Three in a Boat…..

SONY DSC(Photo – Justin Waples in his brand new Evans finished Ovington, the boat from the 2014 Dinghy Show, sailing three up at Burnham.)

A year or two ago, a rumour swept through the fleet that we might permit gnavs to replace  vangs and thus create space to race three up.  For the benefit of exploiting the “family boat” characteristic of the class, you have to admit a spot of flexibility in this area could be a useful feature for promoting weekend Club Racing, and getting young ‘uns involved early.

If this resonates with your club fleet, the issue is why not do it anyway?  At our Club, we abandoned the requirement to carry anchor and warp a decade or more ago.  Our man made reservoir is 80 feet deep with very steep concrete sides – there’s no point in the anchor and warp rule for us.  One year ago, our Fleet AGM decided for Club racing that one penalty turn would become the norm as two turns was tending to push people to ignore their obligations.

For myself, I can’t imagine that an extension of the rules to include a ‘third man’ would be at all relevant to the Championship or Open Meeting Circuit.  I can see though that in some Clubs, popularity will be boosted by allowing a third pair of hands aboard.  If you agree, then maybe the Nike slogan applies…. “Just Do It”

The “One Suit of Sails per Year” Rule……!!

My view is that this rule is counterproductive and I believe regularly broken. It is a big disincentive against buying sails from an unknown source. Buy a set of dud sails and you are stuck with them for a year, by which time you are so fed up you have probably switched to another class. It stops new sail makers coming in and stunts the development of the class. Playing with sails is after all what many of us like to do.

Take the case of the keen club sailor (at Parkstone) he can sail 3 times a week. By the time the championship comes his sails are tired out, yet a less active sailor can turn up with barely used sails. Is this fair to the keen stalwarts of the class.

Yes some sailors will buy more sails if the rule is changed (instead of 2 boats like me) but this actually helps the older boats or less well-off sailors as second hand kit will percolate its way down the fleets.

When it comes to an arms race surely more sails are a lot cheaper than more boats!!!!

I also believe that if we open up the sail rule more people will come into the class as it will be more vibrant.

David Tabb

The BIFFA Members Club League Table….!!

Do you remember when our Annual Year Book used to contain the league table of Clubs according to how many paid up association members there were??  I used to leap on that page  – it was a reasonable proxy for the health of FF sailing at each location!!

Well, the table for the current membership year has been issued by HQ – and very interesting reading it makes too.  There are plenty of upsides….

  • For a start, I would not have expected to find Association members at an astonishing 78 UK clubs.
  • Second, right at the top of the league table is Royal Windermere. It’s a rule in that fleet, I’m told, that if you are not a BIFFA member then you don’t race!!
  • What makes a good size fleet??  Well, how about ten full members of BIFFA?? There are 12 clubs that make the grade.
  • How many Clubs are large enough to justify “FFI Fleet Status”?? To have “FFI Fleet Status” needs a minimum of 6 boats and 6 full association members.  Well, we have seventeen of those – and I have a feeling that might be slightly up on 2011.  I’ll have to check.
  • Keep reading the blog for an entry soon which compares for each fleet the number of boats in the 2011 Census and the number of 2012 Association Members.

Click here to see the League Table.

FLEET CAPTAINS – if you would like a list of the current members in your fleet, then you can work out who is not a member!! If you would like the membership list for your fleet  please contact the Association Secretary  on

FF Sails – Who Buys Them All?….

It’s quite hard getting to the bottom of “how big is the UK FF Fleet” – as we have a large legacy of older boats, especially from the boom building years of the 1970s and early 80s….many of which are unsailed or idle.

We were having supper with Charles in the autumn, and he came up with the mildly surprising news that Steve Goacher had said that 80% of the FF sails he makes are for Open Fleet Boats.

I suppose I was a bit surprised.  I guess that P&B would say the same of course. Sail wear and replacement  must tell us something about how much Flying Fifteen sailing is going on – and in what boats?? …I’m wondering what this tells us about FF sailing in UK??

– I think it’s a bit unlikely that 80% of the sailing hours completed are in the Open Fleet, and 20% in Silver and Classics.  Quite likely a Silver/Classic owner is going to get maybe twice the life out of his sails as an Open Fleet owner?? A sweeping generalisation, but it might balance off against the notion that they don’t race quite as often (true in our Club, anyway)

– so in which case instead of the ratio being 80/20, the ratio of boats sailing might be 80/40. Now that seems a bit more like it to me.

– we have around 300 Open Fleet boats racing regularly in UK, so perhaps the 80/40 ratio suggests that we have around 150 Silver/Classic boats racing regularly.  Maybe stretch that number up to 200 as they might not sail quite as regularly? Hmmm – might be a reasonable guess….

In the census we found 670 boats in the UK boat parks in August. So that might suggest that we have around 170 boats just lying idle and slowly going derelict…  In our Fleet we have a few and I suspect we are just average. There could just be something like 170 unsailed boats out there. It feels a bit high….. Many Club Secretaries reported significant numbers of unsailed, little sailed or derelict boats? What do you think from what you see at your Club?

This would leave us with about 500 boats actually sailable and racing to varying degrees…. How many viable fleets could you get out of 500 boats – 30 maybe, at around 15-20 boats per Fleet……  Hmmm….