The Datchet Winter Season…. !!

I have at last managed to upload the Notices of Race for the MidWinter Champs (FF Midwinter 2016 NoR) and the Mercedes Trophy (Mercedes Trophy 2016 NoR) to the new Datchet Water SC website.

This year we have decided to make the competition for the Winter Champs the four February Sundays of the DWSC Winter Warm Up to avoid the impact of one day’s bad weather – which seems to have plagued us in recent years. Hopefully this works for more people than it doesn’t! The SI’s for this will be the same as those for the Winter Warm Up which will be published in due course.

The Mercedes Trophy is back to its normal slot of the weekend after the Dinghy Show (12th and 13th March) – timed to give you all the chance to have a bit of a thrash on flat water before the Inland Champs. The Sailing Instructions for the Mercedes are also available online (Mercedes Trophy 2016 SI’s).

There is a £130 package for anyone wanting to sail at the club for Q1’16 which gives free entry to the MidWinter Championship, discounted members’ entry to the Mercedes Trophy Open Meeting and boat parking/ club sailing for the whole of Q1

Hopefully we’ll see lots of you at these events

Have a very happy Christmas and a (not too) merry New Year in the meantime

(07768 921576)

UKFFA Members Vote….!!

If you have just received your 2015 members pack from FFA you will see that we have a members vote this year.

The vote is basically to do away with restrictions that prevent us buying more than one suit of sails per year, excepting for new boat purchase and Worlds….

This ought get your interest!!

– What do you think the impact would be on various parts of the fleet?

– What impact for Club sailors?

– What do you think it will do to the market for new and used sails?  Good or bad?

– What will be the effect on potential newcomers to the Class?

– Is it all good news for the sailmakers?

If you haven’t yet filled in your voting form, don’t forget to do so.  Scan your forms to the Association Secretary if you can’t get to a post box.  If you are not an Association member, this vote might be one worth joining for!!

Keep your eyes peeled for announcements at the Association website.

Leave replies to this blog to share your opinions. Just hit “Reply”…..




FF World Magazine….!!

RJON 140515 FF Worlds cover FF Worlds Cover Photo


Those of you amongst you who are Association members will have received and read the new “FF World” magazine.  Fantastic, isn’t it??!!

If you’re not a member, you’re missing a real treat.  For me, the central feature based on an interview with our very own World Champion, Chris Turner, was sensational value.

The work to pull all this together was done by Crispin Reed-Wilson and he has exceeded everything we asked of him.  Look out for the next issue which Crispin already has in mind!!

Membership News Letter from BIFFA….!!

A couple of days ago, on the 27th in fact, paid up Members of the Association will have received the latest Secretary’s Newsletter into their mailbox.  It contains all the inside track information on upcoming events – plus a timely reminder to us all to pay our subs on time on April 1st.  Most people will pay by standing order, but do hurry as the Yearbook and the forthcoming FF Magazine will be waiting to come out  !!

Association Membership : Fleet Size……..!!!

A few days ago we wrote about the league table of Clubs for BIFFA Membership.  I’ve taken a few minutes to add the census survey data as it stood 18 months ago in summer 2011.

Of course, the club fleet sizes flex quite a bit  in the course of 18 months. In our case, it certainly has and we have a slight reduction in boat numbers – thankfully mainly in the unraced stock of boats – but that inflates the apparent number of non-Association Members in that scenario. Also you have to recognise and adjust for people who have two (or more!) boats, and also where the Club itself may own some boats for training, trial sailing etc.

The next thing that can really distort this is “Honourary Members” and the like – it has a significant effect on Royal Windermere for example, as it’s like Mount Olympus up there – inhabited by Gods…. There are four categories of member which may distort the overall numbers – Associate, Honorary, Joint Owners and ‘non-boat owning’, but the instances are really quite limited in number.

So bearing all that in mind, take a look at this fleet table – sorted in size order for those fleets where FF owners choose not to belong to the Association are ranked at the top of the table….. Sorry – being a bit playfully mischievous here (!!), best treat it as an approximate guide for the reasons above!!!

Click here

Encouraging BIFFA Membership….

A short while ago we wrote about the challenges of enforcing any Club rule, ISAF rule or anything else that FF owners should be members of the Class Association. We wrote about needing to be a member to race in Open Meetings. We wrote about the idea of mast stickers too, for example.

