Aldeburgh Open !!! Fabulous Photos !!


6TH– 7THJuly 2019

Part of the Southern Travellers Series


For the first time since 2004 the F15 fleet at Aldeburgh Yacht Club hosted an open weekend on the tidal River Alde. Appropriately fifteen 15s took part.  Seven locals were delighted to be joined by eight visiting boats from Broxbourne, Bewl, Datchet, Grafham, Draycote and Ipswich (RORC).


On the Saturday afternoon, Race Officer Robert Mulcahy took advantage of the high tide to run 2 excellent windward/ leeward races upriver on the tidal flats at Blackheath.  Light and shifty conditions led to close and interesting racing.  In the first race Pip Hudson and Steve Stewart (3889) from Broxbourne mastered the conditions to win comfortably from local boat True Luff (3844) – Duncan Matthew and John Chalker – with a special mention to Jerry and Charlie Young who sailed their Silver Fleet boat Ffully Focussed (3139) into 4thplace on the water.


In the second race, following a delay to reposition marks as the wind shifted to the right, Grafham sailors Tim O’Brien and Colin Ferra in Ffoxy Lady (4042) put behind them their 13thplace from Race 1 to win, ahead of Datchet’s John Hanson and Helen Selden (3954), with the first two boats from race 1 coming third and fourth respectively.  The steady drizzle and dying wind put paid to any chances of a third race and the fleet followed the tide back downriver to the AYC clubhouse – for plentiful drinks and an informal dinner.


The following morning, with racing set to take place at low tide and in a north easterly wind, Robert took the start boat downriver to Blackstakes where the bend in the river allowed a decent windward/leeward course to be set for two further races.  A short start line dictated by the narrowness of the river led to general recalls in both races, whilst the change from an ebb to flood tide saw differing conditions in each race.  Pip Hudson and Steve Stewart showed the way again in the third race but were convincingly pipped into second place in the fourth race by John Hanson and Helen Seldon.


However, Pip and Steve had done enough to win the Ratcliff Trophy from John and Helen, with top local boat True Luff in third.


In the silver/classics section, the Flamingo Tankard was won by locals Jerry and Charlie Young in Ffully Focussed (3139) ahead of Broxbourne’s Brian Turner and Jackie Burns in Windcheetah (3031).


Thanks again to Race Officer Robert Mulcahy, ably assisted by Caroline Donsworth for the whole weekend, and a big shout out for the youngest sailor in the fleet,16-year-old Freddie Fulford, who said he “mostly enjoyed” sailing with his Dad.


For the full set of results see:


Next photo ©Robert Mulcahy

FF open meeting

FF open meeting

Has Your Boat Insurance Expired …??!!!

(If it has, I don’t want to race against you!!… Ed)

UPDATE FROM UKGLOBAL: According to our latest records there are still over 50 members who have not yet renewed their craft policy.

If this applies to you, then please note that your craft is currently uninsured.

It is important to note that If you are waiting until your first sailing event before you renew your policy then should your craft be damaged by fire or it causes damage to another craft or other Third Party property during a storm in the meantime for example then you will not be indemnified for the repairs or replacement as there is no policy in force.

Please do not rely on insuring your craft on this policy just for racing. We have seen many claims over the years that have nothing to do with racing (including a number of storm damage claims during the recent adverse weather conditions in February.)

I strongly recommend you contact Natalie or Jerry to renew your policy and ensure you are fully protected:

· Natalie Surridge on 01883 333 522 /; or
· Jerry Dungate on 01883 333 512 /;


BIFFA Membership League Table 2013……

Yes, it’s that time of year that we can take a look at Association Membership Numbers (UP Overall …!!) and get some sense of which Clubs are thriving.

This year top of the pile is Parkstone!!!!!  Take a look !!

BIFFA Membership by Club 2013 Sheet1

The second thing to notice is that the number of FFI recognised fleets has gone up from 18 to 20 since we ran the fleet census in 2011 ( to qualify for FFI recognition, your fleet will have at least six boats in the fleet and at least six of the owners are Association Members). Very encouraging !!

This was the Fleet table in 2012… Has your Fleet gone up or down?? Do you make the FFI status?? Less than half do…..

