you have sailed other boats with a traveller, you’ll know the trick in light winds of pulling the traveller to windward to centre the boom without hardening the leach too much.  It used to make a heck of a difference on my Dragon, for example.  Well, with this setup, you can achieve the same thing.


I’m sorry for the rubbish focus in the above photo – it’ll be better in the BIFFA video, I expect.  You will be able to make out the key point though – Ovington have figured out which length of the shroud adjuster will never be used – and ground it off to reduce weight.

IMG_2705Interestingly by contrast, it looks like half of the jib track is never used – but it survived intact!!  (Inside the minimum weight of course!)


This idea of cutting a hole in the jib platform improves access to the bolts.  Note too that the hole at the bottom is used to tidy away one end of a control line, thus keeping the cockpit tidier.

IMG_2715Much talked about on their previous boat was the under deck furling system.  If I recall correctly the Mk 1 version had a wire strop above deck (though am not sure about that) and you can see here that this has become a solid bar.  More amazingly is the under deck part which I was entirely unable to photograph – it fits flush and smooth under the deck and makes no intrusion into the spinnaker chute at all !

IMG_2719IMG_2717Here’s a much better focussed photo of the shroud plate, but what I wanted to show you was the extremely neat end to the twinning line.  Very, very neat – I’m never a real fan of putting a bullet block there.    Also note that they have even tapered the twinning line itself (see photo to the left).


They used the same approach to securing the rear block at the centre of the main boom too.

IMG_2736The boat has a spinnaker chute and not bags.  Up at the bow, their chute cover has two exposed blocks, and Chris has made this terribly simple approach using sticky backed sailcloth to cover up both pulleys – to keep everything smooth and snag free.  So good!!

IMG_2710The bailers are interesting for a number of reasons. One is that they are smaller sized (like everything on this boat, there must be a reason!!), but can you see they are glassed in??  Normally the sole-plate of the bailer sits above the hull, thus making it impossible for the last bit of water to leave.  Not the case here!!

The last thing to note, is that the bailer has controls (pink line) to enable the bailers to be opened or closed while hanging out the other side of the boat.  See the video of how this works by clicking here. 


You can see the pink lines protruding from the console here that control the bailers.  The console itself looks pretty straight forward, but note the location of the 5kgs of lead on each side. I am very intrigued as I had previously accepted the logic of “lower the better” applying to corrector weight location.  Interesting!!!


To keep the side tanks clear of control lines, Chris and Graham have gone for one of those fancy double cleated swivels. So a bit less string, I would guess….


I’ve always been bit messy with my own markings for the mast ram, but it looks so clean and easy here. The mast collar maybe wraps around the mast less than on my epsilon.  Plus, I admit to being very intrigued at the neutral line (assuming the mast was in neutral at the show) being the bold line… and that the extra calibrations are pushing the mast towards inversion….. Hmmm …, Fine calibration intervals too.  What you can’t see so well, is that to looks like they have ground back the sides of the gate and there is about 2-3mm of sideways play.  Perhaps to improve the sideways bend characteristic above deck level – reading too much into it possibly?  By the way, tests at the Goacher Sails loft on the alto suggest that it might even be slightly stiffer fore and aft than the epsilon, and maybe 5% more flexible sideways – that showing mostly above the hounds at the tapered top.  Charles Apthorp told us that he is concluding of his new alto that it is not especially a mast for lightweights after all.


Typical of the detail thinking would be the forward toestraps.  Note the way that they have sewn in two eyes to take the retainer shock cord that lifts them up for easy access.


Now lets talk about the distribution of work in the boat.  On the forward coaming they have a stopwatch in the top left of the photo, the compass, and three control lines – furler, pole (there is also a pole control aft on the console) and chute cover.


The boat is rigged with a spinnaker chute, and the flow back into the boat is extremely clean.  This photo was taken by putting the camera down the hole at the bow and photographing backwards into the cockpit.  Note the vertical curtain running down the centre line.  Here’s another photo, this time from the cockpit end……


Now very controversially, the boat has no spinnaker sock in the cockpit.  Very interesting, and I’m hoping we can hear from Chris via the blog as top how they deal with all that sailcloth when the sail is down.  I thought perhaps they might have a shock cord retriever that pulls the excess cloth back up the chute, but there was no sign of one.

