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Willowbrook Foods Flying Fifteen Championships of the British Isles - Results
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Willowbrook Foods Flying Fifteen Championships of the British Isles - Results

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Racing was only possible on the final day - Saturday 30th June.

The winners were Steve Goacher and Tim Harper, now forever to be known as "The Whippet and The Whopper"! (Don't ask). All who attended would return to what is an excellent and very friendly venue, with an excellent piece of water for racing. Full results are attached to this news article.

Below is a copy of the report on the event from the Strangford Lough Yacht Club.

100 Flying Fifteeners from across the UK and Ireland went home happy today, thanks to the welcome they received from SLYC’s sunburned band of volunteers. It is hard to overstate the effort that so many people put into the Championship of the British Isles, which appears – against the odds, to have been a success.

For three days the race officer whistled for wind, as the council enforced a hosepipe ban and the English crisped on the balcony under the weight of the sun and Niall Clarke’s ability to put beer down their throats. Every cloud has a silver lining, and the fact that we had not one cloud for the week meant that the bar profits went into orbit. Phil Quinn not only helped run the bar, but he set the line and drove a quad for boat recovery too. Rachel was magnificent at keeping sailors refreshed and a host of others did their stint at the till, including Harold Hunter, Luke and Leigh Hamill (who also hosted a small army of sailors and fed them crushed avocado) Jacq Martin, Jon Fleming and a squadron of others who supported it at (often) busy times.

The compliments from visitors were not just confined to the bar team however – because the food was quite simply, magnificent. Annie and Brian Hill fed around 100 people each night, the value was astonishing, the service came with a huge smile and every offering was delicious. Shy as Annie is, she was forced to come and accept a bunch of flowers at the end to great cheers from those she had kept upright all week. There were a group of helpers too, to whom we are really grateful.

No event can run without sponsors. John McCann of Willowbrook Foods not only stumped up the cash, but he made a comeback after 25 years as a landlubber. John returned to the side tank of a Flying Fifteen, and he wasn’t too shabby. His love of these boats was clear as he presented over 60 trophies and said a few words at the prize giving. We were also supported by Ards Borough Council which contributed to fuel costs and allowed us to use the car park as campsite. Finnebrogue Venison supplied the Bar B Que on the Saturday night – the food was great. At one point the balcony looked like the eleventh night as Brian flipped the snags and burgers amid a funnel of smoke. Copeland’s Gin ran a promotion which went down rather too well, and Hyde Sails generously gave away a genoa, numerous bags, t-shirts and hats, while Goacher Sails brought Gale Force Ale.

Chris Boston and Jack had to drive to the brewery every day to keep the bar stocked, and they were even caught tidying up at 0700 one morning. Jack was also a star when it came to boat recovery. Many others took leave to help out, including Jon Fleming, Big and Little Hen (Anstey) and Peter Chamberlain. Don Clarke was on hand to take WAGs and husbands out to watch the sailing, Phil and Stevie Martin registered people to within an inch of their lives, and the Commodore was there every day and night with a smile and a welcome, and occasionally a dance.

When we did eventually get afloat, it not only came as an enormous relief, but as an incredible spectacle. The wind blew from the east, the sun kissed the sea and we blazed around for three fantastic and fair races, marshalled with absolute authority by Brian Matthews from Dublin, who left with our enormous thanks. His squad on the committee boat (provided by Peter Burrowes) included PJ Gault, Leigh Hamill, John Leeman Allen and Hugh and Rosie Baird. Their team afloat was brilliant. Ed Ginn, Colin Cushley, Rory McKenna, Todd Garrett, Joseph Hamill and others were all guided by mark-laying veterans, Peter Irwin and John Hagan. Our sincere thanks to them all. It must have cost them a fortune in sun screen, although we did note the inventive fashion in which they modelled parasols to the RiBs.

Our gatekeeper for the week, our public face and our guide throughout was Elaine Cushley. Elaine quietly contained any burbling issue, her diplomacy under pressure was remarkable and because of her, the whole thing passed off peacefully.

Finally, a word about the Victor Trophy, introduced to the event and donated by Victor Boston. This is truly a work of intricate craftsmanship, and will be awarded every three years to anyone who has made significant contribution to Flying Fifteen sailing in Ireland. It will stay at SLYC on display and is well worth a look. It is a scaled model of Victor’s own boat, which is now in Kinsale. The first name on the trophy will, deservedly, be Brian McKee’s. Brian has been a constant, if quiet source of encouragement for young fifteener’s for years. He brings people into the class, encourages them, trains them, gets them tuned up and is then delighted for them when they (occasionally) manage to get to the finish line in front of him. He’s built boats, and his generosity with his time is unrivalled. He has also won just about every event in these islands, including World Championship races. Brian even loaned his quicker boat to John McCann for his comeback. To mark Brian’s outstanding contribution to the class, he was awarded the Victor Trophy, and now he can get back onto the plastic boat for the Irish Nationals, assuming John hasn’t bought it off him.

The event was applauded by almost all of the visitors, and the people mentioned here have ensured that it will be back soon. Hopefully not too soon, but the club feels like it is in great shape just now, and our small class of local fifteens are really grateful to you all.

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