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Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland

22nd July 2009

In March 2009, Afloat's Graham Smith had this to say about the Flying Fifteens: "With the European Championships in Kinsale, it was a big year for the Irish F15 class which represented the bulk of the 56-boat fleet at the south coast venue. Britain’s Steve Goacher won the event with Darren Martin and Simon Murray of Strangford Lough YC the best of the local contingent. Click here for all the latest Flying Fifteen news.

It was a good year for the Whiterock pair who also won the Southern and Northern championships while the SLYC domination was completed with the two other regionals, the Easterns and Westerns, going to clubmates Roger Chamberlain and Brian McKee respectively.

More SLYC success seemed on the cards when the Nationals were held at Whiterock but just to upset the odds, Dave Gorman and Chris Doorly of the National YC stole all the thunder and emerged as the new Irish Champions. Twenty-six boats – up on the previous year – contested the top event from a total national fleet of approximately 160 boats found in 16 clubs and a few other locations around the country.

Next year (2010) is the 40th anniversary of the Dun Laoghaire F15 fleet. National Champion as at March 2009: David Gorman and Chris Doorly, National YC" 


A brief history of the Flying Fifteen Fleet within Ireland, courtesy of The Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland

Extracts have been taken from a document called ‘The Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen Fleet, The First 25 Years 1970–1995’, written by Peter O'Shea in June 1995. Thanks to Sean Nolan for acquiring a copy for the webmaster.

1948 – Three yachts built in quick succession at the Medina Yacht Yard at Cowes. The class was known as Dainty Ducks and changed to Flying Fifteens with the characteristic fortissimo lettering
1949 – The Flying Fifteen Association of Great Britain was formed, first secretary Squadron Leader Charles Nance.
1949 – Uffa Fox meets Prince Philip HRH Duke of Edinburgh, they became firm friends and frequently sailed together.
1950 – The people of Cowes present Prince Philip with his own Flying Fifteen ‘Coweslip’.
1954 – First hulls built from GRP produced in the UK.
1962 – Australian Flying Fifteen Association founded in Western Australia with Tally Hobbs as President and G.J. Sassella as secretary.
1963 – ‘Ffolly’ (no. 215), brought to Dublin by David Newmark. DBSC (Dublin Bay Sailing Club) agreed to give a start after much negotiation about  seaworthiness of the Flying Fifteen class. Jack Owens crewed on ‘Ffolly’ for the first three years. The hull was a Tormentor hull, which was the Windibank of the day. This is possibly the first Irish Flying Fifteen.

1968 – Irish Flying Fifteen seen moored alongside the Royal Irish Yacht Club. It appeared to be an all timber, varnished boat, with a turtle deck forward. This was built by Albert Foley, in a joinery works in Phibsboro, in the mid 60s, registered as number 1269, and called ‘Squalus’, to join the fleet in 1970, owned by Timothy Orr.

1969 – A summer of heavy winds in Dublin Bay. Arthur Lavery and Teddy (Bryan S.) Ryan spotted a fleet of Flying Fifteens sailing with comparative ease at Dinghy Week in Baltimore, while other classes were struggling in the inner harbour. Teddy Ryan and Arthur Lavery led the campaign to start a class in Dun Laoghaire, a minimum of 7 boats were required for a DBSC start. Teddy Ryan sailed in a ‘Copland’ Fifteen at Kinsale, which was imported by Bill Godkin. Teddy Ryan bought ‘Little Lady’ (no. 1092) at the agreed price of £634, including sails and trailer. Advertisement appeared in the Irish Times. On seeing the ad, Sean Nolan cancelled an order for a Mermaid in favour of a Flying Fifteen.  Bill Godkin was accepting multiple orders for Flying Fifteens.
Inaugural Meeting of the new Flying Fifteen Fleet in Dun Laoghaire was held on 24th September 1969.

1970 – The Flying Fifteen class started in DBSC as a result of Arthur Lavery's interest in the boat. Bryan S. Ryan agreed to front the start-up. They got the initial owners together as per this picture that appeared in the Irish Independent on 8-January-1970.

