PY Handicaps….!!

We had an intriguing discussion at the Datchet Fleet AGM to move scoring in FF Races from first across the line, to PY handicaps.  A very good move for the Club Fleet, I feel – we currently have a large span of boat ages racing.

So it was with interest that I saw this comment come in on the UKFFA website….


(PS I hope you are all following the debate on the last post about “Sail Limitation” – it has 7 comments as of tonight!!!)


I guess by providing different handicaps for open, silver and classic boats, the class recognises that the performance of each age of boat is materially different. It is therefore also reasonable to validate these PY’s against the relative performance of other classes.

Why then should we not use these PYs in handicap racing? It is certainly what we do at our club, and it works pretty well – it is the approach taken by other classes like the Merlin Rocket where significant development has taken place over the years.

At least I understand now that the objective of the recent review was to improve the situation for older open boats, rather than older (i.e. classic and silver) boats – I am glad that my club doesn’t make me sail off 1017, as per your suggestion. I can’t think that there would be many silver or classic boat owners who would be happy with that!

FF K797 Restoration…..!!

Iain Christie from Draycote has been hard at work restoring FF 797.

photo 1

Although I enjoy slow relaxed cruising in the Sabre, my dinghy sailing tends to be a bit faster…the 49er or foiling Moth being the weapon of choice these days. At my inland club we also have a lot of Flying Fifteens…(prepare for tongue in cheek sweeping generalisation) usually sailed by gentlemen of a certain age, around the course, and into other boats. Granted they are quite pretty, but they’ve never really been my thing. Until a few years ago, when we saw one blasting out of Cowes in a F6, absolutey fantastic sight.

Sadly, like a puppy on new years day, some boats do get abandoned by their owners. People lose interest, repair bills get out of hand, and boats end up in the car park, where anything useful tends to go walkies, and the either a skip, or the bonfire beckons. I’ve seen some right **** get burnt (some of it so rotten it needs a LOT of petrol), but such a fate seemed just not right for this lovely shape, so I bought her very cheaply from the club, and towed her home….

photo 2

A few hours with the pressure washer and I found this rather lovely old wooden girl under all the slime. She was built in 1965 by Souters of Cowes, where ironically she last sailed quite a few years ago now in a regatta where something went “bang” around the mast gate and I understand that the owners at that time could not justify the repair bill and did not have the skills to fix her themselves. After a few years of abandonment down to the bonfire pile she went…

The rather beautiful cold moulded hull is in exceptionally good condition, and just a thing of great beauty…

photo 3

The deck ain’t bad, all the wood is good and looks loads better now it’s stripped. The biggest issue is that a lot of the old glue has given up on the joints and there’s a lot of movement around the mast gate area. This will be sorted out with a lot of epoxy fillets. I think the bulkhead has been changed at some point to some low grade marine ply that has blackened and needs a good going over with oxalic acid, and some tidying up with additional “finishing” trim. I’ve almost stripped off all that horrible tread master and she looks lots better for it with a big expanse of wooden deck…although I might need to deal with a difference in colour where it’s been covered for many years.

photo 4

As you can see nearly every fitting is still there which is great…just need some sails! You can also see the gunwales…they look to have been replaced fairly recently, with totally unvarnished softwood, held in place with steel nails! The results are predictable, but fortunatly the rot has not spread to the boat herself. These are now off and will be replaced with new hardwood ones, scarfed and epoxied in place.

I’ve never been remotely interested in Flying Fifteens, and prefer my dinghies to do 20 knots plus and have a high carbon content, but I have totally fallen in love with this lovely old wooden classic. I’ll update with pics as I progress, but she is already looking a lot better with stripped decks, and a big consignment of epoxy and materials has arrived ready to start the rebuilding, rather than dismantling, process in the next few weeks.

I’ll get her back on the water inland first to make sure all is OK, and then I plan to take her to my coastal club, and sail her back to over to Cowes where she was built nearly half a century ago.

Fifteen Fifteens – and Cowes Classics Week….!!

In recent years, our Club has been celebrating the birthday of our oldest fleet member with a little “family regatta”.  It’s had several formats, and the friendliest of them has seen very large turnouts from the home fleet, regardless of boat age.  People will, it seems, turn out for the light hearted social/sailing occasion.

Malcom Hall was telling me that at Burton they have tried the idea of nominating a day as “Fifteen Fifteens Day” – with the aim of getting most of the home fleet out on the water.  They had a bit of a blowy time, so some stayed ashore – but a dozen fifteens raced that day.  Not a bad idea really !!!!