You know when you have a spinnaker sock in the cockpit the way you lead the line along the cockpit wall back to the helms position?  Well, they didn’t have that either. This implies to me that the bowman in this boat also drops the spinnaker down the chute. Unless I missed something!!

The pole by the way, is normal double ended and didn’t, from memory anyway, look like a fly away pole.

So – get the feeling that things are happening differently in this boat??  Well take a look at this….


IMG_2732The spinnaker halyard does not go down the tunnel, but across the top of the tunnel. It is automatically cleated at the forward end, so it is Chris at the bow who un-cleates the spinnaker for the drop….  Interesting!!

Now the addition of a turning block a couple of feet aft of the cleat suggests to me that on a reach for example, either the crew or the helm can hoist the sail – and if the pole is pre-mounted they can do that while hanging out!!…. Very interesting.  All this means too that the hatch over the tunnel in the floor has to be bolted down – not elasticated as normal.  You can clearly see the bolts in the photo.

So that’s a quick tour of the major things that struck me on our World Champions boat.

Ranking Extra – Our Top Clubs Now Ranked …..!!

I was interested to hear from Tom Waples that the FF Ranking platform can also spin out some data on how points add up by Club.  After all, it would give you some idea of where the strong pockets of people base themselves…..Lots of caveats, of course, but you can just see the depth of talent basing itself out of Hayling.

FF 2013 Ranking Club

Ovington Inlands at Grafham

A small fleet of Fifteens – but perfect in every detail! – gathered at Grafham over the weekend of November 16th – 17th for the annual Ovington Inland Championships. The weather forecast was for little breeze on Saturday and less on Sunday and this undoubtedly affected the size of the entry. Nevertheless, six home boats and two visitors hit the start line right on time for race one of the six races scheduled. PRO John Reynolds and his race team set an ‘old’ Olympic course round the club’s fixed marks. The fickle south-westerly breeze took the fleet up to a mark off the clubhouse shore, alarmingly close to the lay line to the 29ers’ windward mark on the next course. The fleet negotiated this challenge without event (other than a lot of place changing in the disturbed air) and the pecking order for the first race was established; at the front, a closely-fought tussle developed between Nick Taylor and Geoff Lloyd from the home fleet and Ben and Terry McGrane from Chew Valley – a contest won, after two triangles and a sausage, by the McGranes.

Nick got his revenge in Race 2, sailed over the same course. Elsewhere in the fleet, there were major changes in fortune: Barry and Katy Wyatt, from Grafham, soared to the unaccustomed heights of 2nd and the McGranes had to content themselves with 3rd. In the failing breeze, the PRO rightly decided to switch to a windward – leeward course. The Wyatts, finding themselves blanketed off the start, tacked off early and followed a lonely – but ultimately profitable – route up the right of the course to round in first place – a position they held to the end of the race. They were followed home by Les Rant and Susie Sontag (Grafham) and the ever-consistent McGranes. With both breeze and daylight failing, Race 4 was an attenuated affair, won by – you’ve guessed it! – the McGranes, closely followed by Nick Taylor. So, at the end of Day 1, after one discard, Nick led Ben and Terry by a single point.

Sunday dawned grey and miserable but with the bonus of a light NNE breeze that made racing possible, if not exciting. The PRO promised – and delivered – two sharp windward-leeward races. His judgement proved immaculate when the fickle breeze finally died just as the last boat came ashore. Conditions were challenging, in a cerebral sort of way. Should one stay in the middle of the lake, where the breeze was at its strongest or go for the expected lift off the north shore? Opinions were divided and no convincing answer emerged. A 30 degree wind shift during the final race further clouded the issue but, at the end of the morning, Ben and Terry, with a first and a third, did enough to topple Nick and Geoff (second and fifth) by a single point. Grafham Fleet Captain Jonathan Knight, crewed by his wife Tricia, ended on a high with a win in the final race.