1970 – Initial eight boats from the Godkin yard were as follows:
‘Little Lady’, number 1092, owned by Teddy Ryan
‘Siobhan’, number 1257, owned by Arthur Lavery
‘Susele’, number 1258, owned by Michael Halpenny
‘Frankie’, number 1259, owned by Ronnie Kavanagh
‘Ffaoilean’, number 1260, owned by Jack Owens
‘Bonnie’, number 1262, owned by Noel O'Hare
‘Nicjac’, number 1263, owned by Sean Nolan
‘Fferocity’, number 1265, owned by Tony Neiland; and
‘Squalus’, number 1296, owned by Timothy Orr

1970 – First DLFF committee was elected:
Captain - Bryan S Ryan
Vice Captain - Noel O'Hare
Treasurer - Ronnie Kavanagh
Record Keeper - Jack Owens
Secretary - Michael Halpenny
The annual subscription was £1.00 (one pound)

1972 – Fleet trophies were presented: ‘Chase Trophy’ presented by Anthony Kenny; and ‘Flying Fifteen Gun’ presented by Michael Halpenny

1972 – Death of Uffa Fox, aged 74 (1898 - 1972).
1979 – ‘Mid Week Cup’ presented by Kevin Blake

1980 to 1990 – A decade of development and tightening of tolerances to achieve a Standard Hull shape based on the designs of the British yacht designer Roy Windebank. This decade also saw the introduction of exotic fibres in yacht construction such as carbon fibre, kevlar and honeycomb cores of nomex.
1982 – Sinking of ‘Gaffer’ Eric Colin, sailing ‘Gaffer’ (no. 2383), crewed by John McCambridge was racing in May near Dalkey Island, when they broached and filled the boat with water. ‘Gaffer’ could not be bailed out or righted, and just stayed afloat long enough for Eric and John to step aboard a passing cruiser ‘Nuit St. George’. ‘Gaffer’ was never seen again. Tom O'Connor wrote a 24-verse poem about the incident.

1982 – The fleet bank account was opened. Previously fleet money was held by the treasurer, in his/her own bank accounts.

1983 – 6 new boats to the fleet. Jack Roy bought ‘Frankie’, Jerry O'Neill bought 1261 now called ‘Bluebell’. Ray Duggan arrived with 1343 ‘Osprey’. David Algeo arrived with 2130 ‘Folklore II’. Some boats were disqualified from racing due to not meeting the safety standards National Yacht Club invests in an Electric Winch, allowing for the boats to come off the moorings and onto the hard for dry sailing and storage.

1984–1985 – Arrival of the Windibank. The National Yacht Club burnt down in 1984. Also seen was the first appearance of the Windibank hull. ‘Frizby’ (no. 2929) bought by Jack Roy and ‘Mary Foo’ (no. 2924) bought by Jerry O'Neill. ‘An Chuileann’ (no. 2937) owned by Maurice Byrne was bought and listed in 1985. Eric Colin and John McCambridge return to the fleet in ‘Ffootless’ (no. 2619), aptly named by the previous owners of ‘Gaffer’.

1984 – Jack Roy and Mal Nolan came 19th overall in the Worlds held in Kinsale. Dermot Baker, who owned ‘Shillelagh’ (no. 2463) presented the ‘Hells Gate’ trophy for the best boat in Olympic courses.

1985 – Computerised results now available for the Fleet events. Teddy Ryan responsible for introducing the system, with Ward Phillips taking over due to his speciality in computing. Westport SC newly formed, with results showing connections. NYC Regatta very rough, with several boats towed back into the harbour.

1985 – This year marked the sad loss of Noel O'Hare, who had stopped sailing since 1982, but had maintained contact with the fleet. Noel had been awarded title of ‘Mr. Personality of the Fleet’, as well as being a top class sailor. Noel was one of the founder members of the fleet.

1986 – Change of direction, under the Captaincy of Jack ‘Bligh’ Roy, shows introduction of Dry Sailing and Olympic Courses. Training course and lectures were setup and taken very seriously. The day of the ‘light hearted event’ had come to an end. Motivation for doing this was the Irish Championship to be held in the National yacht Club. Gerry Dunleavy and Roger Bannon gave freely of their time for tuning help. records indicate Gerry had been doing this since 1979. Roger Bannon and John Davies sailing in ‘Strange Magic’ (no 3037) won the Irish Championship, with Gerry Dunleavy and David O'Brien in ‘The Real Thing’ (no. 3108) coming in 3rd place. This was the last sailing year for Teddy Ryan, sailing in ‘Little Lady II’ (no, 2292). Teddy wanted to move to something bigger and drier. Heineken sponsored the fleet with £1,700. Roger Bannon's ‘Black Magic’ was exhibited at the boat show

1986 – Hurricane Charlie – 25/26 August 1986 brought Hurricane Charlie to the shores of Ireland. Considerable damage occurred to Dun Laoghaire boats, with 6 Flying Fifteens wrecked on the moorings by loose boats running through them. On the 26th the National Yacht Club slip was littered with bits and pieces of boats.

1986 – Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland (FFAI) was formed, with Jim Rodgers from the North as the first president and Jack Roy as Secretary.

1987 – ‘Ramtaffer trophy’ was presented to the fleet by Roddy and Jill. Roddy had retired from work and was re-locating to Scotland to setup a sailing school. Maurice Byrne (Captain during 1987) threw a Captain's party in his house, of such lavishness, complete with a group of four singers. the incoming captain, Ray Duggan, was seen with a very worried look on his face, and was heard enquiring if the Dubliner's would be expensive to hire for the night.

