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Race Report – Sunday 15th March

FF Race Review Sunday 15th March

Sunday morning greeted the club sailors with a 12-15 knot ENE and an icy chill in the air so it was a hardy fleet which put to the water. At least thankfully for the crews the threatened rain held off.

Race 1

The course was set with a castle end start. Once over the start line the tactics saw the lead boats making a course behind the pier towards the windward mark.

From there it’s was a steady reach with kites around the gybe mark and back to the leeward mark. As with the previous weeks a well-planned course was apparent making for some fast laps.

At the windward mark of second lap the standings were as follows

Brett Dingwall and Jonathan Clark (confusingly borrowing Charles’s 3957 sails!) from John Hanson & Helen Hepworth (3954) who were just edging out Dominick and David Hume in (3559) with Stephen Hopson & Robert Simmons 4029, holding off Mike Clapp and Trevor Brant (3427) and Mervyn Wright and George Caspall (3904), nursing a broken kicker.

On the final lap the boats were spread out just a little further with the main battle taking place for 4th and 5th. The pace remained fast with the last lap the quickest of the three.

The race finished in the same order as had been held throughout. With Brett and Jonathan (3957) taking the win from John & Helen (3954) who after a race long tussle just pipped the Humes (3559) for second place.


Race 2

The cloud cover remained 100% but the rain still held off and the wind just dipped a knot or two for the second race.

This time around the racing was even more clinical with Mervyn and George pushing the front three all the way round.

After the first lap it was again Brett and Jonathan (3957) leading from Dominick and David (3559) who were just holding off John and Helen (3954)

The first two laps saw very close racing for 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions. On the return of the second lap the front four displayed different tactics with 3957 & 3954 heading round to the starboard starboard of the tower and 3559 & 3904 heading port of it. The decision of the boats going to starboard paid off with John & Helen 3954, rounding the mark ahead of Dominick & David 3559 but only just! Mervyn & George closely following in 3904

The final leg saw some fast steady racing with the boats finishing in the following order 3957, 3954, 3559, 3904, 4029 and 3427 with four minutes between first and last.


Charles and his various crews currently lead the series from John and Helen leaving one race left of the winter series to decide the final positions.

For last Sunday and series results please use the following link


To re-iterate on that note next weekend will be the last practice run before the Mercedes Open which is the following weekend 28th / 29th March

The event is running a couple of weeks later than last year and we have already had entries from Parkstone and Chew. It would be great to see all the “Fifteen FF’s” in the current series along with visitor entries on the start line a week on Saturday!

So please dust off the covers and get that final series result and practice in before the main event.

Best Regards



Race Report – Sunday 8th March

FF Race Review Sunday 08th March

Race 1

After the weather imposed break and Dinghy Show duties of the previous week it was a welcome return to both Sunday morning racing and warmer weather! A solid fleet of nine FF’s put out to the water along with the rest of the club fleet, guests and the CAT Spitfire series.

With Simon Kneller and Dave Lucas (4024) returning to the club and Mike Firth and Phil Tinsley back in Firths Folly (3888) a tight race was anticipated.

A firm but not too cold westerly was blowing in across the lake. With a prompt start from the Club end, the FF’s divided into two groups each proposing “they” knew the quickest way to the Windward mark with several boats working a starboard tack towards the wall with the rest heading out towards the middle.

The mark was rounded in close procession with Charles Apthorp and Adrian Simpson (3957), Simon and Dave, Mervyn and George (3904) and John and Helen (3954) the front runners.

The wing mark was set to give a close reach (at least to stay upwind of a tower) up to the gybe mark which saw the Kites raised in a way more akin to asymmetrical fleet!

The wind died for the front runners, collapsing the fleet at the gybe mark but with front positions having been held steady some fierce racing was played out for the middle and rear positions.

Mike and Phil battling it out Mike & Ian (3427), Hopson and Utter (4029) and Roger & Richard (3642)

As with the reach, the race team had carefully positioned a tower dead centre of the beat between the mark and the start leaving some tactical decisions for the crews to make.

