The 75th Anniversary year of the international Flying Fifteen class is proving to be a bumper year. As the curtain falls on a very successful Uffa Fox 50 extravaganza, attention turns to the 2022 European Championships where 71 boats representing the length and breadth of the UK, Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, South Africa and Spain, gathered at one of the spiritual homes of the class, the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club to continue the celebratory year of regattas.
The Solent served up a classic Cowes day with semi-overcast skies, light and shifty breeze and a moderate tidal flow. The course was set up in the busy Bramble Bank area of the Solent between Southampton Water and Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Laying a course in this busy section of water in the height of August is quite a task but the RO set up for two races of around 90 minutes duration.
With some petulant shifts and a slightly nervy fleet not used to a big start line, it took several attempts to get race one under way. On the fifth attempt under the dreaded black flag, race one got started around 1300hrs in a fluctuating soft breeze of 5 - 10 knots.
The pin end of the eventual start was a bit messy and caught out a couple of the top contenders. Steve Goacher and Tim Harper (RWYC) got caught in the mess tangled up with the pin mark leaving them to be one of the last boats to get off the start line. Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader (Hayling Is SC) broke out a strong lead from locals Henry Bagnall and James Downer (Cowes Corinthian YC). The bulk of the fleet chased these two for three windward-leeward legs.
However disappointment for Ian Pinnell crossing the finish line to realise he was one of four boats black flagged. This handed race one victory to Bagnall and Downer. Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado (WYC/HISC) worked hard to take second place and Michael Wilson and Peter Greenhalgh (Isle of Man YC) moved up to third.
The RO re-set the course and the second race was started in a slightly steadier SW breeze of 9 - 11 knots. This start under black flag was exemplary and the fleet was well spread. Andy Mckee and Richard Jones (Dovestone SC/Shotwick Lake SC), led the race from the first mark around a course of two sausages and a triangle to take the win closely followed by Steve Goacher and Tim Harper (Royal Windermere YC), making amends for a bad result in race one. Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado again sailed a sold race to finish on the podium and with their consistency, the early lead in the regatta. Ian Pinnell & Ian Cadwallader recovered from their disappointment in race one to finish 4th in race 2.
Of the visitors, Campbell Alexander and David Herridge from Durban in South Africa sailed a solid day to sit in 10th overall and Phillippa Packer and Dean McAullay from Royal Freshwater Bay YC in Perth, Western Australia sit in 11th overall at the end of the day.
The second day of competition was greeted with drizzle, overcast skies and a light and quite fickle 7 - 12 knots of S/SW breeze. 3 races were scheduled predicting a long day on the water.
After a few attempts race 3 got away sailing a 3 lap course. Andy Mckee & Richard Jones picked up from where they left off with a race win from Andrew Jameson and James Grant (WYC/HISC) joining the podium for the first time. Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett were third.
Race 4 of the regatta was raced in much the same conditions but with some more black flag waving. Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado (HISC) were back to winning ways and Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett were getting some consistency with a second. Third was Mark Nicholson and Steve Culpitt (HISC).
Race 5 followed late in the afternoon when the wind shifted a little causing a course re-shuffle. More black flags and some persistent drizzle. Greg Wells and David Tulloch (HISC) scored their first race win of the regatta. Nigel and Gavin Tullett (Royal Windermere YC) had a great race to finish second and 3rd was Hamish Mackay and Andrew Lawson (RTYC/HISC).
After 5 races Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado increased their overall lead after discarding their worse result to date, a 12th, to top the leader board with 16 points.
Big movers were Andy McKee and Richard Jones, discarding their opening day 22nd and posting a 1, 13, 8 to move from seventh into second with 23 points.
Henry Bagnall and James Downer could not match their first day performance and a 19, 4, 15 saw them drop back to third with 26 points.
In fourth are Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett, now able to drop their BFD, for 28 points. Fifth are Hamish Mackay and Andrew Lawson with 31 pionts and sixth Greg Wells and David Tulloch who won the final race of the day on 33 points.
Top visiting boat is John Lavery and Alan Green from National YC in Dublin who sit in 10th place overall.
Tuesday 23 August, the fleet take a break from the Europeans to sail in a special Class 75th Anniversary Regatta started from the Royal Yacht Squadron. Europeans resumes on Wednesday 24 August.
View full results
by Jonny Fullerton of Regatta Services on behalf of FFI.