1987 saw the introduction of the ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’ fleets. The intention was for a fair division of the spoils at the prize giving's. This did not stop the grumblings for some of the people.

1988 – Ray Duggan, Captain and author of the very witty fleet newsletters. Gerry Dunleavy becomes the British National Champion, sailing on the Clyde in ‘The Real Thing’ (no. 3108). His crew was David O'Brien. He went on to sail in the World Championship and achieved 9th place overall. Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club hosted the East Coast Championship. Bray Flying Fifteen fleet started. Work continues on the plans to bring the 1992 World Championship to Ireland. Michael Horgan chaired a committee. The event was to be run by the National Yacht Club and not the Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen fleet. Jack Roy, Mal Nowlan, Paddy Lynch and Martin McCarthy were all heavily involved in planning, publicity, sponsorship and advice.

1990 – Handicap system for Gold/Silver/bronze fleets seemed to work well for championship events.
National Championships held in Westport again, due to the success of the same event the previous year. Heavy weather event was won by Gerry Dunleavy, crewed by Margaret Conway. East Coast Championship, sponsored by Heineken, was another heavy weather event, with Saturday blown out. It also signifies the sinking of another Flying Fifteen in Dublin Bay, by unlike ‘Gaffer’ it was seen again, strewn all over the strand in Sandymount.

1991 – World Championship (in Ireland) just around the corner. Training sessions arranged by special committee under Michael Horgan. Restrictions put in place to avert ‘cheque book’ sailing. Seven qualifying places allocated to Irish Boats

1992 – World Championships held in Ireland. Hosted by the National Yacht Club, the flying fifteen fleet worked hard to organise the event. 75 entrants, some from overseas. Irish National Championships preceded the event.
First Irish boat, sailed by John Lavery (son of Arthur Lavery) came in 20th position. Justin Burke came in 21st position.

1993 – Final introduction of hull measuring templates with reduced tolerances.
1993 – SailPower Marine of WA import the Windebank Mould X and commence production.
1993 – ‘Ffinally’ (no. 3352), sailed by Eric Cooney and Gabriel Greer, turns turtle in Dublin Bay, when hit by a sudden gust. The mast got stuck in mud, with the keel upright in the air. A passing Glen fired off a flare, alerting the rescue helicopter (already out doing drills) to come and rescue the two boys. Eric and Gabriel were pulled to safety and deposited on the East Pier. A Club launch was hi-jacked and the rescue operation was started. ‘Ffinally’ was discovered, upright, and sailing off on it's own through Dalkey Sound. The boat was sailed back single handed by Eric. The only damage done was a bent mast.

1994 – Death of a much loved Jill Hermon, who sailed with Roddy, and also assisted with fleet social activities.

1995 – 25th Anniversary  of the DLFF fleet. ‘Ffaoilean’ (no. 1260), one of the founding boats still in the fleet. Fleet size is 25 boats. ‘Ffangs’ (no. 3495) is the newest boat, owned by Justin Burke. Gerry Dunleavy has just received a brand new Ovington, unnamed or registered at time of writing.

1997 – 50th Anniversary, celebrated with a World Championships in Cowes, UK.

1998 – Final introduction of keel measurement templates with reduced tolerances.
1999 – Twelfth World Championships at Esperance Bay Yacht Club, WA
2001 – Flying Fifteen fleets established in South Australia at Goolwa and Adelaide.
2006 – Flying Fifteen World Championship held in the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire

Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland

There is a space for Irish boating clubs and racing classes to use as their own bulletin board and forum for announcements and discussion. If you want to see a dedicated forum slot for your club or class, click here


Flying Fifteen International

History of the Flying Fifteen

Designed by the legendary Uffa Fox, the 6m (20ft) Flying Fifteen has maintained its reputation as an exciting and competitive two-man racing craft. It provides access to sailing at reasonable prices for men and women from 15 to 75 and beyond.

The most famous Flying Fifteen is “Coweslip” presented to the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present. Uffa Fox and Prince Philip frequently sailed together at Cowes.

The Flying Fifteen has been modernised over the years with Uffa Fox agreeing to changes towards the end of his life to improve the design specification and sail plan. By this time, the class had established itself in a number of countries and when John Calvert-Jones came from Australia and won the UK championships, the stimulus was provided for the move to seek international status. Under the guidance of Tom Ratcliffe, an International Federation of Flying Fifteen Associations was formed by nine countries from four continents. The first world championships were held in Perth, Australia in 1979 and subsequently have alternated between the Northern and Southern hemispheres biennially. The first European Championship took place in Spain in May 2004

(Above history courtesy of Flying Fifteen International website)


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