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.

Our Datchet Heroes….!!

Flying 15 Worlds 2013(John and Helen – thankfully leading in this photo!)

All the Datchet readers of the FF Blog will have been keenly following John Hanson and Helen Hepworth through their adventure at the Hong Kong Worlds.  They’ve regularly managed to send us some great photos and snippets of news to liven up our two weeks of rain and gloom !

John and Helen at prizegivingHow did they get on?? Pretty stunning really – top half of the fleet and very consistent!! 23rd overall out of 52 entrants, best a 16th and their discard was a 27th.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013They had some trials and tribulations during the HK Nationals week when the shroud plates gave up and the rig was down for a day.  The boat, Hakuna Matata GBR 3539, was registered in late 1995.   It has some history and was built I think for the Jerwoods, 2nd in the Worlds this week.  At the Club we have watched John renovate the boat gradually over time, moving up the fleet as he did so.  Now we can’t catch him – very impressive!! One delight has been to see John and Helen very patiently using stern mounted video to help them develop technique and hone skill.  John told me it has been the single biggest contributor to their performance improvement.  They use the camera set at very wide angle so you can  see right up the leach plus observe what the team are doing… and importantly the horizon!!  I wonder if John can make some general training videos out of his footage for the new online training area on the BIFFA website.  Must ask him….

Flying 15 Worlds 2013So the boat is 18 years old, and still winning races, and can finish in the top half of the Worlds?!  What a tribute to the Ovington Mk IX product, don’t you think??  It’s a great example that you can get into top class FF racing for a very modest cash outlay – and the boat is going as fast probably as it ever has.  It has been sold now – the new owner is a new Datchet member, which is great news for us.  John and Helen will now be sailing a Mk X, and a lovely boat!!  We’d better get used to seeing the back of it!!

Flying 15 Worlds 2013

All images ©RHKYC/Guy Nowell

The Last Supper – And Prizegiving….!!

As I type, the final dinner and prize giving will be under way in Hong Kong.

HK Prizes photo

(Guess the Ladies’ Prize is that Guy Laroche photo!)




pipers in traditional chinese dress

(Pipers in traditional Chinese Costume pipe in the Noodles !!)




HK The last supper

(RHKYC Final Dinner)



HK Poolside recep and skyline

(My suggestion to Graham and Chris is stay well away from the Pool on this particular evening …. – and let someone else carry your wallet and passport all night, in a waterproof bag… but it’s probably too late by now!!)

Hong Kong – Final Report….!!

(We’ll add the photo later… busy day!)

With first place already decided, 50 boats turned up at the start line for the seventh and final race of the Worlds. It’s no exaggeration to say that the weather and sea state has been different on every day of this regatta and today was just perfect – sunny, 15kts, a light swell …

Race management was not in for an easy day though, with two ships anchored on the preferred layline. Having moved closer inshore to allow adequate leg length without encroaching into China waters, the line was laid for an axis slightly to the right of the wind, to balance the course against the ‘left at Lamma’ effect.

Everything was going to plan until two minutes into the start sequence, when the AP had to be raised to allow for a commercial ship crossing the course on the port layline.

Just as thoughts were turning to getting into the start sequence again, a tanker anchored just upwind of the start line, forcing the team to up sticks

and move back further offshore and reset the course.

Finally, 50 minutes behind schedule, the start gun was fired for the last race of the 19th International Flying Fifteen World Championships and the fleet was away with a clean start. Nick and Janet Jerwood, already assured of second overall for Ineffable, were out for glory and led from the front to take their second first of the series, finishing on a nett 15 points two minutes ahead of Matthew Owen and Andrew Reed on The Wife’s Ffault – their best placing of the series. El Toro was only seconds behind in third, cementing third place overall for the Australian duo of Grant Alderson and Dean McAullay.

The Jerwoods seemed happy with their overall performance and unperturbed by the changeable weather, with Nick saying “conditions are probably the best I’ve ever sailed in at a (Worlds) regatta”.

Full results with elapsed times can be seen at

19th International Flying Fifteen World Championship – Day 6 RHKYC / Guy Nowell

Total Nett 64 11 21 15 77 24 33 26 46 31 86 33 45 34 58 42 80 57 76 62

Top Ten Placings

Rank Sail No. Bow 1st GBR 4004 1 2nd AUS 3986 50 3rd AUS 3933 46 4th GBR 4021 13 5th AUS 3684 40 6th GBR 3920 7th GBR 3998 10 8th GBR 4019 11 9th AUS 3992 52 10th AUS 3982 49

Tracking of a selection of the top performing boats can be viewed at

The overall prizegiving will be held poolside at RHKYC Kellett Island on Friday 8th November.