The run was fairly true downwind giving a split of the fleet to port or starboard.

The final leg was completed in similar fashion to the first with a few gusts picking up in patches.

Another tight beat to the leeward mark with the Kite poles close on the Halyard meant for two fast legs to the finish with 3957 pipping 3954 and 4024 with not more than a boat length between them and the rest of the fleet not far behind.




Race 2

The second race proved to be even closer than the first with all the boats finishing within four minutes this turned into one of the closest of the series and saw some thrilling racing however at the start this didn’t seem the way it was going to go!

Two or three boats had to tack to avoid an early start forcing them to go round before crossing the line.

This didn’t split the fleet too much however and a slight shift and increase in wind brought the crew bottoms someway out over the side as they headed up to the mark. This time all the boats finding a good breeze in the centre or over towards the wall.

Again the race around the mark saw judgement pay off for Charles and Adrian (3957) racing tightly with Simon and Dave (4024).

The boats rounding the windward mark in even closer procession than in race one. This time with the wind further forward a very fast reach to the gybe mark was possible with some strong gusts assisting on the way

Charles and Adrian took the win ahead of Simon and Dave with an increased length of half a boat between the two!

For Sunday’s and the series results please see the following link



The Merc Open is at the end of the month 28th / 29th March it would be great to see the “Fifteen FF’s” in the current series along with visitor entries on the start line and see if we can push the field well beyond last year’s 18 boats.

So with warmer temperatures and two weeks left of the winter series, now is the time to uncover the boats and get the practice in..!!

Best Regards


Datchet Winter Warm Up Final Results

Datchet had nine boats compete this year. The series was a pretty close fought affair. Clear winners were John Hanson and Helen Selden of Datchet. Charles Apthorp and his various crewing partners put in some spectacular results too, but were hampered by missing one Sunday and only a single discard being available. Brett Dingwall and Steve Bartlett came in third.

Click here for the series results

Winter Warm Up – Second Weekend, Feb 15th

FF Race Review Sunday 15th February

Race 1

With the wind not meeting the promised levels all the boats were rigged with slight trepidation. However a steady but pleasant 5-6 knot wind was blowing and a not too disheartened fleet flocked onto the water for some tactical racing (some say luck). It would also be a test of rules knowledge with a procession of converging boats at the marks!

A healthy nine FF’s were rigged along with the rest of the club fleet, guests and the Spitfire catamaran series.

Heading into the North Easterly breeze to start the FF’s headed off on a similar pattern towards the old Honda UK Building (the good thing about Datchet Water – there is a landmark every 30°) on the windward beat all favouring an early starboard tack.

On reaching the windward mark the first three boats rounded in regimental fashion, Charles & David (3957), John & Helen (3954) and Brett & Steve (3875) forming the lead group with Nigel & Ed (3703) and Mervyn & George (3904) and the guys in 4029 battling it out close behind. By this time Richard & Howard (4011) and Mike & Ian (3427) had launched and caught up with Roger & Richard (3642) after sorting out “issues”.

Even with some slight wind shifts both the reach to the gybe mark and what turned out to be the run back to the leeward mark were sailed with kites hoisted. After reaching the leeward mark the competitors spread out with the drop in the wind. Into the third lap and the lead three boats showed their legs in the light winds. Charles & David 3957 taking the first race win ahead Brett & Steve 3875 with competition for places tight right through the pack to the finish.


Race 2

With the wind direction at least holding somewhat steady , a quick turnaround by the race fleet saw the Fifteens off again. The wind at this point was remaining favourable with some promising gusts. Most crews took a short tack from the start and then a long haul up to the windward mark. With the first two clear around the mark, the next four boats came in on different tacks to round the mark in close proximity (White Helmet style).

Again Charles & David had taken an early lead ahead of John & Helen with Nigel and Ed pushing up into the front trio with Mike & Ian 3427 showing good form.