What else could we do though at Club level??  In fact, I don’t think it would be acceptable that we make too much of a fuss about non-members of the association racing with the fleet – we just wouldn’t do it….   But how about

– you can’t win a  Club Trophy if you are not an Association Member

– in our case, although the Club scores all finishers into Sailwave, we have a Fleet Executive (Midnight Rog) score each club series manually. We do that so that those attending FF Open Meetings get average points awarded at home during absence. We also iron out the errors (!).  It is from this rescoring that Series Trophies are awarded.  Anyway…  we could decide that you have to be a  Association member (wearing your BIFFA mast sticker!) to be included in the manual rescoring…..  we could… we have a club rule that FFs can leave anchors at home, so why would’t we have a club rule that you have to belong to your association in order to be included in Club Series scoring??  That means those who choose not to belong to their Association get all the fun in each race, you get included in the race score, but not the series score….

Seems OK to me, actually – what do you do in your Club??


Gentle Pressure for Association Membership….Mast Stickers….

A few days ago we wrote about the Datchet Fleet concern about falling Association membership of BIFFA.

Apparently when our Class Secretary went after the subject a couple of years ago with racing certificates, he was asked not to be so aggressive!!!!  I must admit that in 20 years at our fleet, and two stints as Fleet Captain, I’ve never known who is in the Association and who is not.  It certainly would seem a bit aggressive to badger people to join year after year, if that were not the mood of the fleet.

So what else to do??  The idea that came  up in our bar is that BIFFA goes for dated mast stickers. There are plenty of associations that do… It is a gentle way for people to show (hopefully proudly) that they are paid up members of their Association.  By subtraction then the Fleet Captain can easily see who is not. So when we have Open Meetings, we can all easily see that entrants are paid up members, or defaulters….

Just a gentle way to apply some social pressure….

Association Membership….

At our Fleet AGM in November, we had some discussion around the National Fleet Captain’s Meeting the weekend earlier. This had been sensibly arranged as a conference call and, as usual, there was some pretty interesting stuff going on.

The item that caused great debate at our Fleet AGM was the data given on BIFFA membership numbers.  Remember that some lucky people own more than one boat – a Classic plus an Open Fleet boat for example.  But the number of boats in the Association as offered by the secretary in November was

  • 237 Open owners
  • 83 Silver owners
  • 75 classics

I think we were a bit surprised.  Even more surprising was the fact that the average decline in boat owning members over the last seven years has averaged 20 per year. Sometime a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Which ever way you look at it, we’ve all let this slide too far.

If the Association loses our collective grip, eventually the Class Rule will get fuzzy – and residuals will start to slide.

I don’t know how many Association members we have in our fleet. I think around 18 or 19  – but that will include one or two non-owning or joint owning members. So probably all our regular racers are members… I think.

It alarmed us enough that we handed round BIFFA application forms after the meeting.  I don’t think it will make much difference, as we were preaching to the converted.  It is so easy to let this slide away over the years, but it looks very hard to get 140 members back again starting from here.

What do you think at your Club??

Silvers and Classics – A Fair Crack of the Whip?….

I was just reading the blog and want to add my thoughts to your question regarding Classics and Silvers.

I own one of each and my opinion is that we are treated as the poor relation and this shows in that any reports and photographs of the Silvers and Classics are tagged on the end almost as an after thought, a token gesture if you will. It’s about time we had the same support and coverage as the open fleet ,after all we make up a large proportion of the fleet and we pay our fees the same as anyone else. It goes to show when they are wanting separate venues for competitions such as the nationals etc which is disgraceful!

To me it is all geared around the new boats and the top flight people instead of the class as a whole. We get little in return for our membership fees (a half hearted email newsletter instead of the good old printed version with some decent content) So unless you are travelling to all these events what are we actually getting in return for your money? Not everyone can travel to all these events especially with the price of  fuel as it is (it would be cheaper to fill my tank with 12 year old single malt) so what is BIFFA doing for the club sailor?

Jordan Aspin

BIFFA Owners Database … And the Fleet League Table!!!…..

This is the third item we have written based on the BIFFA members database, which is accessible to all Fifteeners who have paid their fees!!  And the vote on the new rig is coming up, so if you miss your chance in that you’ll be spitting mad…. probably double spitting if you’re a classic/silver owner – so get signed up!!

I need a new name for the database though – it isn’t the case that it is a list of current members. So it is really somewhat more akin to an “Owners Database”…

In Years gone by, the FF Year Book used to rank the number of boats(members actually) per Fleet across the country. I think the data showed current year and previous year so you could see the trends. I don’t know about you, but I used to study that avidly. We don’t seem to publish it now, even online. Pity… As a competitive natured Fleet Captain you do tend to react to public data which shows you where you rank in the world race!!

Back to the owners database…. if you click on the column Header for “Club”, the whole thing will be ranked by Club Fleet.