Graham Vials and Chris Turner Win with a Race to Spare

Flying 15 Worlds 2013The 19th International Flying Fifteen Worlds has thrown every conceivable weather combination at competitors, and today it was time to try some light air sailing. The T flag was displayed on shore, indicating that all competitors would be towed across the Lamma TSS and RO Jerry Rollin was happy to raise the AP at the start line in order to ensure that everyone had time to prepare.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013That also gave him time to reconsider the start line position, which was pushing the windward mark right out to the limit of Hong Kong waters, by retreating 200m further downwind.

Early indications were that a 1.15nm beat would be ample to give the sailors a race of around two hours, however the wind was gradually shifting round to the east, requiring the pin boat to be re-anchored and by the time the start gun was fired, although the fleet got a clean start, Rollin noted the dying breeze, coupled with another wind shift and raised the N flag to abandon the race and bring everyone back to the start area.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013The pin boat was once again relocated, and with the breeze filling in to 5kts, the RO tried to get race 6 underway again, however just before the start gun, another AP #2 was displayed, as race management waited for a wind shift to settle. The AP was removed, only to be re-hoisted 4 minutes later and the pin boat anchor was lifted once again with all boats standing by waiting for the new breeze to fill in.

Fill in it did, 50 degrees further east than when the first attempt at a start was made, Flying 15 Worlds 2013however this time the forecast replenishment of the northeast monsoon held steady at 8 to 10 knots and the RO was able to reset the line to his satisfaction. Perhaps impatient to get sailing after sitting around for so long, the bulk of the fleet was over early, earning a general recall and a black flag re-start. This time, everyone got it right, including the breeze, and the fleet were all clear nearly two hours later than scheduled.

Cosmas Grelon got a flyer of a start for Hong Kong on Noisy Forefather, reaching the windward mark first, ahead of Pharos Financial Group and the rest of the fleet before a local fishing vessel managed to hook the mark. With the mark returned to its rightful owners, the mark layers had 45 seconds to get it into place before the fleet rounded the leeward gate.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013By the time they did, Graham Vials had taken up the head of the fleet, ahead of Greg Wells on Betty and Ashley Smith on PHAROS Financial Group and the Jerwoods on Ineffable and with the wind holding steady, Foof crossed the finish line in first place – their fourth of the regatta – to secure their defence of their World Title with a race in hand.

On the dock afterwards, Vials said “it was surprisingly good racing – I was a bit concerned that with the lighter breeze we might get caught by a wind shift, but it all went to plan. We’re looking forward to the curry buffet tonight, and a day off tomorrow!”

Flying 15 Worlds 2013Ineffable maintains their position in second place, six points ahead of Steve Goacher and Phil Evans on 4021. El Toro has dropped to fourth overall after a disappointing 9th today, with Betty in fifth on equal points with Alan Bax and Chris Hewkin on 3998.

Top Hong Kong boat is Noisy Forefather with Cosmas Grelon and Rory Godman in 17th overall, with Ffact or Ffiction in 21st and Uffa Fox Ache in 24th.

Full results with elapsed times can be seen by clicking here

Tracking of a selection of the top performing boats can be viewed by clicking here

tacktracker logo

The final day of the 19th International Flying Fifteen World Championship is tomorrow, Thursday 7th November and is scheduled to feature one race starting at 1205hrs, with a target finish time of 120 minutes. The overall prizegiving will be held poolside at RHKYC Kellett Island on Friday 8th November.

Vials and Bax at the wing mark

Images: ©RHKYC/ Guy Nowell

HK Race 6 – Vials and Turner Pop Another One In….!!

Texts from the Committee Boat:-

Flying Fifteen Worlds – tried to start at 1220hrs but wind not great, about 3kts and still tracking right. N flag displayed and pin end maneuvering again to adjust the line, which won’t help the wind!

Flying Fifteen Worlds – Race 6 finally got underway at 1400hrs after 4 APs, an abandonment AND a general recall. Fortunately the Flying Fifteens are a patient bunch and the black flagged restart was all clear. At the first windward rounding 3722 was leading 3972, 4004, 3920, 3953 and 3986.

Flying Fifteen Worlds – Graham Vials back in the lead on 4004 ahead of 3920, 3986, 3972, 4021 and 3982. Second time at the leeward mark.

Flying Fifteen Worlds – the fleet has just rounded the windward mark for the last time with Foof a few boat lenghts ahead of Ineffable. Betty a little further back and PHAROS Financial Group in fourth. Fifth is three time champion Steve Goacher and sixth Storyteller with Christopher Paterson and Rupert Leslie

See the results by clicking here

Full Report later.