You might have seen a day or two ago that the Cowes Classic Week got a FF fleet for the first time in 2013.  We think it was perhaps only 3 or 4 boats and Bobby Salmond won it. Actually what a great way to enjoy Cowes without all the usual Cowes Week bustle and prices!!  So Malcolm has suggested we ought to see if we can get fifteen fifteens to the start line at Cowes Classics next year??  How about that as an idea??  There might be some owners in France and Belgium that might come.  I think that the 6 Metres bring along boats of all ages including the modern ones.  Maybe we should do the same to try and get it going – invite classic, silver and open??

Let us know what you think!!

Classic Cotton Genoa Needs a Home…!!

Hamish vintage FF sailHi,
Does anyone have a good home for this sail – it should really be in a museum?
I got it from my father in law, it has been sitting in his attic for years, he sailed F15s many years ago!
It is a cotton jib, in remarkably good condition although a little crushed, as the picture show, from 1957 apparently.  Made by John Mackenzies & Co Sailmakers in Sandbank Scotland.  The piston hanks work.  It comes in a canvas? bag.  There is also a spinnaker bag from Ratsey but no sail.
This is really too good to throw out and I can’t bring myself to put it on ebay!
Does anyone have a good use for this – seems a shame to lose a bit F15 history?  Leave a message on the blog if you are interested.

A Classic Beauty……

2433 hens tooffDo you find your heart leaps when you see a beautifully finished wood deck flying fifteen??  Then you’d better sit down…..

The late Tim Tomlinson’s utterly beautiful FF 2433 is for sale….  I last saw this boat down at La Rochelle and it’s just stunning.  There is an advert for it over on the excellent BIFFA “For Sale” Section.

The boat is a fabulous mix of beautiful wood and magnificent carbon – and won time after time after time on the classic circuit.  Tim told me a couple of stories about finding the sandwich of the original hull being soggy, and simply grinding it all out and starting again. The fittings themselves are a work of art.

If I were not confined to crutches, I’d be over there with an offer straight away!!

The FF Balanced Rudder – News from Bill Shand….!

In 1961 0r 2 I launched my first ff 550 – fflalanger which is an aboriginal name for flying fox. Every article I read in yachting magazines referred to the really excessive weather helm. I had been sailing a 12 ft dinghy with a swing down rudder. I quickly found out what happened when it was not down completely- uncontrollable  & heavy helm. I knew that to fix the problem it needed some of the blade forward of the pivot point. This lead to shifting the shaft to the rear of the blade & angling the shaft forward at the top. I got it right the first time.

During our first ffi-v meeting at Sandringham YC one ff owner had put a vertical spade rudder on his ff & wanted to adopt it as our standard but I was able to argue that my solution was the way to go as we would stay within the ff rules as laid down in the UK at that time. I argued that we had to stay within these rules as one day we or you may travel to compete, this brought on a bit of laughter but has proved to be true.

In all the ff s that I have built the shaft angle has remained the same & is now used around the world.

I built one for John Calvert Jones who went to England & I believe that in the week between racing an English ff appeared on the 2nd week with a balanced rudder. John had a cold moulded ff built in Adelaide- only 3 ever built off this mould.

Bill Shand Australia

Tribute to Tim Tomlinson…….

Tim was a great friend and ambassador, both to his home club at middle nene and to the Classic Flying Fifteen fleet.  He has competed in many club opens and won most of the events he attended. He was extremely talented and tenacious about winning but was never aloof or big headed.

He was recently awarded a lifetime achiever award by the RYA:-

Having first learned to sail as a young teenager in Nene One Design at Middle Nene SC 1953, Tim had been a tireless ambassador for sailing at the club and in the region. Through his relentless personal commitment he ensured the club was managed and run effectively and helped encourage countless people to participate in the sport.

Always willing to pass on his extensive knowledge to others to prepare, repair or improve their boats to get them on the water enjoying and getting the best out of their sailing, Tim was always approachable. If you need advice or to get something repaired he was your man, if you broke it Tim could, would fix it.

Tim said: “I’ve enjoyed 60 years of an absorbing hobby through sailing, racing, boat design and building, repair and maintenance. I consider my biggest contribution to the sport to be the 47 years I’ve served on various Middle Nene SC committees, including 21 years as the Membership Secretary. I also served on Midland area and national committees of the National 12 class Dinghy Owner’s Association and as a class measurer.

“I regard sailing as a very complete sport. It is physical and mentally stimulating, with lasting lifetime social and friendship-making aspect. It is very nice to have my contribution recognised in this way.” 

We all miss a great sailor but a valued friend and hope the rest of the Flying Fifteen Fleet will be able to read this message.


Neil Bartholomey FF 2700


Classic and Silver Inland Championship at the Llangorse Open….!!

Flying Fifteen Open Meeting

Incorporating the Classic & Silver Inland Championship

Llangorse Sailing Club

18th & 19th May 2013


Written by David Hemmingway and Richard Taylor

A total of 21 boats with 9 visitors from as far away as Scotland, Humberside & Cornwall arrived at Llangorse Lake looking forward to the first event in the 2013 Southern Traveller Series. The mix of competitors was 4 Open, 6 Silvers & 11 Classics and the format of the racing was 2 Starts with Open & Silvers together followed by the Classics

The wind was 10 knots gusting 14 mainly from the West, which is from the direction of the Brecon Beacons ensuring an interesting mix of shifts and gusts.