After the first leg the wind unfortunately started to drop off for a slow beat and run, although the melee of boats at the leeward mark and the cats kept the crews on their toes. Charles & David stayed ahead with continuous battles for places through the rest of the pack. The wind then picked up slightly and on the final leg some reprieve was restored to finish off a good morning of competitive sailing with Charles & David taking a double win for the day.

For the day’s results and current series standing go to


With another packed fleet and regulars still to return from hibernation, we’er expecting continue a strong competitive field for the rest of the winter series.

Don’t forget to throw your thoughts in to discussions on various proposals for the club racing formats and please see the club blog for information and volunteer request for the dinghy show at the end of the month.






First Races of the Winter Warm Up Series….!!

FF Race Review Sunday 08th February

Race 1

With eight FF’s rigged along with a good many Handicap, Asymmetric boats and the CAT series a busy Sunday morning of racing was promised. 2 new boats – helmed by Brett Dingwall and Stephen Hopson joined us for the first time this year.

A steady but pleasant 7-8 knot wind would set the pace for a competitive. A very full reservoir (well done Thames!) allowed a relaxed and easy launch on to the water.

Heading off into a westerly breeze to start the FF’s headed off on a familiar pattern towards Windsor castle on the windward beat four on port and four on starboard.

After rounding the mark spinnakers went up and the fleet settled into a regular pattern with John & Helen 3954, Nigel & Ed 3703 and Richard & Howard 4011 jostling for the lead. The boats then gybed on the mark and headed towards the leeward mark. At this point the wind decided to drop away and leave the boats on a slow reach back up towards the windward mark with John & Helen forging ahead.

At this point on the second leg the wind decided to shift somewhere between 90 – 120° (although I did hear 180° in the club house?) to the NNE / NE which left boats on the return leg on a reach and close hauled towards the finish mark!

Most fifteens had rounded for the final leg as the committee boat “shortened course”! So following the additional leg

John & Helen took the win in the first race ahead of Nigel & Ed to second.

Race 2

After an elongated respite while the committee boat viewed where best to re-locate and reset the course the fleet, once it had observed where the committee boat had actually gone dashed up to the new start line for the second race.

The wind by now had picked up to 10-12 knots with stronger gusts of +15 knots promising a more challenging race.

This time with the windward mark towards the club house the tight formation of fifteens headed off together.

Once again the two lead boats from the first race forged a steady leady over the rest of the pack. However the middle group provided an entertaining race maintaining a very close competition over the race.

The race finishing with the results reversed from the first race with Nigel & Ed 3703 taking the win from John & Helen 3954 with a closely packed group following over the line


For the days results and current series standing go to


Next Sunday the winter series continues and it’s good to see the fifteen fleet again out in force with the club racers pitting against the seasoned internationals who have returned for winter series.

So all please dust off the boats and get that practice in for the Mercedes Open next month

Finally not to forget the dinghy show at the end of the month, please see the club or RYA website for further details on that.




Race Report – Sunday 25th January

Datchet race report


3 new crews joined the fun ahead of the Midwinters next Saturday.  Simon Kneller demonstrated true commitment by setting his alarm for 6.30am on a Sunday morning so he and Dave Lucas could rig their boat to get 2 practice races in. They were joined by locals Jeremy Neech and Tim Barnett who are borrowing a loan boat for the event and John Christensen who gave his classic (1083) its first Sunday outing this year.


These three and the rest of the fleet optimistically took to the water, only to see it turn to glass as the wind deserted us.  We were all stunned when the 3 minute gun went off, only to discover, 10 minutes in, that the Race Officer must either work for the Met Office or have divine powers, as the breeze kicked in (building to a staggering Force 4). The racing results were less surprising, with Apthorp & Son and Kneller & Lucas picking up one first and one second place each.


The forecast for next Saturday is currently for champagne conditions – Force 4, gusting 6 with a clear blue sky and a balmy 5 degrees Celsius – which is very promising, given that the Midwinters have been held in snow and a force 8 in the past couple of years,

Winter Series Kicks Off Under Blue Skies…!!