Worlds Race 5 – Full Report

Vials and Bax at the wing markHaving pushed racing to the point where he was the maximum permissible one race ahead, the Worlds RO, Jerry Rollin, was able to relax a little today with the requirement for one race, in a target time of 120 minutes.

Big wavesAfter yesterday’s grizzly conditions, ‘overcast grey’ seemed like a distinct improvement, accompanied by 15 to 20kts of appreciably cooler north easterly breeze and the odd patch of blue sky.

Race management may have felt slightly redundant today, as the fleet posted an ‘all clear’ start at the first time of asking, with El Toro setting the early pace, reaching the windward mark in just over 20 minutes, ahead of Steve Goacher, The Wife’s Ffault and Foof.

boat 48 on the crest of a waveAn 11 minute downwind leg saw Foof sneak into third, with Alan Bax taking up fifth position, but 20 minutes later, the Ineffable’s rounded in fifth place, holding Betty in sixth.

Given the longer target time, the pin boat weighed anchor and motored to the windward end of the course to lay a finish line, allowing the team to view some of the man overboard and emergency rigging procedures practiced by the ‘Fifteens, including one crew going up the mast after the main halyard – no mean feat in the washing machine conditions of the Lamma patch.

With the sun breaking through, the breeze started to lighten and five minutes inside the target time El Toro coasted home at the top of the finish board, a mere 16 seconds ahead of Goacher, with Matthew Owen / Andrew Reed a minute behind. Betty and Foof had a fierce battle to the finish, with Betty making fourth by the narrowest of margins, relegating Graham Vials to an unaccustomed (but discardable) fifth.

Nick and Janet Jerwood have shown remarkable consistency in both the Nationals and the Worlds and posted a sixth today, however after five races, with El Toro able to discard their BFD score, the overall standing show Vials in first on 5 points, ahead of El Toro and Ineffable on 12 apiece. With two races remaining, the 19th International Flying Fifteen World Championship is still anyone’s for the taking.

Top Hong Kong boat is currently Noisy Forefather, helmed by Cosmas Grelon, in 18th overall with Ffact or Ffiction in 21st and Uffa Fox Ache in 24th.

Full results with elapsed times can be seen by clicking here

Tracking of a selection of the top performing boats can be viewed on tack tracker by clicking here

tacktracker logoThe 19th International Flying Fifteen World Championship will continue tomorrow, Wednesday 6th November and is scheduled to feature one race starting at 1205hrs, with a target finish time of 120 minutes.

All images ©RHKYC/Guy Nowell

Alan on the run


great 3 sail reaching


boat 49 two sail reach


boat 40 on a beat

Hong Kong Race 5 – First Discards….!!

Flying 15 Worlds 2013They have 16kn of breeze today and a bit of a swell.  To complete 7 races by thursday, which I think is the target, they can drop now to one race per day.  At race 5 the results show the effect of discards. Very interesting it is too – Graham Vials and Chris Turner have a very handy lead.  The results for race 5 and the series are posted online now.

You can see them by clicking here.

HK Worlds – Day Three….!!

Flying 15 Worlds 2013Having lost Day 2 to typhoon Krosa, the race management team was on station early today, with a target of two races in order to get back on track for a Thursday finish. Krosa left a confused sea and some dreach weather in its wake, with a shifty 10 to 14kt breeze which tracked from 040 to 070 degrees in the space of 20 minutes.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013Having set the line in his customary spot, Race Officer Jerry Rollin was forced to move it forward as a ship was anchored on the port lay line, however both committee boat and pin end managed to reset before the scheduled display of the attention signal at 1155hrs.

The first attempt at a start featured a mass of ‘Fifteens going OCS, resulting in a black flag restart. This time all boats were clear and El Toro charged into the lead, ahead of Ineffable and Steve Goacher, with Graham Vials rounding the windward mark in fourth place.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013Talking after the race, Vials noted that “conditions were tricky – there was a big swell with a bit of time and a shifty breeze” but that didn’t prevent him drawing up to the front by the leeward mark rounding to set up a private battle with the Jerwoods, which was settled in HK Holed Fifteenfavour of Ineffable. Meanwhile Always Fforever was holed in a port/ starboard with Aussie Falcon, forcing her to retire from the day’s racing. RHKYC boatyard staff are hard at work trying to repair the damage in time for tomorrow’s racing.

With the wind tracking round another 20 degrees, the line was set again for Race 4, withFlying 15 Worlds 2013 Rollin looking to get one race ahead of the schedule and take the pressure off for the remaining three days of racing.

