When the first wave broke over me last weekend in a cold and gusty Northly at Draycote, I realised that the summer regatta season is over and it’s time to dust off the winter kit . But on reflection, it’s been a good summer for sailing 15’s. The live coverage of Cowes week provided a fascinating opportunity to watch the action without getting wet. There were times when the tide was running in opposite directions at each end of the start line – mind boggling stuff. As usual, Rupert Mander & Gareth Edwards sealed the victory with a fantastic score line of straight 1st
The largest fleet of 15’s were seen at Poole week, where Richard Whitworth and Eddie Scroggie did just enough to pip Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts by a point in the 24 boat fleet. Bob & Huw sail number 3537 and they sail it very well. It does go to show that a well sailed older boat can be very competitive. This is proved out by our 2022 Nationals where 20% of the top 10 positions of all the races (10) were taken by a boat older than sail number 4000. Indeed, the stats also point to how competitive the fleet is too, with 24 of the championship’s 42 entries finishing in the top 10 in at least 1 race. That really points to close, tactical fleet racing – doesn’t it.
Congratulations too to Mike Moore & Sally Roberts for winning Bass week overall and Dave & Jackie Gebhard winning Bass’s Cutty Sark Challenge. That just leaves the Chichester Harbour’s Fed week, where a number of boats took the opportunity for some last minute practising before the Europeans. A number of the 15’s finished the last race at Fed week and set sail westwards from Hayling towards Cowes. According to Andy Jamieson, who with James Grant was the top 15 at Fed week, essential items for the trip included headphones and a stock of reading material. After hearing of Uffa Fox’s escapades taking his Sea Scout troop for a weekends sail across the channel and up the river Seine, without the parent’s knowledge, I think the great man himself, would have been proud of the fleets ‘can do’ attitude.
The less adventurous amongst us were very grateful of Red Funnel’s ferry discount and appreciative of the craning skills of both Cowes Corinthian and Shepards Marina to get our boats into the Medina. It is nice to go sailing with dry feet, although as I frantically try and not fall into the water when mooring alongside, I do wish I’d ticked the options box for a non-slip foredeck.
As for the Europeans themselves, it was a great turn out of 71 boats and a big ‘Thank You’ to the 61 UKFFA members for going. It was really pleasing to see a number you choosing this as your first Flying 15 championship and equally a number of old hands choosing to come back into the fleet. Cowes Corinthian and Flying 15 international worked very hard both on and off the water to make the event very special with events such as the receptions at the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Commodores House, Uffa’s Cowes Home proving real highlights.
What this picture of the Commodores House doesn’t show is the late Duke of Edinburgh’s 15, Coweslip was on the slipway outside, her varnish work glistening in the evening sunshine. There was lots of tales of the happiness it bought the Royal Family and it’s particularly poignant following the sad passing of Her Majesty the Queen. A lifetime of public service leaves us with an enormous debt of gratitude. Our thoughts and sympathies are with our Royal family.
One of Uffa’s famous quotes was “The art of winning is not in winning, but in winning so that the rest of fleet are pleased you have won” and I’m delighted to say Andy McKee and Richard Jones, our 2022 European Champions really lived up to this. They sailed a fantastic series in wide variety of conditions to end up worthy winners It was especially pleasing to say Andy’s proud parents and long standing 15 sailors, David & Sally McKee come across for the prize giving.
Uffa’s nephew, Tony Dixon was the driving force for the Uffa 50, a festival of events to celebrate the legacy of Uffa Fox – 50 years onwards. Tony then switched his attention to organise the Europeans and our 75th Anniversary Race. The starboard rounding of the anniversary race’s windward mark needed to be seen to be believed, with 45 boats rounding in very quick order. It was one of those races where the rich got richer, but Terry Scutcher and long time 15 crew Chris Hewkin proved able navigators and worthy winners. It’s a little known fact, but the McKee mafia ran off with all the weeks trophies as Chris Hewkin used to crew for Dave McKee !
I was really sorry to learn of the passing of Chris Hough. Chris was a real driving force at Bewl Valley especially Flying 15’s and really enjoyed sailing with his friends Rob Hogben and Colin Nutt. You’ll be missed Chris.
Looking forward to the 2023 worlds, Bill Chard is organising the shipping. Please make his life easier by letting him know if you’re coming / not coming to Perth. It was great to see Phillipa’s and Dean’s presentation of the event during the Europeans - https://www.flying15worlds2023.com/
It really does promise to be a bucket list event. More details are in the newsletter, but the key timeline is..
- Now calling for money due Sept 25th
- Container Loading end of November
- Boats in Fremantle - February
- Boats return to UK - June
Alastair Stevenson is busy assembling our 2023 calendar and is building events around our nationals at Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy 21st
September. It would be really helpful if the Fleet Captains could please liaise with Alastair when arranging their open meeting.
Look forward to seeing you all at our next event the infamous East Coast Championships at Burnham on September 24th/25th
. The no- discards / all races to count, could be a challenge for some helms.