All competitors were grateful to Grafham’s race teams and to race organiser Duncan Hepplewhite from Ovington Boats for an extremely enjoyable event, with a social side that is rapidly becoming the envy of the rest of the open meeting circuits.

Barry Wyatt, GWSC

Cowes Classic Week Gaining Traction……!!

You will recall that there is a growing regatta week at Cowes for Classic Yachts.  It seems that 2013 saw their Flying Fifteen section get underway!

Click here for the Cowes Classic Newsletter.

Bobby Salmond won it this year in Vamoose.  They haven’t said, I don’t think, how many entrants they had.  Lets hope the FF numbers grow now as the years go by.  Perhaps Bobby can tell us all about it via the blog?

What a terrific holiday it would be to buy the late Tim Tomlinson’s 2433 and take it to this Cowes event for a week.  Bliss.  Dream on!!!

Southern Travellers Final Review …!!

yellow spinnaker in close up(Classic Winners, John Craddock and Paul Kendall)

Over the four events of the series held at Llangorse, South Cerney, Broxbourne and Middle Nene there were a total of 39 teams competing from 7 Clubs with 8 qualifiers for the overall results.

sts blue spinnakerThe Classic Fleet with 22 entries and 6 qualifiers had the strongest support with 2695 John Craddock and Paul Kendall (Llangorse) taking a firm grip at the top followed by 2606 Bob Tait and Mick Musgrove (Broxbourne) in 2nd, but there was a big shuffle for 3rd at the final event with 2700 Neil Bartholomey and Emma Brown (Middle Nene) coming through strongly.

In the Silver Fleet attracting 9 entries and 2 qualifiers there was a very close result with 3374 Tony Oatley and Tim Greaves overhauling 3288 Alex and Mike Tatlow after the third event.

(Silver winners, Tony Oatley and Tim Greaves)

The Open Fleet had 8 entries from 3 Clubs but, disappointingly, none of the teams qualified for the overall results.

Click here to see the overall results

Everyone who sailed in the Series was full of praise for the organisation, enthusiasm and hospitality shown by the Host Clubs – the evening Dinner and social afterwards at Middle Nene is firmly established as the bench mark for future years!

Plans are already being made for next year with a special focus on how to attract more Open Fleet Teams to join in the series and experience the pleasure and benefits of honing their sailing skills against new competition on different waters.

Any suggestions or ideas on how to get even more “keels onto wheels” to take part in STS 2014 would be welcomed!!

Finally, many thanks to all those who took part this year, both on the water either in the Race Management Teams or as Competitors and on shore as essential support for the whole STS Series, without you we wouldn’t have a Southern Traveller Series!

Richard Taylor 2626

yellow spinnaker 2

Worlds – News from the Safety Briefing & Aussies Go For Cranes…!!

safety briefingSafety briefing today at 6.30 that all crews attended. Safety is paramount following the sinking of a ferry a year ago today. All boats released at 8.30 for nationals and worlds. Tomorrow’s practice race we will be released at 10.30.

One thing to note that all the ozzies have to be craned in and the brits all go in via the slipway! (what’s that all about!!)

Breeze tomorrow is as for today – 10-12 knots. There seems to be 10-20 degree wind shifts due to wind sheer as the water temp is same as air temp at 27-29 degrees 🙂

More data/reports to follow tomorrow…

Helen 🙂

GBR 3539

Hong Kong – Measuring Day….!!

Datchet’s very own John Hanson and Helen Hepworth (GBR 3539, Hakuna Matata) have arrived in Hong Kong!! They’ve kindly sent in some photos and news so that we can all get a sense of what it’s like!!