What a glorious day for the first weekend of the Winter Series. Not a cloud in the sky and a cracking breeze. Mervyn Wright/ Trevor Brandt were the race team which took one boat off the water. But the return of 2 family businesses – Apthorp & Son and Linder & Son – after long sojourns more than made for it. Even more water had come back this week and after the frost on the ramp thawed, we were able to get in 2 tight races.

Ian and James Linder won the start in the first race and kept their lead all the way round, stretching the gap by the end. Charles and Charlie Apthorp had a closer tussle with Richard Jones and Howard Shawyer (recently featured on the front cover of FF World!), managing to just hold them off all the way to the end.

The second race featured the same trio finishing in the same order but Apthorp/ Jones made life harder for the Linders. The three were within a couple of boat lengths of each other at the first gybe mark and back up to the top mark. Charles went slightly wider than Ian on the run and nipped in front by the leeward mark – only to be overtaken again by the windward mark, and there they stayed until the end.

4 more weekends of racing like that and the MidWinter Champs will be a smashing event

Happy New Year from Datchet to all

Mervyn Wright

“Winter Regatta”, 21st December – a Bit Blowy….!!

FF Race review “Winter Regatta” Sunday 21st December 2014


For the 3rd Sunday in a row Queen Mother Reservoir was a choppy wash. With a steady 20 knot wind and predicted 30 knot gusts the winter regatta promised to be an entertaining affair.

However a pleasant sight did greet everyone, in addition to the wind we had also had an early Xmas present from Thames Water with increased levels back in the reservoir, making the Fifteen’s slipway easier and a little less crowded than previous weeks.

With Mike Clapp as Race official the courses promised to be interesting and a trapezoid and P course were set for race one and two with a first past the post finish.

Race One

A single start was set so although the FF’s had got their slipway back they had to share the start line.

Richard and Howard in 4011 followed by Roger and Richard in 3642 put off on a starboard beat to the windward mark. Mervyn and Trevor in 3536 preferring a port and then starboard beat to the windward mark

The course then bore off towards two jybe marks with a broad reach to the leeward mark. After the first mark Mervyn and Trevor had nudged ahead of Richard and Howard. Roger and Richard slipped slightly off the pace after a good start due to some close racing with the lasers and asymmetric around the first mark!

Richard and Howard then unfortunately managed to broach on the second gybe mark before quickly recovering and getting back into the race.

The course then passed back through the gate at the committee boat before heading back up to the windward mark.

By this time the wind was approaching it strongest and all the boats battled hard on the beat up to the mark on the subsequent laps.

Mervyn and Trevor took the class win ahead of Richard and Howard who recovered well after their dip.

Race Two

The course was reset for the second race with the second jybe mark being moved in to set more of a P course.

The race started unfortunately for Mervyn and Trevor as Trevor was caught with the boom and took quite a knock. Although no damage was sustained “to Trevor” Mervyn considering the conditions put in denying them the chance of a coveted overall race victory.

The Cat had also put in leaving 10 boats with 12 hardy sailors left out. After a slight calm in the wind just at the end of the first race it picked back up to peak during the second.

A single start was again set with all boats on a beat up to the windward mark. Roger and Richard now had the strange experience of only having one FF in front of them. By now the gusts had really climbed making the beat to the first mark quite difficult with all the boats healing constantly and crews and helms alike pulling hard to flatten the boats.

Both fifteens now made for starboard tack off to the windward mark. Richard and Howard forged ahead of a more tactically aware Roger and Richard who avoided any congestion at the mark.

A fantastic reach to the second gybe mark now saw Richard and Howard pull ahead. The wind was now taking its toll on the lasers who were been picked off one by one but it was a brave effort on their part considering the conditions.

Howard and Richard finished a fantastic second in the race and 3rd overall on the day. Roger and Richard also finishing both races.

Race results can be viewed at


The event was followed up by the Christmas lunch which was welcomingly received by those who had been out on the water and all others that attended.

Next up is the Bottle race Boxing Day, start of the winter series on Sunday 28th and the Pink Elephant race on New Year’s Day.