Dinghy Show Boat and Jib Tracks

Through injury I had to miss the Dinghy Show this year for the first time in…. well, I don’t know how long.    It was very snowy in the week and I’m told it might have been a little bit quieter than usual both in terms of visitors and of course, in boats exhibited. Given how horrid the weather had been, a huge ‘well done’ to anyone who got there!

The Flying Fifteen Class had the World Champion boat on display.

I would guess that with much of the fleet now switching over to the new headsail design, there will have been a lot of interest in the new positioning of the jib tracks.  



The taller aspect ratio sail gives a chance to try sheeting the jib closer to the centre line.  The first trial site was on the onboard face of the vertical side of the seat tank, at the top edge. The traveller cars were not designed for this angle of pressure though and do not run smoothly in this configuration. Thinking has moved on, and Steve has moved his tracks now to the bottom edge of the 45 degree slope as you can see in this picture. Relative to the old track site a couple of inches up the slope the sheet position is a few inches forward.

Tip : I have just had my tracks moved to the same position!  Future proofing, hopefully !!



Flying Fifteen and Enterprise Similarity …??

At Datchet, we’ve not heard much about the New Rig for ages… have you?

Well,  Phil Tinsley is always keen to discuss rules development and he’s come up with this bit of chit chat on the Solo site….

Not so long ago laminate sails were seen an expensive gimmick. Now they are
not much more expensive than Dacron sails (mine was about £600), laminate
sails outnumber Dacron sails at our club. I guess 3DL sails will eventually
reduce in price too and then they will become popular. 

I used to sail an Enterprise like Martin Bradley and totally agree with his
comments. The experience of the Enterprise fleet may offer a lesson as to
what can happen if class development is stifled. 

While a 1970’s Ent can compete successfully at the Nationals, the class has
lost much of its former popularity. The number of new Ents built fell to an
alarmingly low level a few years ago. Yet traditionalists continued to argue
against epoxy FRP hulls (as opposed to the rather fragile polyester FRP
hulls) on the ground that they might render wood hulls obsolete. Ent sail
design and materials are also much the same as they were in the 1970’s. They
have to be made from a blue Dacron type material. 

Recently Rondar started building epoxy FRP hulls. By then, about 10 Solos
were built for each new Ent. I hope the Ent fleet will regain popularity,
They could do a lot worse than adopt the approach of the Solo class.
Allowing gradual development over time helps maintain the vitality of the

More on the sexy New Rig….

We’ve has a few comments in the FF Blog recently from David Duke, Mike Firth and others about the new rig. It all started with a note from Nigel King….

You might have missed it in the comments section, but Justin Waples left the following  comment. Justin said….

I still feel that many are still not picking up on the oringinal reasons for suggesting a tweaked sail shape………..It was not and never has been to make the boat go faster, ot to make it more expensive. The whole issue was to make the Flying Fifteen more attractive to the eye (and not look dated) for new comers to the fleet, and importantly to increase the range of crew weights that can be competitive in all conditions. For those who haven’t tried the new sails and in particular the main in a force 4 and above ( as far back as Kinsale at the Europeans was my first go), it transformed the handling. The boat in a gust felt as though it shot forward raher than sidewides, the load on the mainsheet was less, and the helm felt as light as a feather, not even the characteristic gentle tug in the gust. Mylar or dacrom is another issue, but please can we not think that it was to make the boat just go faster, it always has been for the above reasons of looks to appeal to new comers and weight of crew.

The above has been in the mixing pot for over four years, and as a class we need to make a decision to go ahead or drop the whole idea, four years should be long enough to make a decision. We do have great boat, we do have a great class, but as with so many classes our membership is only marginally increasing, and we need to be consistently thinking of ways to attract new sailors to the Flying Fifteen. Making it more attrctive to the eye, easier to sail my a wider range of crew weights, so getting more people buying a flying Fifteen gets my vote every time.

Seasons geetings to everyone, and god luck to the teams going to Perth

Justin Waples
Bright Sparks

FF Brand Image …!! The “Old Man’s Boat”, Eh ??!!…

The ff image

I have recently had a very illuminating conversation with a fleet captain of a club which has a dozen or so ffs in the boat park.