9am ferry to the clubWe arrived at the Club by Ferry!! What a sight!!

check out the view from the clubThere is a fantastic outlook across the Bay from here.

registration a happy eventRegistration at this Regatta is a very happy affair!  Hey, “Nice Shirts” too !!

got our boats out of the containers and put the keels back onFirst job, of course is to get the boats out of the containers and get the keels back on.

evereybody busy in the boat parkVery happy atmosphere in the boat park too.

hakuna starts measuringHakuna Matata starts her measuring in and decals (number 3!)

mast boom check and weigh inOur turn in the weighing rig!

sail measurementThe sail measurement is well organised and out of the glare of the sun

all clear so rig the boatWe are given the all clear and get the boat rigged

having a beer and practice tomorrowTime for a beer – practice tomorrow.  The Aussies have inflated opinions of their chances!!

The 2013 Draycote Sprint…..!!

Five visiting teams (from Llangorse, Datchet, Northampton & Hayling Island) joined eight home teams to compete in the final domestic event of the year, being the Draycote Sprint Open sponsored by Mercure Hotels.  Weather conditions were perfect, warm, dry, occasional sun and winds varying between 10 – 18 knots with enough shifts to make both the beats and runs challenging.  Racing commenced on schedule with six races consisting of windward/leeward courses being completed.

The first race saw a clean start with the home team of Richard Hope & Mike Stenson using local knowledge to keep right up the first beat to lead round the windward mark from the fleet president Jeremy Davy (Hayling Island) sailing with Martin Huett (Draycote) followed  Martin’s father, Geoff with Keith Snow in third place. Teams Hope/Stenson & Davy/Huett then pulled away from the fleet with Davy/Huett taking over the lead by the leeward mark.  Their lead grew over the next two laps with third place changing hands nearly on every leg. Finally, at the end of lap three, another home team, Simon Patterson & and our webmaster, Simon Thompson came through to take third.  Race two again saw teams Davy/Huett and Hope/Stenson slowly pull away from the fleet with Davy/Huett leading round the first mark. In third this time was Northampton’s Chris & Marion Bowen.  Four laps later and the positions remained unaltered despite team Hope/Stenson hitting the leeward mark on lap three.

A twenty minute on the water break was then taken to allow the competitors to recover mentally as well as physically!  Race three saw another clean start with team Davy/Huett again leading the way, a lead they would comfortably hold for all three laps.  The next three places saw three Draycote boats battling it out.  Eventually Steve Cooper & Anna Day broke free to comfortably finish in second, a vast improvement on their 9th and 5th places in the first two races, with team Patterson/Thompson narrowly beating team Hope/Stenson into third.  With the wind staying fairly constant, the race officer was able to get race four underway promptly and it was no surprise to see team Davy/Huett again leading from start to finish however they were pushed right to the end by Charles Apthorp and Jonathan Clark. Behind the leading pair, a battle royal was taking place between three teams, Bowen/Bowen, Hope/Stenson and Cooper/Day, with positions changing on a regular basis. Hope/Stenson looked to have secured third until their spinnaker sheet got jammed in the pole on the final gybe allowing team Bowen/Bowen to take third from team Cooper/Day.

Race 5 brought the most competitive race of the day with positions regularly changing as the fleet remained closely packed.  Team Apthorp/Clark continued their good form from race 4 to lead after the first lap closely from Davy/Huett.  However, by the end of lap 2, team Bowen/Bowen had taken over the lead only to see team Apthorp/Clarke take it back on the final beat and then to hold onto it take the race win. Having been in seventh rounding the windward mark for the final time, team Cooper/Day went left down the final run, found their own piece of wind, and eventually caught team Bowen/Bowen & team Davy/Huett, and having the inside position on the final mark, they took second place which they held to the finish, with team Bowen/Bowen in third.

So going into what turn out to be the last race (not that any of the competitors knew it at the time), team Davy/Huett had a ten point lead but with all races counting, they still had to finish the last race.  The home team of Hope/Stenson was three points in front of teams Apthorp/Clarke & Bowen/Bowen, who in turn were one point in front of Cooper/Day.  So pressure on!

