Report by Simon Thompson
Photos © Guy-Christophe Coppel
The Flying 15 fleet have held their first ever World Championships in France. This event attracted 72 entries from across the Flying 15 world with teams representing Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland and of course France itself. The event was won for the third time in a row by the team of Graham Vials and Chris Turner from Royal Lymington Yacht Club with 4 firsts, a second and a sixth (with one discard) beating the nearest contenders Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett from Draycote Water Sailing Club by 8 points.
The first non-British team in 18th place was Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay from the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in Perth, Western Australia. Philippa was also the first female (and female helm) in the event.
The French home team dominated the Silver Fleet results with their champion of the event being Christian Hardy and Thomas Camus of the Yachting Club du Pays de Fontainbleau south of Paris.
The venue of Crozon Morgat on the Crozon Peninsula (which forms the north shore of Douanenez Bay south of Brest) was chosen after the original venue of Hyeres became unavailable. However competitors found anexcellent welcome in this small port town where everything was in walking or cycling distance. This made for a lively post sailing atmosphere every evening as competitors could be found in every restaurant and bar. The event had been publicised extensively in the local shops and tourist material, and all expressed a great satisfaction with the event as a whole.
The warmth of the welcome extended to the event included a reception hosted by the matriarch of the Peugeot family in their holiday "cottage" in the village.
The sailing was held a short distance out of the Morgat harbour by a well-run team from the local club and a Jury team from across Europe.
They soon had the measure of the fleet's tendency to being early at the start line and curbed the enthusiasm with regular I over Z or Black flag starts.
The seas off Morgat, whilst being sheltered from the main effects of the bay opening on to the Atlantic Ocean had a trickycombination of swell and wave which however gave excellent surfing conditions on days when the breeze was strong.
Race day 1 on the Saturday was abandoned without the fleet setting sail due to light winds. The next day saw improved conditions and the fleet undertook two races with honours being shared equally between the ultimate champions and runners up. The third day was again lost but this time due to excessive wind. Day four saw still strong winds of F5+ with gusts but the fleet set out to complete one race of a larger course that provided much material for discussion over a post-race cider and crepes party.
Day five arrived and the winds were this time a more reasonable F3-4 which gave the race office chance to catch up on the schedule by running 2 races to ensure that day 6 could be used to complete the final two races and allow the Australian and Hong Kong teams the whole of the following day to pack their containers.
Graham Vials and Chris Turner won the three races on days 4 and 5 putting them in an all but unassailable lead going into day 6. The lighter wind conditions on day 6 saw a major change in results for many of the competitors with new names at the front; Charles Apthorp and Alan Green (Hayling Island SC/National Yacht Club, Dublin) winning the sixth race and Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown (Parkstone Yacht Club) winning the final race.
The prize giving was shared with the whole town, being held in the main square. At the end of the prize givingthere was a special moment when Greg Wells, as outgoing Flying Fifteen International Commodore and having served two 4 year terms, was presented with the class's Uffa Fox medal for exceptional service to the fleet by his successor Peter Rooke from Perth, Western Australia.