After a lost day of racing due to high winds and driving rain yesterday, The Flying Fifteen National Championship got underway yesterday at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, Falmouth with some ideal sailing conditions, light to moderate breezes with a dose of Cornish sunshine thrown in for good measure.
51 competitors from all corners of the UK, including one all the way from Perth, Australia, (but sadly none of the Irish fleet given the world championships will be staged on Dublin Bay in 2019) set out for three back to back races in Falmouth Bay. PRO Peter Sexton set a course of one windward/leeward lap followed by a triangle lap to allow the Flying Fifteen to race on all points of sailing.
All three starts were clean showing some caution by the fleet to avoid picking up any early high scores. Although there were some small shifts around the race track and a bit of current on the inshore side of the course, the upwind and downwind runs were quite an even spread proving the race course was not heavily favoured either side.
Race 1 started in 8 - 12 knots of Southerly breeze, the early leaders were David Tabb and Chewey Sherrell from Parkstone YC in Poole, from Simon Kneller and David Lucas from Grafham Water SC. However, the current UK National Champions, Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett from Draycote Water SC, worked their way to the front with good speed on the downwind legs to take the first winning gun of the championship with Tabb/Sherrell settling for second and Andrew Farmer and Steve Greham, an excellent third. The whole fleet finished in just under an hour of racing with only one retirement due to gear failure.
PRO Peter Sexton didn’t hang around getting race 2 started. Another clean start and another split upwind. This time it was Adrian Tattersall and Richard Popper from Parkstone YC, leading the way around lap 1 closely pursued by the Anglo/Irish team helmed by Charles Apthorp from Hayling Island SC and crewed by Alan Green from National YC in Dublin. By the gate rounding, Apthorp/Green had taken the lead but another Parkstone YC boat, Crispin Read-Wilson and Steve Brown were challenging. The Anglo/Irish team held on to the lead on the triangle leg to score their first win of the championship but Davy/Huett again closed on the runs to record second with Read-Wilson/Brown a solid third place.
For the third race of the day, the breeze just increased a shade to 11 - 13 knots and a few waves started to make the downwind legs a bit more interesting. Still ideal conditions for the Flying Fifteens to get up on the plane.
Another clean start and a good one for the current world champions Steve Goacher and Tim Harper from Royal Windermere YC. They led around all marks of the course extending their lead on the second lap to win quite comfortably from Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado from Hayling Island SC. Chipping away to move up from fifth to third was Apthorp/Green but this time Davy/Huett had to work much harder sailing from deep in the teens at the first windward mark to recover to 7th by the finish.
Jeremy Davy came ashore satisfied with his first day’s racing:
“We were quite pleased with our day, we had to work really hard for the 7th in the last race, we started quite badly and were well down at the first mark, so in many ways that was our best race. But it was a beautiful day, fabulous conditions, there were some shifts to make it interesting, but nothing too dramatic, so you had to work hard, some good waves, great sailing downwind, the reaches were hard work but there were lots of places to be made on the runs.”
“In the last race we had some good legs downhill, we seem to be quick downwind today, that is probably where we made most gains, there were some fairly big waves so it was easy to hit a wave badly, so we were trying to look out for them. But it was a good first day and what a fabulous venue!”.
Overall after the first day of racing, Apthorp/Green hold a two point lead with their consistency paying dividends. Davy/Huett are second with Goacher/Harper moving up to 3rd to stay in contention.
Charles Apthorp comments on his consistent first day:
“Great conditions, the line was very well set and the course was in good shape, it was difficult to see where the advantage was on either side of the course so as long as you got a clean lane and sailed the boat quite fast, there was only about 5 degrees of wind shift so it was just a case of not trying to do anything too complicated.”
Best Classic boat of the day was Bobby Salmond and David Hall sailing the wooden Flying Fifteen number 627.
Throughout the day there were only about 4 retirements due to a few breakages. One boat did have to return ashore due to a fairly heavy battle scar from a collision before the start of the final race of the day.
Some weary but typically happy sailors returned for some local ale and traditional Cornish pasties served up at the Royal Cornwall YC. At the daily prize giving, special mention was made of a few sailors who performed above and beyond. Amongst them, the long distance visitors John Hassen and Bruce Barnard from South of Perth YC in Western Australia were singled out for some extensive trawling at the gate mark without the required Cornish fishing license! The local fisherman are very protective about their catch and using a spinnaker as a net is heavily frowned upon!
The schedule for Friday is for three more races with an earliest warning signal at 1200 midday. The forecast is for similar breezes but from a more Westerly direction.
Results are here