I think I have counted elsewhere on the BIFFA website, that there are 48 recognised FF Clubs. We also know too that about 32 of them are big enough or active enough to run an Open Meeting – you can work that out from the BIFFA calendar. Well, I have been through the Owners list – and if you count all the fleets with three or more boat owner/members there are 42 Clubs.  We should remember that according to FFI a Club will get “Fleet Status” if it has six boats whose owners are members of the National Association – on that basis we would have around 25 Fleets approximately.

It’s only an indicator as to what is going on. Given the 500 names that are on here, I feel there must be 400-500 names who are not. There surely must be somewhere between 500 and 1,000 FF’s still sailing in the UK…  Hayling and Windermere, for various reasons have a very high %age of their owners in BIFFA and the rest of us should take note.  But as a rule of thumb, maybe you can take the numbers of members that I list below, and then double it for the number of boats in the Club… So if I say they have 3 BIFFA members, there may actually be around half a dozen flying fifteens there.  Here we go… your table of Fleet Sizes…

Big Fleets :-

30 members – Hayling and Windermere (Hurrah!)

24 members – Bewl

23 members – Grafham and Parkstone

Medium Size Fleets:-

Derwent (17), Llangorse (16), Dovestone (15), Datchet (14), Draycote (12), Chew (12), Burton (11), Carsington (10)

Small Fleets :-

RMYC Poole (9), but together with Parkstone would make this a big FF Community

Northampton (9),  Middle Nene (8), Broxbourne (8), Cardiff Bay (8),  Loch Lomond (8), Solent (8), Bassenthwaite (7), Rutland (7), Clywedog (6), South Windermere (6), Loch Earn (6)

Really Quite Small but Enthusiastic Fleets:-

Holy Loch (5),  Loch Ard (5), Loch Tummel (5), South Cerney (5), Solway (5), Queen Mary (5) , Bala (4), Hartlepool (4), Humber (4), Lerwick (4), Llyn Brenig (3), Notts County (3), Ogston (3),  Royal Corinthian 3 (Waples Land – Hurrah!), Torbay (3), Ullswater (3), Llyn Brenig (3), Aldeburgh (2)

So that’s it !! The FF Blog’s Four Leagues of Flying Fifteen Fleets sailing in UK. I’d hazard a guess that just by letting the Fleet Captain’s know where their Fleet stands in the rankings will empower them to go out and find the unjoined owners – and get them signed up before the vote on the New Rig comes out of FFI  !! We’d expect that many Fleets will feel under-represented in this league table. The number of boats in your boat park will feel a lot larger in many cases. So get signed up!!

And how does our Fleet at Datchet fair??  I would guess we are a good average to work from.  We have 14 showing on here. We have three boats in our loan boat program, and a couple of members I think own two boats (lovable lunatics..!), so that’s maybe 20. Last time I counted there were about 30 boats parked in FF row. So FC, we have about ten boats not joined to BIFFA… who are they and why not?!!

The BIFFA Members Database – Finding Two !…

A few days ago, we wrote about what you see when you get access to the BIFFA members database….

Do you remember that we wrote if you click on a column header like “Sail Number” the list is immediately sorted on that field?  Well, if you make exactly that click, one thing should hit you straight away. See how far you have to page down before you reach the 3400 boundary between the Silver and Open Fleets….

What proportion of the BIFFA membership would you think have Classic and Silver Category boats??  25% maybe??  Well, the answer is surprising for me – it’s about a quarter of the way down page 5 – and there’s fifty entries per page…..

So that’s about 40% of BIFFA Members who are Classic and Silver Members…. Interesting.

I wonder if Classic and Silver owners feel they get 40% of BIFFA’s support and attention???  These members are probably normal Club Racing Members in the Main – not Open Meeting Travellers.  It’s a good question to ask – and another  good question to ask is , “Well, what would you want?”

Please send your thoughts to….

BIFFA Members !!! What do we know about us?…..

Have you tried the “Members Only” area of the BIFFA website?? You just ask the Secretary for an access code and, if you’ve paid your subs (!), you can get straight in….

It contains minutes of past AGMs and FC meetings, but most interestingly it contains the member database. Take a look… it’s pretty intriguing…. I thought it was just about finding addresses of fellow members, useful in itself, but no. The most intriguing feature, which I discovered by accident, is that you can click on any column header and it sorts the database for you. So you can see it in boat number sequence, Club Sequence or whatever.

The first thing is to understand what it is you will be looking at.  I don’t think it is the same thing as a members database. We heard from the President at the AGM that we had 360 paid up members or so at the end of 2010.  There are about 475 people named in the database. So it’s more like, “These You have Loved….”

So the first thing it tells you straight away then is that around a quarter of the people who have been members have declined for some reason to renew their membership since the database was loaded.  Actually, I am surprised and alarmed by that….