BIFFA Members 2012 by Club Sheet1

BIFFA Insurance Update…..!!

ukglobal_logoHave you wondered how our new Insurance Scheme is getting on??  I did, so I got an update from Dan Blake at UKGlobal.

The answer basically is “stormingly well”.  Before UKGlobal worked with Chris Waples to redesign the policy there were around 260 boats on the policy with about half of them being Association Members.  We are ‘in season’ now for insurance renewals (not everybody closes their year in February) and applications are still coming in.  There were 25 new owners on the policy by the end of February and there is a feeling that the total number may go above 300 – even 320 has been talked about. Pretty good, eh?  I must say I am extremely pleased with my new premium….

So what does this mean for our Association membership?  Well, for the last seven or eight years we have generally eroded away our membership at a rate of 20 a year. Hopefully when the books close we may not only see that we held the number for the year, but there may even be a growth of another 20 or so on top.  We’ll see…!!

Burnham – The Fleet is On Its Way …..!!

It’s official, the Burnham fleet is now growing, having taken some one out for a sail late last summer, that person was so struck by the beauty, speed and elegance of the ff that he has now just bought one.


And is now looking forward to the new date of the Burnham Open Meeting of April 13th/14th 2013



Datchetman’s Christmas Offer….

From a humble start (and false start) in January, the FF Blog has come along quite well.  Our fleet is modestly proud of the fact that our blog is looked at 5000-7000 times a month at the moment. Do you ever look at the weekly statistics which you can see here

Some time ago the blog was restructured and “dedatchetised” to a good degree. Now if you click to see the Datchet Fleet it is actually a separate website   The thing we like is that it all looks like a continuous website based around the blog – and hopefully aimed at the ordinary club sailors like us.

For the last 300 days, our club fleet description has been clicked on 330 times, our loan boat program for trial sail has been looked at 650 times, and by the way, the general Flying Fifteen description was clicked on 770 times. Interesting…

So from all that we guess that it is actually quite good publicity for our fleet and our club – especially as it’s free. We haven’t spent a penny on it. Heaven knows if it actually works….  Last year was good for attracting new boats (6) and this year we have attracted four new boats but around half a dozen new crews. Does the web work? We still don’t know!!

We did all the separation of our club pages with an eye to adding other FF Club Fleets to the blog at some time. Slightly to my amazement, nobody has ever asked. So our Christmas offer to you and your Club Fleet is that we shall do it for you.  We’ll do the website set up for your Club FF Fleet for you. Just a mirror image of but with your words and pictures – then we’ll teach you to take over yourself after that.  (It’s dead easy) Any takers?? First come, first served, winner gets it…!

What would you need to provide??

– do you simply want to follow the datchet design at first, or have a page structure of your own?

– a really good handful of photos to which you have the copyright holders permission for use.

– the text you want on each page about your club and your fleet

– any “links” you would like to make e.g. to your club race results page

That’s about it, I think. Oh yes, … we feel it makes sense to have some eligibility criteria. So we propose that we restrict the offer to fleets with FFI status – that is to say at least six boats and at least six of the fleet belong to BIFFA, our Association. Oh the other thing – if this is to help attract new members to your fleet, you ought to have some idea of how you are going to offer a “trial sail” program. Our loan boat program is used a lot and has been the most effective tool for clinching new members. But you have an answer to that, we’ll pop up the website for the first Club Fleet to ask, and then teach you how to run it and grow it for yourselves. Anyone want one?

Enjoy your Christmas – sailing tomorrow??!!

Can Online Publicity Help a Fleet Grow??….

This is really for Datchet Fleet Members whose Fleet AGM is on 27th, but anybody interested in promoting their Club Fleet might like to take a quick look….

Fleet Members – We have our Fleet AGM next Sunday. Have you let John Hanson know if you are having lunch with us all?

Last year, I accepted an action from the meeting to try online marketing and publicity of our fleet and especially our loan boat program – continuing the work started in September 2010. John Hanson and I have decided not to put it on the agenda this year, but merely give you an update here.

