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Keith Jamieson 115

Flying Fifteen Open at Royal Corinthian Yacht Club

6th and 7th of July 2024

The 2024 edition of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Flying Fifteen Open was won by Ian Cadwallader and Ellie Devereux, sailing on IntoStellar, GBR4126, after 5 races sailed on strong winds and confused weather.

The weather was not kind to the sailors on the first day of the regatta, the wind gusts pushing 40 knots and forcing Edwin Buckley, the Race Officer, to keep the fleet in the marina for a couple of hours after launch.

Eventually, the wind subsided to a more manageable strength and a single river race was set up.

Guest to the class, but veteran of the river, Phil Aspinall, crewed by Dave Sheppard, sailing on a borrowed boat, Riffraff, GBR3726, took an early lead but was easily caught by the fleet and due to unfamiliarity with the boat and spinnaker problems, dropped to the last place by the end of the race.

The eventual winners were Ian and Ellie, with 2 other veterans of the river, Justin Waples and         Dave Hyde, Sparks & Bubble, GBR4033, taking the second and Richard Hope and Jeremy Arnold, Deffiant III, GBR4044, on 3rd.

Back in the marina, the fleet was greeted by pontoon side drinks and eventually made their way back to Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, for dinner and a few more drinks.

Sunday morning brought more manageable winds but produced a few surprises for the fleet.

To bring the fleet to the racing area for the scheduled windward-leeward races, the RO set up another river course, starting just out of the Burnham Marina, west to Fairway 13, followed by a long reach to the mouth of the river Roach, to finish with 2 laps around permanent racing marks in the river.

The eventual winners were Ian and Ellie, with Ellie noting: “I don't think I've ever done a 3 sail reach as long as the first race yesterday!

“My arms felt like they were going to fall off”, she added.

Chris and Emma Spark, sailing on Ffast Idiots, GBR3764, seemed to enjoy the lighter winds, as they took the second, ahead of Chris Waples and Jackie McKellar, Sparks, GBR4061.

With the fleet in place, a windward leeward course was set on the river Roach, for the next 2 races.

The first of them, a 45 minute race, saw Ian and Ellie take another win, mostly by picking the west shore, while the rest of the fleet kept on the east shore.

Richard and Jeremy took the second and Chris and Jackie the third.

With the wind strength increasing and a menacing front appearing on the horizon, the second windward-leeward race was shortened to 30 minutes.

This time the east shore was the winning side and, as they kept with the plan, Ian and Ellie, followed by Chris and Emma, dropped to 5th and 6th.

Justin and Dave Hyde, despite picking the wrong side of the river, had a change in plans and switched sides for an eventual 3rd place, in front of Phil and Dave Sheppard.

The squall that swept through the racing area with hailstorm, reducing the visibility considerably, did not make things easy for the fleet: “It was quite painful to go against the hailstorm” Justin commented, while a few boats broached.

The winners were Chris and Jackie, followed by Richard and Jeremy, with Justin and Dave Hyde on 4rd, ahead of Phil and Dave Sheppard on 4th.

To finish the day and bring the fleet back to the marina, the RO set up a simple river course, with the fleet heading towards Jubilee and the committee boat high tailing it to Fairway 11, while respecting the wash rules on the river, to set up the finish line.

It looked like Phil and Dave Sheppard finally got the hang of the boat, when they were leading approaching Branklet, the intersection mark between the river Crouch and Roach, yet they were soon to be overtaken by the Waples brothers, with Chris and Jackie taking the win, Justin and Dave Hyde on second, leaving the two squibbers on 3rd, in glorious sunshine.

After the boats were packed for the way home, the fleet made its way to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, for cake and prize giving.

“Burnham is such a great example of river sailing, which requires a unique set of skills that the Waples have clearly mastered”, Ellie, the winner, said.

“That mixed with the wide ranging wind conditions we saw, made for some exciting and competitive racing.

“Plus, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club hospitality is unmatched, beers on the pontoon, a delicious dinner and tea and cake gave us many opportunities to discuss the challenges of the day!”.

Talking about the boat, she added: “It's the most civilised boat to sail as the keel means that there's a smaller risk of swimming!

“And as demonstrated at the weekend they can fly when fully powered up” she added.

Her words were mirrored by Dave Sheppard, who, while used to larger keelboats and with no dinghy sailing experience, had some doubts: “I was very nervous, especially given the wind strengths we had on Saturday morning.

“I was surprised and relieved by how deep the cockpit was.

“As we crept out of the shelter of the marina banks and into the Crouch, with just the main up in a 15 knots breeze, I soon realised where the boat's name comes from.

“Standout moment, other than getting smacked down with all sails out, was the boat planning with just the main sail out”.

While, technically, this was not the first time Dave Hyde sailed on a Flying Fifteen, since that Take A Boat Out day when he was 7, he found it awesome: “Especially 3 boats sailing straight on through the 40kt squall!”

“A friendly fleet and Justin is a great helm, he remained very calm when things didn't go entirely to plan”

“I would definitely do it again”

Full results:

Extra Gallery here and here

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