You can see that some small number of people on the list have no boat showing against their name – the Associate Members….

The first amazing thing – well, to me anyway ….So how many Flying Fifteens  are on there as ‘known’ boats???  The answer??  When I looked it was….  493….

493 – are you surprised? Were you expecting higher or lower??  I think I was expecting higher…  If you look at the FF stats on ISAF, you’d quickly form a rule of thumb that GBR is roughly half the worldwide fleet…..  So over the years, there ought have been about 2000 UK Flying Fifteens.  Where are they? How many are left?  How many have rotted and moved on??  Lets suppose half of them, 1000, have passed away. That’s a lot of lead keels somewhere…. or melted down!  If we are left with 1000, and we know roughly where 500 are … where are the other 500??  If they still exist, why don’t the owners connect with BIFFA??? We have hundreds of FFs to track down…

You probably have views about the FFs at your Club. Let me know what you think – either leave a comment or email us at

We have quite a few other surprise findings from the ‘members register’.  More on this in a day or two…

BIFFA Accounts 2010… Time for a Think on What “Membership” Means ?….

We just saw the BIFFA accounts for 2010. They’re in a pretty good state with £3,000 being added to the Net Assets which now stand at £21,000 .

There’s a fair bit of volatility year to year, but on the income side the main drivers are membership fees, FF “For Sale” Notices and Insurance Income – FFI costs and income coming out as a wash. To get the proportions of this in the right perspective, you have to see Fleet Insurance as 17% of the income – or 17% discount on your membership! By the way, the “For Sale” income is a tidy little £400 too.

So as you’d expect, the big deal is the Subscription Income – standing at £14,000 in 2010 it is down quite a lot over 2009, which amounted then to £15,250. So a 9% drop in a year…. My little calculator suggests that 2010 membership would have been around 360 members and 60ish Associate Members.

We claim to have 32 really active fleets, don’t we?? So an average of 11 members per fleet? I wonder what our average boats per fleet number is?  How about 22 as a first guess…??  So the best we might expect would be for BIFFA to double its number of members.

The usual gripe at FC Meetings, and AGMs goes along the lines of, “What did the Romans Ever do for Us?” – and just what BIFFA offers the ordinary Club Member is not thought of highly enough. I wonder if people know that a third of fee income (£5k+) goes on advertising and the BIFFA website. That seems a pretty reasonable contribution to the residual value of your boat for a start. If we had no Class Association our second hand values would tumble far quicker than they do.

What is the difference between Associate and Full Memberships? Is it just voting rights? What about a different way to look at that?  How about everybody gets voting rights, but you need to be a Full Member to race in BIFFA Championship Events?  Perhaps more Club Members would join as Associates if there were a Regional BIFFA Support Program and you could only benefit from that if you had an Associate Membership? Coaching Days is the obvious example, but what about Regional League Tables as another idea? What about BIFFA fixing Club Visits do convert whole fleets to double length jib halyards (ready for the new Rig) at one time. Again – for Associate Members only. We need lots of thinking in this area…

Last thought for the day, would numbers increase if membership could be joined as a Fleet? That is to say, the Fleet Captain rustles them up and collects the dosh. Is that worth a small discount? If you join as a Fleet Member instead of an individual member??  For a while, the Dragons did it that way – and it had the interesting effect …. you just wouldn’t not join in with everybody. At least the Fleet Captain’s would have the advantage of knowing who all the owners are, which of course BIFFA cannot. Perhaps we should at least circulate the Fleet Captains with a list of BIFFA members at each Club so that they can see who is in or out?  Or better, have mast stickers each year, so we could ALL see who is in or out…..?

We need some ideas, I suspect. If you have any comments, please leave them on the blog in “Leave comment” or email them to

BIFFA Membership Numbers are Up !!!….

At the AGM in Hayling, we learned that BIFFA membership numbers are up for the first time in six years.  I hope very much this means we’ll get an active vote on the New Rig… If you haven’t joined up yet, it’s not too late – but if own a Flying Fifteen and you care about your investment, you really should join up quickly and vote. The membership fees are modest and just the price of two rounds of drinks (London Prices!!!)… well – not much anyway.  If the vote goes against your beliefs and you didn’t vote, you’ll be spitting mad. Join now…

So what are the BIFFA membership numbers??  I believe in 2010 they were 361, in 2009 they were 377 and in 2008 they were 395.  Now, there’s a whole other sort of wake up call here.  The subscription fee income in 2010 was £13,969 – so I reckon there will have been around 60 Associate Members as well – which is actually a positive surprise to me!!

Anyway, this will have to be addressed….  We’ll try and produce some suggestions in the coming days, but if you have any diagnostics or ideas, please email them in…. send them to