In his club, there have been few/no new members for some time.    The numbers are falling gently and of course the existing members are ageing.    Not too surprisingly, other club members see the ff as a boat for old buffers.

Contrast this with the situation at Datchet.    By chance, eight years ago there were six ffs and most of the owners were over sixty.    Only two of our current fleet were members at that time.    All but one of the members who have joined since are now in their 30s, 40s or 50s.     Only in fun are we now described as a gang of old men sailing an old man’s boat.

All this has nothing at all to do with the design of the boat and its sail plan.

Mike Firth


When is The Vote on The New Rig??…

Not unreasonably, a few people have asked lately when the much heralded Vote on The New Rig will be held.  It’s a good question….

First I think there is an FFI rule which enforces a time lag between votes on rule changes. This is an FFI Vote, remember…. It might be a gap of four years or something like that. So it really depends what the last set of rule changes were ratified by ISAF at a guess.  I’m thinking that very possibly it will be very early in the New Year…..

Has everyone in your Club, especially the owners with strong opinions, made sure their membership fees at BIFFA are up to date.??  If the Vote goes against their personal wishes on the matter, they’ll be spitting if they didn’t get the chance to vote. For myself, I feel it’s really important that the vote is as well populated as possible. The changes are very far reaching, and the difference at one end of the fleet will quite likely be different to the other. So if you know someone who has not joined, press them into doing so without delay. Fleet Captains – you’d better get on it!!

Rumour has it that there will be at least three things to vote upon.

1/ Should minimum weight be reduced (10kg or 20kg, I’m not sure)

2/ The New Sail Design

3/ Whether the rule on woven sailcloth should be relaxed  i.e. mylar is allowed

However, the bar chatter is that FFI may surprise us with some more options. How about allowing a GNAV instead of a kicker for example??  Interesting….  And that would open the way to some more ideas which may help fleets that have a family bias…  Pure speculation in our Bar… We shall see…

Flying Fifteen, New Rig Photos…..

It occurs to me that although the New Rig has been out on tour, not everybody will have seen it by any means…. FF Blog to the rescue!!

If you click here you will see a slideshow, taken at a couple of venues, but mainly Datchet.  Take a view and see what you think….

Setting aside the mylar v dacron issue for the minute (there are photos of both sailcloths), you have to admit it looks good….

The New Flying Fifteen Rig – a View from South Windermere…..

 I have a family and have to run my boat on a tight budget. As such I’m totally impressed by the build quality of my 18 year old Ovington “smoothie” which looks like a boat half the age and whilst not of “nationals winning” standard can compete pretty well against much newer boats at local / open level. Compared to the situation 20 years ago when I used to sail in the class, where boats went out of tune after a couple of years and only the very latest shape went well to start with, we’re in a really strong position.
The biggest issue for me is the cost of sails. I try and get hold of season old sails and struggle to afford even them. From what I have read about the proposed new rig it seems that sails will cost even more than at present and be less durable, both of which are surely counter to the interests of club sailors like me. Also, the notion that boats with the old rig will be equally competitive is laughable. If they are easier to handle and have better gust response they would be just the thing for getting round the course faster in a breeze ….?
John Thornley
South Windermere YC

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?!!

Mylar and Aeroweb….

Y&Y magazine plopped through the letter-box this week. I leapt on it as usual and scanned disappointedly through all the features looking for something to blog about…. It seems to have gone all “big boat” this month.  What a shame…..

And then I got to the ‘Roll Tacks’ column…. How topical for Flying Fifteeners….!  The main theme in the column this month is about a couple of guys in a Merlin Rocket with Aeroweb Mylar sails, who sailed a whole series before being disqualified for illegal sails. And then the Aeroweb Mylars were made legal … “What?”, did I hear you say??

It seems that the point of the ‘aeroweb’ bit, is that they make the mylar sail last longer. It looks like it is made with a huge number of small panels, with seams everywhere – and hence the ‘web’ in the name.  I’ve no idea why this makes the sail last longer, but it must make the sail even more expensive to produce, don’t you think? We blogged about this back on April 5th, in “Another Slice of Mylar”. If you click the link to Speed Sails there you will see a photo of an aeroweb sail – you’ll see what I mean about the seams….