Another clean start (making six out of six) which saw the top five overall boats battling it out all the way up the first beat. Indeed, the top five teams were the first five boats at the end of lap one.  Rounding in fifth was team Bowen/Bowen, but that as high as they got as eventually they ended up seventh to finish fifth overall.  Rounding in fourth was team Apthorp/Clarke but was starting to fall back from the leading three teams and eventually they finish fourth thus giving them fourth overall.  Rounding in third was team Davy/Huett who then managed to pass team Hope/Stenson up the next beat but could not manage to catch the leader so finished in second place to take the event overall.  Team Cooper/Day calmly kept their lead and took the final race.  However this was only good enough for third overall, as team Hope/Stenson finished comfortably in third place to take second overall.  The first silver boat winning the Full Frontal Trophy went to Draycote’s fleet captain, Pete Slater, crewed by Tim Case and the first classic boat winning the Falcon Cup went to John Craddock and Paul Kendall from Llangorse.  Congratulations to Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett for winning the Gifford Trophy.

Our thanks go to Mercure Hotels for sponsoring the event and to Alistair Jones and the Miracle for running the event and we look forward to hosting the event next year.

Click here for the full results

Richard Hope

Southern Travellers at Middle Nene….!!

2013 Flying Fifteen Southern Travellers Series

Middle Nene Sailing Club

12 / 13 October 2013

A fleet of 9 boats including 4 visitors from South Cerney, Llangorse and Broxbourne prepared for the fourth and final round of the Southern Traveller Series at Middle Nene SC in Northamptonshire with a forecast of 7 mph decreasing winds and emerging sunshine. For the first time in this year’s STS all the boats were Classics and the planned format of the racing was for 3 races on Saturday followed by a Crews race, and 2 races on Sunday.

The direction of the wind was quite “shifty” but mainly from the NE. This enabled the Race Officer to set a course which used most of the length of the lake for the beat, with a series of spinnaker reaches / gybes for the downwind legs.

Race 1 started cleanly and very soon the fleet was starting to split tacks with helms searching for the leading tack as the wind shifts moved across the lake. Initially there was much place changing throughout the fleet but as the race progressed visitors John Craddock / Kendall Paul (2695) showed at the front followed by local boat Jeremy Arnold / Dave Brown (2646) and visitors Brian Turner / Jackie Burns (3031).

Middle Nene 2013 1Race 2 started in a falling wind, and followed a similar pattern of helms searching for the best tack and trying to maintain their advantage on the downwind legs as the wind died. At the finish there was a breakaway group at the front with 2695 leading 2646 and visitors Richard Taylor / Paul Coates (2626) clear of the rest of the fleet.

At this point the lake was very calm and with no prospect of any better winds the Race Officer abandoned racing for the day, with the intention of making up the lost races on Sunday if the stronger winds forecasted overnight arrived.

Middle Nene 2013 2The home club hosted a superb 3 course dinner in the clubhouse and the evening was spent around the bar and playing rounds of “large block Jenga”, the highest tower reaching an impressive 27 layers  before crashing down – the RNLI benefiting by £1.00 each time!

On Sunday there was a complete change of weather – NW winds, gusting 12 to 17 mph and steady rain! The change of wind direction meant a much shorter beat and a mixture of runs / reaches downwind.

Race 3 started with swirling gusts rushing across the course which woke everyone up and generated some very exciting sailing, especially downwind on the very square runs! Local knowledge and skill saw new boats at the front with Mark Greer / Dave Jarvis (2433) in front of 2695 and Neil Bartholomey / Emma Brown (2700). Throughout the fleet there was considerable drama with the crew on 2626 going overboard in a crash gybe, which effectively ended their race!

Races 4 and 5 followed a similar action packed pattern with 2695 and 2700 trading places at the front and 3031 boosting their overall score in third place.

At the prize giving everyone was full of praise for the organisation, hospitality and race management of the Middle Nene team who produced a very memorable final event for the 2013 Southern Traveller Series.


1st – John Craddock / Kendall Paul 2695 – Llangorse SC

2nd – Neil Bartholomey / Emma Brown – Middle Nene SC

3rd – Jeremy Arnold / Dave Brown 2646 – Middle Nene SC

Click here for the full results