Grafham Inlands – Full Report ….!!

2014 Flying Fifteen Inland Championships at Grafham Water Sailing Club

21st-22nd June

Written by Barry Wyatt

41 Flying Fifteens made the journey to Grafham Water SC for the inland championships over the weekend of 21st – 22nd June, despite the slightly poor forecast; visitors came from all over the UK including Scotland, the Lake District, South & East Coasts, The North East & The South West, to this great inland sailing venue.

On Saturday morning, the fleet was greeted by bright sunshine and a sparkling breeze from the north-west: unfortunately, this died on cue at mid-day never to return in any meaningful sense.. With the light winds, a breeze swinging through as much as 60-degrees and wind holes were everywhere this was going to be a tricky day. The weekend became a frustrating experience for the race team lead by Peter Saxton and the competitors alike. With light breezes Windward-leeward courses were clearly going to be the order of the day and it rapidly became clear that the plan to sail four races on Saturday was likely to prove over-ambitious; indeed through the afternoon the mark layers probably burned off more calories than the FF crews in their frantic attempts to keep up with the wind shifts!

On the start line, the fleet lived up to expectations, forcing several re-starts before the PRO lost patience, dug out the black flag and restored a semblance of order. The first successful start got away after a delay of around 30 minutes: the lead boats split, with some looking for breeze towards the centre of the lake and other trying their hand along the north shore. The left-hand contingent was looking good until confronted by one of those Grafham headers. In the end, there appeared to be little to choose between the two tactics when the leaders finally reached the windward mark. Meanwhile, the remainder of the fleet was strung out along the lake and, by the time the leaders were approaching the downwind gate, there were boats still beating into negligible wind.

The race was correctly abandoned and the fleet settled down to a long wait for more stable conditions, these arrived around 3:00 (two hours after the scheduled start). A two lap race was indicated and started with initial boats coming off the pin end and heading left looking quite good, however in the swinging breeze those coming up the mid to right of the beat made the most of the shifts to get up the short beat and around the windward mark. A light touch on the spinnaker was required for the first downwind leg but with the breeze holding the windward mark was shifted further up wind. The next beat saw the fleet split left and right but there were big gains to be found up the middle a few boats profited well from this. It was unfortunate but the wind dropped further which made the run a tense affair however at the leeward gate and subsequent finish the order was Goacher/Evans, McKee/Smith, Apthorp/Clark. The race team then waited patiently while the breeze swung between north and west, occasionally gusting to the dizzy heights of 4 knots: after the best part of an hour of this, the PRO displayed ‘N’ over ‘A’ and everyone headed gratefully for the clubhouse.

On Sunday, conditions were even less conducive to racing and the decision to call matters to a halt was relatively straightforward and taken sufficiently quickly to allow visitors to attend prize giving and to get on the road shortly after mid-day. As a result the championship was decided on the one race, as per association championship regulations. So the final order for the weekend was Steve Goacher & Phil Evans (Royal Windermere) Dave McKee & Maf Smith (Dovestone) were second and Charles Apthorp & Jonathan Clark (HISC) third. Prizes were awarded to the first six boats, together with the winner of the Classic Fleet (Neil Barthlomey & Emma Brown), 1st lady (Ros Coleman) and 1st GWSC boat (Simon Kneller & Dave Lucas). Download full results here.

It was generally recognised that, in the circumstances, the PRO did well to complete the one race: indeed, the race team was praised for their great efforts to get sailing under way, for their professionalism and for the good communication with the competitors. The facilities offered by the host club (not least its ease of access) were much appreciated, as were the social arrangements, including the Saturday evening barbecue.



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

UKGLOBAL National Rankings Hot Up at Grafham….!!

4 out of 5 for Lovering/ Alvarado


25 Flying 15s graced Grafham Water, including 16 visitors, representing 12 clubs from across the UK, including Royal Windermere; Chew Valley; Hayling Island; and Bewl Valley, to complete 6 races over the two days.

Across the weekend there were 5 different race winners, proving the quality and depth of the fleet, with only Steve Goacher taking two bullets. This meant it was all about consistency, with Lovering and Alvarado, regatta winners, counting five top two results.

These results have certainly changed the top of the leader board in the UKGlobal National Ranking list. But with four regatta wins from the first five events Lovering/ Alvarado hold on to the top spot, with Apthorp consolidating second postion, and Cadwallader moving up to third.So far this season we have seen 44 different teams compete in the five events.


Next weekend sees the first of the Scottish Traveller Series at Loch Tummel and the Royal Windermere Open, as the sailors build up to the Nationals at Weymouth in July and contend the Number 1 spot. Can anyone surpass current leaders Lovering/ Alvarado?

Open Circuit Really Takes Off……….!!

We have Grafham coming up this weekend, and then our season gets really under way. May 4th/5th sees two big events …..

The Scottish Travellers gets under way with the Loch Tummel Open – the Loch Tummel traveller is at Loch Tummel, near Pitlochry in the heart of sunny Perthshire!
More information at
We are sharing the event with the RS400 fleet, so it would be great to have a good turnout and show them what they are missing!!!

The same weekend we have the 50th Anniversary Event at the Royal Windermere – sailed in a piece of heaven!  Great event at a fabulous Club !