Unhappy with the line, the RO AP’d just before the start and after moving for the pin end, restarted the sequence. Once again the fleet struggled with the combination of tide and swell and once again a general recall was signalled.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013After an increase in line length, another attempt at a start with the black flag displayed at the preparation signal – a clutch of boats was again over towards the centre of the line with two being identified and scored BFD. The lucky ones made it to the next restart, but it was a case of déjà vu, yet another general recall and five more boats scored BFD. Finally, at the fourth time of asking, the depleted fleet made a clean start, with Hong Kong-ers Cosmas Grelon and Rory Godman making it to the windward mark in first place.

Flying 15 Worlds 2013By the leeward mark, Foof had taken up its customary position at the front of the fleet, closely followed by Steve Goacher, with Noisy Forefather in third. On the same leg, My Fair Lady was holed in a port/ starboard with the appropriately named Kerfuffle, but chose to carry on racing with a sizeable hole in her hull – surprisingly, she managed to finish ahead of three other boats scoring 39 in the process.

The series is shaping up to be a keen contest between Vials, Jerwood, Goacher and AlanFlying 15 Worlds 2013 Bax, with Vials sitting pretty on a 7 point cushion after scoring a 2-1 today. The Jerwoods are on 12 after a 1-2 and Goacher is on 20. Top Hong Kong competitor is Simon Pickering in 15th on Ffact or Ffiction, with 18 year old Cosmas Grelon just one point behind in 16th.

FFull results with elapsed times can be seen by clicking here 

Tracking of a selection of the top performing boats can be viewed on tack tracker by clicking here 

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©Images: RHKYC/ Guy Nowell

Hong Kong Worlds – Two Races Planned Today ……!!

HK Launching from elevationFlying Fifteen Worlds – back to racing today – 12 to 13 knots, 030 degrees and sea states not as rough as Saturday.  Two races are planned.

Click here for latest results

Flying 15 World Championships 2013As at 0730GMT, results for race three are posted. The Jerwoods took the gun, with Vials and Turner second!!  Very sad news – the Irish team (shown as DNC) are out due to ligament injury.

(Irish Team surfing a wave on Saturday – ©RHKYC/Guy Nowell)

Hong Kong Worlds – Day One Report…..!!

Flying 15 World Championships 2013With typhoon Krosa meandering east to west below the coast of China and threatening to disrupt the sailing programme for the worlds, Race Officer Jerry Rollin wasted no time today in informing competitors that his intention was to try and fit in two races if at all possible, as an insurance against the possible postponement of tomorrow’s racing in the event of a T3 being raised.

Flying 15 World Championships 2013The Nationals were designed to acclimatise overseas sailors to Lamma conditions, however after four days of racing with a pleasant easterly and barely any swell, today’s conditions reflected the imminent typhoon giving a NNE breeze and a 3m swell which set a completely different test for sailors and boats.

Having learned lessons from the Nationals, the 51-strong fleet was circumspect at the start of Race 1 and no recalls were required. A sign of a well laid course is whether the boats split evenly up the left and right Flying 15 World Championships 2013and, in spite of the Hong Kong mantra ‘go left at Lamma’ the fleet was pretty much split 50/50 for the first leg, El Toro taking 15 minutes to round, ahead of Foof and Aussie Falcon. At the end of the first spinnaker run, Steve Goacher had moved up into third behind Alderson and Vials ahead of a procession of ‘Fifteens and these places stayed static for another lap until Foof moved into the lead with Nick and Janet Jerwood moving up into fourth.

The conditions took their toll with one dismasting, one broken spinnaker pole, one broken vang and a MOB resulting in only 46 boats making the start line for race 2.

Flying 15 World Championships 2013With conditions picking up, together with four damaged boats, Vamoose decided to call it a day in order to preserve the 50 year-old timber classic for the remainder of the regatta. Rollins looked at the deteriorating conditions and gave the remaining fleet a quick restart in 22kts gusting to 25 – once again, they recorded a clean start and racing was underway.

Flying 15 World Championships 2013This time it was David Lavery on who took the early lead to the top mark, followed by El Toro and Foof. Lavery maintained his advantage on the downwind leg, only to be passed by El Toro and Foof at the next windward mark.

By the end of the second lap, Foof led through the gate with El Toro and in her wake, with Alan Bax and the Jerwoods battling it out behind with the final results showing Bax finishing fourth, 20 seconds ahead of Ineffable.

Flying 15 World Championships 2013The gap between the top ten boats is averaging 3 minutes over a 75 minute race, so this is shaping up to be an extremely competitive series, with Graham Vials starting a perfect defence of his title.

Full results with elapsed times can be seen by clicking here.

Tracking of a selection of the top performing boats can be viewed by clicking here

tacktracker logo

All photos ©Image: RHKYC/ Guy Nowell

Typhoon permitting, the 19th International Flying Fifteen World Championship will continue tomorrow, Sunday 3 November.