I think Mylar has been class legal in Merlins for quite a while.  It seems to me though that the point about the forthcoming FF vote on the new rig is whether our proposed rule change on sailcloth is going to permit this ‘aeroweb’ cut – or will that be illegal??

BIFFA Membership… and the New Rig vote….

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the sentiments from the Draycote Fleet contained in yesterday’s blog regarding the new rig.  I’ve got two things on my mind….

Lets set aside our friends at Draycote though – what about our Fleet? Firstly, I’ve always been a member of BIFFA – but even after all these years I’m unsure who in our club fleet has joined and who has not. I understand too that everyone has a choice about these things. If you own an older flying fifteen that you only race at Club level, then  BIFFA membership may not seem worth it.  However, it is likely that owners in this number may well be the ones who are most concerned about the new rig being a significant cost driver, splitting the class, increasing depreciation, and those kinds of issues. Ironically if they are not members, they will be frustrated if the vote is positive. In which case, I would argue that they should join BIFFA right away to be able to vote on the new rig and ensure their voice is heard.  If one really is concerned about increased ownership costs, and increased depreciation, then, lets face it, these figures dwarf the £35 cost of joining BIFFA this important year.  (Is the fee £35?.. I forget…) So thought number one is, “everyone should join BIFFA this year, and everyone should vote…”

My second thought, is that FFI ought to ensure that when this vote does come along it is two votes not one. I have a feeling that the ground swell for the new rig design may be stronger in its support, than the ground swell opinion for mylar or laminate sail cloth. I really like the new rig design, but speaking purely for myself I am pretty indifferent to moving to more expensive sail cloth with shorter life.  If I am in any way typical of the average Club sailor (which I am…), it would be a pity if the vote went against the new rig as a whole, mainly because of the mylar issue.  I very much hope the FFI vote splits the two questions….

I wonder how our friends at Draycote think about that idea? Perhaps they would write in and tell us or leave a comment on the blog…..

Could be a bumper year for fee income at BIFFA, of course…. 🙂

Another Slice of Mylar…

I think I noted a couple of weeks ago that although the Contender Class can use Dacron or Mylar for their mainsails, the top two boats in their Midwinter Championships were using North built, Dacron mainsails.  Must try and chat with Mr Contender World Champ, Stuart Jones about that….. He was one of them, of course…

Been reading this on Speed Sails Site…

When film/mylar sails first started making an appearance in the late 1970s, the development of the new materials was heralded as being a breakthrough for sailmaking technology. Despite a few trials and tribulations, most sailmakers soon mastered the new skills needed to work the film based panels, with Mylar sails quickly becoming an exciting option for those forward looking classes who were happy to adopt the new technology. What soon became clear however was that using Mylar was far from simple, as it was not just a case of substituting one material for another. The change to the new material should have brought about a sail making revolution, but the end result was far more a case of cautious evolution, as the sailors themselves would take time to change their understanding of their rigs. What was needed to drive the next step forward was a technique that would allow sailmakers to fully utilise the advances offered by the new generation of materials. The end goal had to be sails that were constructed with panel shapes and thickness dictated by the loadings within the sail itself……….

You can read the full article here:-

Speed Sails

National FC Meeting – Idea One !!….

As we discussed earlier, The National Fleet Captains’ Meeting is coming up at the Dinghy Show.  I would have thought that high on the Agenda will be the forthcoming vote on the FF New Rig.  Quite right too – it will impact on all of us…..

If I were BIFFA I might be inclined to make it all as simple as possible and only put one question to the Vote – “do you want the new rig or not?”.  But is that in the best interests of the main bulk of the owners ?…

Looking back at this Blog’s dialogue on the subject (click on Categories, “New Rig”….), I would guess that BIFFA should ask two questions….

– do you want the new design of rig?

– do you want a move to freedom of sailcloth (ie Mylar) to be supported?

It seems to me from comments we have on the Blog, especially one from an aspiring FF owner concerned about cost of ownership (which took me aback), we might want to separate the vote this way. For myself, I feel that the new design is terrific and we should have done it years ago. I fear though that unless we split the two questions,   Club Level BIFFA membership just might vote against it overall, because of the Mylar cost issue. That would be a shame.  So that’s it – One vote or two?  My view, it should be two votes….

Please leave a comment on the blog or email us at datchetman@flyingfifteen.com