We had excellent results in 2010 of course, with 6 new teams, but in this 2011 year of recession we have had two new teams, but I reckon 5 or even 6 new crews. As I type we are waiting for another pair who have paid for a loan boat to turn up and sail it. By the way, as UK Fleets go at the moment, this is a pretty good result for us. Was it a result of, or helped by, the online publicity ?? Who knows??

So did our website get looked at??  We launched the Mk 3 version on January 2nd 2011, so that is about 320 days ago and I have some of the statistics here for your perusal….

  • Number of Page Views……. 48,000
  • Read in How Many Countries? ……….13, but about 85% of traffic is UK
  • How many people look at it per day?…  around 100-200 on average
  • What was the busiest month? … We had just over 7,200 views in October. It has steadily increased through 2011, but it will plateau and then probably fall quite soon.
  • Our ambition was to get on the front page of a google search for “Flying Fifteen”.  I have just checked (20/11/11) and it was ranked fourth on page 1 at the time – ahead of us were BIFFA, BIFFA’s For Sale Page, and FF International.

Can we tell from what people were looking at on the website if they might be interested in joining the fleet and especially trying a loan boat?? And what are they interested in anyway??  Well, we can tell a lot by the website pages they look at….

  • The most popular single page is the Flying Fifteen Description. In 320 days this was looked at 800 times.
  • Next most popular (hurrah!) is Mike Firth’s Trial Sail and Loan Boat Program – 690 views of this page were made – so nearly two per day on average…
  • Next most popular was our FF photo collection – 375 views (more than one per day)
  • Then the description of the Datchet Fleet at 330 views – very encouraging
  • Next came our Video collection – surprisingly popular at 307 … almost once per day.
  • Launching and Recovery at Datchet – 220 times (again, very encouraging – page has its own videos)
  • Ladies Viewpoint – 204 times. Again pretty encouraging if we want to increase the family friendly aspect of our fleet
  • Voodoo Tuning – 187 downloads
  • Crews Wanted/Available – 186 views
  • Keel refurbishment – 178 views
  • Buying Secondhand Guide – 174 times
  • “Contact Us” – 123 times

So we have a recessionary year – you wouldn’t want to be a boat builder I suggest…. Did it make any difference??  Well, who knows, but that is a lot of people looking at a lot of our stuff who otherwise would have had to get in the car and visit us to see what it’s like.  Do you get a delayed benefit – might some people look at us in 2011 and show up in 2012?? Maybe….

One last point – there are lots of resources you can click on within the website… What tools did you use most??

  1. Results Service – 600 times (thank you “Midnight Rog”!)
  2. Windguru at Datchet – 413 times
  3. The link to BIFFA – 250 times

If you are interested in statistics, or have a mind like Adrian Simpson (!), then you can see our weekly statistics here.

So I feel it is making a small and positive difference for our fleet – and we’re probably back on the map a little more than we were. The fleet was almost gone about 6 years ago before Mike Firth decided to sort out the mess. Now at 34 boats, there is no bigger fleet in UK – still more to do of course, much more. Mike is just amazing really.  For the “online publicity” task, I must be certifiable for accepting it, so thanks to all of you who have helped it along…!!

Would any readers in other fleets like help to do the same?


Starting a Falmouth Fleet…..

We’ve all heard by now the great success stories of starting FF Fleets as Classic, or Classic/Silver Fleets…..

As you may have read on the blog recently, the local members are going to try the same trick at Falmouth.  The Fleet Rules are going to be:-

– Sail numbers below 3000

– second hand sails only

– for local handicap racing a special Portsmouth Yardstick will apply

I can’t wait to see how they get on!! Dave came up to Datchet mid-October to pick up the first “new” Falmouth boat. He chose “Midnight Cocktail”, a very famous boat in its time. I think it’s 2948 – and is yet another early carbon boat if I recall correctly. It was built by Trenoweth, so it’s off to its spiritual home….

If you want to be put in touch with Dave Owens and the local team, let me know at

Club Support Package – Datchet Idea 9….

