posted on February 16, 2013
With the start of a new season looming, the introduction of a national ranking system and the World Championships in Hong Kong later this year, Tom Waples spoke to several fleet members throughout the UK to discuss how this new league would affect the class during this year, from potential contenders to the support of regional events.
It is interesting to gauge the opinions of the class, from those actively competing on the domestic circuit to those enjoy club and the attitudes between Open, Silver and Classic sailors. The class is incredibly versatile and offers sailing to all levels and ambition.
Hamish McKay, Royal Highland Yacht Club
What is it that particularly excites you about this new ranking system and the kudos of being ‘Number 1’?
- The new ranking system will give a great opportunity to measure each other's performance across a number of events throughout the year.
- The ability to collect points at either a small number of grade one events or more at grade 2 and 3 regattas throughout the year will create great competition to be top of the list in the ranking come the year end.
- This gives the domestic travelling fleet something to aim for in addition to the traditional 1st place at Nationals, Inlands etc and is a great initiative that has proven successful in other classes
Andy Lawson, Datchet Water SC
Looking at last year’s result you and Hamish were the most travelled UK team, what is it that you enjoy most about travelling?
- Well it certainly was not Hamish booking the accommodation for starters! As we were new to the class last year we felt that time in the boat was critical. Garda was our main focus, so we needed to sort out the rig and improve our boat handling. The only way to do that was by doing as many events early in the season that family and business commitments would allow.
- As ‘newbies’ we were always made to feel very welcome at events and soon found out racing was very competitive - I did have to order white gel coat from P&B after the first event as it took Hamish a while to get to grips the F15 ‘fish tail’!
- With a new boat arriving mid February, we have a number of events already on the wall planner to get her up to speed. I am certainly looking forward to another busy season, just a shame we can't go back to Garda!
Adrian Tattersall, Parkstone Yacht Club
So who do you see as contenders for the Number 1 spot and why?
- FF sailors come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and dispositions. The number one slot will depend on the competition, the rules and events no doubt. The competition within the fleet is so high that anyone can win given the right conditions; it could definitely throw up a few surprises.
- There is a trade off between those who win a few events versus those who travel frequently and consistently perform at each event.
Jeremy Davy, BIFFA President, Draycote Water Sailing Club
Do you think there will be any surprise challengers from Silver and Classics boats at the top of the table?
- The modern FF is a seriously good piece of kit and anyone trying to compete against the Open Fleet in a Silver or Classic is unfortunately at big disadvantage.
- I think the Number 1 ranking will go to someone racing a modern boat, but I’m very interested to see who finishes highest in the ranking list in the Silver and Classic category.
- The beauty of having those distinct categories is that it provides a sub-plot where older FFs can race each other on a level (and affordable) playing field... and the racing is just as serious as in the Open Fleet!
Greg Wells, FFI Commodore, Hayling Island Sailing Club
Do you see this ranking system being applied to other Flying Fifteen fleets across the globe?
- The ranking system is an excellent initiative which will create much interest and good PR. Hopefully it will also lead to greater turnouts at open events. There will always be opinions and arguments about its accuracy but that is all part of the appeal!
- Virtually all sports have world ranking lists and it is a great opportunity for the International Flying Fifteen class to lead the way for the non-Olympic classes. Who knows, even ISAF may be interested in publishing our list!
- Yes I believe the ranking list will generate interest across the globe, the class is very strong in Australia at this time and I am sure they will embrace such a system.
Pip Hudson, Broxbourne Sailing Club
Do you think this will help to promote regional and smaller events?
- The ranking system will help to identify that the F15 is an active class on the national scene.
- A few years ago there were of the order of 100 boats participating in at least one of the Qualifying events and I hope to see that easily exceeded on the ranking ladder.
- It is unlikely to change attitudes to travelling overnight, but even if people travel to one or two extra events it should hopefully increase the support for local opens.
Graeme Galbraith, Cardwell Bay Sailing Club
What impact will it have on the Scottish fleet and their interaction with the class as whole, given travelling distances for teams to compete in the South and vice versa?
- The interaction of the Scottish fleet is something that we have been trying to address for a couple of years. The vast majority of fifteen owners in Scotland tend to be weeknight club racers who very rarely get ‘on the road’ and travel to other events, let alone ranking events.
- Through the introduction of a travellers series in 2010 and greater publicity at club level, we have started to see an increase in travelling boats within the Scottish circuit but have still to encourage greater involvement at national level.
- To sum up, the Scottish Fleet, with the exception of 2 or 3 boats, is still some way behind in terms of competing for a place on the table.
Simon Thompson, Draycote Water Sailing Club
How do you think the most recent ‘Sprint’ format used by the Draycote will help to boost numbers in boosting turnouts?
- The ‘one day’ format is attractive as you get a day free for House Points or all the other stuff you have to do, like shopping!
- The sprint format crams a lot of races into a short period which is great for improving skills and facilitates a meaningful series in a shorter timescale. However there will probably be less camaraderie if people leave right after racing and the risk that if the weather is poor on the day then you lose the whole event.
- It is a great concept and should help to improve numbers as teams should support local events and poses a different challenge.
Anthony Osman, Parkstone Yacht Club
How will you change your approach to this system compared to your normal approach?
- For me it doesn't change my approach dramatically; but adds to the excitement.
- Given that every event counts towards the league, and is not limited to qualifiers, as this is not the mindset of everyone that wants to travel or sail a fifteen, it could potentially encourage some to travel to smaller events but I am sceptical if it will attract any new people to do the open/ qualifiers circuit.
John Hanson, Datchet Water Sailing Club
What impact do you think applying a weighting will have on attitudes towards certain events?
- In any competitive fleet having a rating will work in getting people interested, so yes it will be positive.
- Assigning those events a greater score should help to attract the top teams. It may also help in getting other people to travel, as their score will improve the more events they go to, thus driving people to look at more events.
- It is not always about the big ticket events, and could get people to go to clubs that need support to build their fleets. And of course having prizes and trophies makes it something teams aspire to win.
- The big win for smaller fleets will be more boats turning up and showing it is a competitive fleet just as Justin is trying to do at Burnham.
Keith Jamieson, Royal Windermere Yacht Club
How do you think this will rejuvenate BIFFA members participation?
- I think it might get people sailing at the open meetings closest to them if they think it might count towards something, plus with a weighting for the area Championships and Nationals that might get more people sailing there as they will get more points for this too.
- Becoming a BIFFA member (if not already) will enable them to ‘unlock’ their ranking as only class members are included in the league – ‘look where you would have finished if you were a member’.
- There are other added benefits of being a member of the association, including the highly competitive class insurance scheme through UK Global.
Phil Evans, Royal Windermere Yacht Club
How do you think crews will react to the ranking system?
- Crews are well versed in letting their helms take the praise, it helps to nurse their egos, but we all know that the crew is the first to win a race and Championship...
Click here to see Tom Waples' Analysis of turnouts....