The 1st race was a close contest with the silvers more than holding their own against the open boats. Local boat 3751(Taylors) led from the start to finish with some place changing behind by 3453 (Anderson & Farrant) and local 3691 (McCulloch & Goodall) Result 3751, 3453 & 3691.

A previous member of LSC,  (Travis) showed his local knowledge to say in front in silver 3006 followed by 3144 (Card) & 3288(Tatlow). 2880 had a bit of an incident when they found their leeward shroud had come unpinned! No damage, drop all the sails and take a pin from a spinny block – memories of 2 years ago when 2880 lost her mast!!

The Classic start was hotly contested but with the local boys 2663 (Morgan) & 2695 (Craddock) leading the way. For the 1st lap the Scottish visitors 516 (a Chippendale in superb condition) from Hellensburg held 3rd place but were unable to keep up the pace. Result was 2663,2695 & 2606 (Tait).

Race 2 followed a similar pattern in the Classics with 1 & 2 the same but with 2582(Fletcher) getting a good 3rd . The Silvers& Open decided it was time to get serious resulting in a general recall – The usual moans were then heard – “That was my best start”! The result in this race was the same culprits getting 1,2,3 but in slightly different order.

For Race 3 the wind eased with some big holes. These holes resulted in 2695 getting a 6th instead of its usual 2. In the Open Fleet 3453 got clean away and won by a considerable distance. Silver went tp 3144.

Overnight standing – Open & Silver too close to call with 3 boats having 1st ; Classics/ Morgan & Walden in the lead with three “bullets”.

The evening was spent in a new venue, The Black Cock. The Club originally booked in 21 for the meal but ended up with 31 we took over the pub!!

Sunday did not look good – Very little wind!

1st Race was the annual Simon Dangerfield Memorial Race. The race officer Robert Dangerfield (Simon’s cousin) did his very best to set the traditional Windward/Leward course but the wind had other ideas. This fickle wind initially put the hot shots to the back but halfway through the race 2663 & 2695 made a charge from the middle order right to the front with what seemed little or no wind. Trophy winners were David Morgan & Lorina Walden sailing 2663 which, by a very nostalgic coincidence, is the Classic that Simon Dangerfield campaign so successfully with Dave Hemingway as crew.

In the Open Fleet 3691 Richard McCulloch also came from behind to win. He told us afterwards that it was the very first trophy he had ever won!

The Silver trophy went to David & Lynne Travis 3001 the past members of LSC (Local knowledge is very useful!). In the Classics with four 1st  places 2663 did not need to sail the last race but stayed out to enjoy the very variable Llangorse wind.

The last race started in light airs with everyone staying very close to the start line. The 2 fleets soon merged into one with great close racing between all 21 boats, which meant approaching the windward mark on port was usually very costly!

The finish was moved to the windward mark by the Club House to get a long final beat, and by this time 3453 had again escaped and romped home. In the Classics 2663 finished off with a 1st to make it a clean sweep and 3144 took the silver honours. Just to show the Race Officer was still awake 2695 & 2606 were disqualified – they missed the gate on the beat!

At the prize giving in the Clubhouse the LSC Commodore expressed every ones thanks to Robert Dangerfield the Race Officer and all the travellers, especially those who had come a long distance.

Overall Result                                                              Simon Dangerfield Memorial 

Open Fleet                                                                                   Open Fleet                                                                      

3453 Bill Anderson & Sally Farrant                      3691 Richard MCulloch & Matthew Goodall

Classic & Silver Inland Championship

Silver Fleet                                                                                    Silver Fleet

3144 Peter Card & Katharina Turner                                    3001 David & Lynne Travis

Classic Fleet                                                                                 Classic Fleet

2663 David Morgan & Lorina Walden                          2663 David Morgan & Lorina Walden

Overall Placings

Llangorse FF Open Results

More on the Classic Rudder…..!!

This article shown a couple of days ago on the FF rudder is very true. I changed my original rudder (unbalanced) to a modern balanced one and it transformed the feel of the boat, being much lighter on the helm and giving much better feedback. A secondary benefit is that at high speed the old rudder could cavitate and stall out, leading to loss of control and a wipeout, which is ultimately what broke it. I have never had this problem with the new rudder, which is also thicker in section and has a much better profile than the old, thinner blade, so the water flow stays attached much longer.

In my case, the rudder was oredered through P&B and I sent details of the angle of the rudder post, length etc.The resulting made to measure unit fitted exactly and, as I say, works very well indeed.

Graham Lamond