President's Letter for October
First words from new UKFFA President Bill Chard
My first newsletter as President, but I think most of you will know me already, and if we haven’t met at an event yet, hopefully that will change next season. I’ll start by thanking Ian Cadwallader for running the ship for the last couple of years and handing over to me with the UK fleet in such good shape.
The health of the UK class was demonstrated at our recent Nationals, which had the best turnout in recent years and was a hugely successful event in all respects. After the slightly damp and breezy weather on arrival (for those that arrived on the Wednesday at least), we enjoyed a good mix of sailing conditions and some great racing. We’ve had several messages of thanks from competitors who enjoyed the racing as well as the shore side events. My congratulations to new national champion and returning Fifteen sailor Ben McGrane crewed by Russ Clarke, thanks again to all involved in running the event, and to our sponsors (too numerous to list again here) who helped make it all possible.
Elsewhere in this newsletter you will read about the 2024 calendar, championship series, and the qualifiers for the 2025 Worlds (Weymouth again…). It seems like every week I hear of a top sailor from another class planning to get a Fifteen for next season, and with the aim of competing at Weymouth in 2025, so it’s looking like next year could see some top level competition. Certainly we have some great venues lined up, including a return to Strangford Lough for the Nationals, and a Europeans in France.
Of course we have a strong club racing scene in the class too, and I think Parkstone YC must currently have the biggest club fleet. I keep hearing about 20-boat start lines for Saturday racing in Poole harbour, and I must try to get an invitation to go and sample that some time!
I’m very pleased therefore to welcome Steve Randle as our new Vice President. Steve has been a part of the growth and success of the Parkstone fleet, and having him on the committee will help ensure that as an association we continue to support our club fleets in the most effective ways.
As I write this, it’s only 4 weeks since we returned from Weymouth but already we’re preparing for the winter sailing season. Although having said that, as I watched the Mirror Inlands in beautiful conditions at Chew today (won by a certain Ben McGrane) it felt more like June again. The Fifteen comes into its own during the winter months - I always feel a certain satisfaction with a keel under me when I see someone swimming around a dinghy on an icy January day - so keep sailing, and enjoy!
We’ll keep the newsletters coming through the winter, with more on next year’s plans as well as details of how we’ll be showcasing our boat at the RYA Dinghy Show in February, and many other Fifteen-themed articles.
In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with any questions or suggestions, and do come and say hello if you see me at an event.