The Datchet Club also wants to make some suggestions about  helping Clubs with a topic we can loosely call “Fleet Management” – perhaps by creating a “Fleet Management Handbook” where all the best “recipes” and best-of-breed practices can be documented and held…

We all know how hard it can be to keep a healthy fleet growing and make it a great place to sail. So is there actually any sense of best practice based on the growing clubs?

Our idea here is to figure out what the magic sauce is (we have more than a few ideas!), get it documented and distribute it to all qualifying fleets.

Our ideas run along the following lines

– How to run a successful fleet

– How to run a Loan Boat Program

– Local Fleet Rule adaptations and how to secure them (eg no anchors)

– Family Regatta Guidance

Our next idea is that BIFFA needs to keep in closer touch with its largest fleets and do mainly some more dialoguing.  This could be simply a conference call or visit from the President/Vice-President/Officer – quite simply to increasingly get Club Fleet Issues on the Agenda.


UPDATE : With the help of both our Association President and Secretary, BIFFA already  has a conference call service signed up for the main use of talking with the Club Fleets. The trial call took place a few days ago and was a good success. Around 8 participants dialled in. The pilot topic for the call  turned into  great discussion on how Club Fleets could be represented better in the Association.  We’ll extend the pilot into a few more calls over the coming weeks and polish out technique….

By the way, one group of Fleets (Western Area) asked if they could also have a conference call sign-in so that they might easily have “Regional” discussions together.  Keith, our Association Secretary, has found the way to do that and they now have a call in number of their own. We await their feedback as to how useful they find it, how easy it was to use etc….

Club Support Package – Datchet Idea 2….

Our second idea for Training Support is specifically for Silver and Classic owners. Almost all the tuning material in the market generally applies to Mk IX and Mk X Ovingtons.  There’s no guidance really for older boats – Silvers and Classics… that is to say, half the National Fleet….

We would like to enable Club Leaders to run tuning workshops for Silver/Classic owners based upon Powerpoints and Speaker Notes carefully distributed by BIFFA to Club Fleets and owners who are Association Members.

I am told that Charles Apthorp and Pip Hudson may have accepted the challenge on this… maybe we’ll see something soon.

Regenerating Our Fleets….

When Mike Firth first set about regenerating the Datchet Flying Fifteen Fleet around 5 years ago, it had almost gone away. Now it’s jolly vibrant, and at 34 boats today one of the largest. Like many other fleets, we have our share of boats that seem unsailed, but the fleet is still pretty lively.

Mike recently pointed me at a page on the Draycote website, written by the person who regenerated their Fireball Fleet. Mike said was a great inspiration….

You can see it here

It’s a pretty good read actually… I’m going to have to get Firthie in a corner and write our own version of this for the UK FF Fleets…

The FF Census – What Does FFI Fleet Status Mean??…

You know, we recognise about 48 Club Fleets in UK. That’s a great base actually, and we could do a lot with it if we tried.

Have you all heard of “FFI Fleet Status”?? It’s pretty important in terms of keeping your “International” status round at at ISAF.  If we didn’t keep our number up, we would cease to be the “International Flying Fifteen” and our residual values would actually probably take a little tick downwards. There’s a hard earned cache to this lark of being an “International” Class, after all. I forget how it works exactly at ISAF, but you have to maintain a certain number of fleets in certain number of countries is basically the way it works. FFI makes regular returns to ISAF to keep our status.

So what do you need for your Club Fleet to attain or retain FFI Fleet Status?? The answer is simple – at least 6 Boat Owners who are also Members of the National Association.

Easy – Right??

Not so, it seems. If you compare the data from the FF Census, with BIFFA records for membership, this is what you get:-

(We have 48 fleets, remember..)

Number of Fleets with six or more boats………………………………. 35

Number of those Fleets with 6 or more  Association Members… 17

So we have only 17 Fleets that qualify for FFI Fleet Status?…  It’s not all bad news – that does mean that we can hit 35 with the stroke of a pen – or a few pens,… on a few application forms.

It makes you wonder though.  I realise that BIFFA has to figure out afresh it’s proposition to the Club Sailor (90% of the owners, remember), but I still think this position is not tenable in the long term. The upside is that we can fix it!!

I’d better publish the whole census data so you can see where we are on this….

Comments gratefully received on