Sunday Racing – February 10th ….!!

Well, if you set aside the freezing temperatures, continual driving rain, the threat of snow – then conditions were quite seductive at Datchet today. The breeze was a lovely 12-15mph, with the occasional fun gust on top – plus with Charles racing, you didn’t even have to remember the course (which was pretty accurately laid by the way!). We had five boats on the slip, but only three boats finished race one.

The line was pretty square and the fleet got out of the gate in pretty much the same order that they finished. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t a whole bundle of fun going on between John and Helen, and Howard and Richard for second place.  At the three sail reaching finish there was half a second between them.

Funnily enough, race two went the same way – with a tussle for second right at the last few metres. Great fun!!  However, John and Helen got it both times!!

Datchet Winter Warm Up Kicks Off….!!

The 2013 Winter Warm Up kicked off today in pretty frothy conditions!  For the second week running, stonking great slabs of westerly breeze swept the race course.  Bit chilly (3 degrees!) but we had eight teams race.

Following Mervyn’s dramatic man overboard last week, this week just after launching it was Richard who went clean over the side !!!  And all this before we had even started race one. And it was cold in there, I can tell you!!!

The PRO set a pretty long line, but the length wasn’t needed as he set a strong committee boat bias. Ex World Champs, Charles Apthorp and Dave Rickards set the pace and built out a handsome lead. John and Helen raced a stormer to come in second, Mervyn Wright having cleansed his soul during his dip last week, sailed his pants off to come in third!!!

The breeze pepped up a couple of notches between races – wind guru had predicted 31 knot gusts…. and may well have been right – well, into the twenties anyway and they were swerving all over the place too.  We were fair storming along!!  The 3 sail reaches were absolute zingers – like being in a frothing machine… especially the reach to the finish!!  Charles and David took the gun again, John and Helen were again second despite Richard and Howard trying to sink them at one point. Third were Ian and James Linder.

So a really great day out – plus we had two enquiries from potential new fleet members. Excellent!!

Click here for the Club Results Board

A Datchet Blast – Racing on Sunday 30th December ….!!

Did you miss today??  Cracking racing we had…!!

Half a dozen fifteens turned up the day before New Year’s Eve in an otherwise pretty empty Club!!  We had 18-32mph showing on the wind indicator – it was very breezy as we rigged, then dropped a tad for launching then pepped up again – perfect really!!

Race Officer, Julien Shawyer (winner of the FF Richard Hughes Regatta 2009!) set a cracking course using the full size of the reservoir – beats the full length of the reservoir and the laying of the reaches was just superbly judged ….and the run was dead true.

The fleet got out of the square line in prompt order for race one. The committee boat end seemed pretty popular but first to leap up the beat were Steve and Simon off the pin end.  They just squeezed ahead at the top mark from Mark and Toby, Howard and Richard, Ian and James – and I think Andrew and Tom were right in there too.  Well, we all hoisted and shot off down that reach in great clouds of spray – fabulous, it was!  At the wing mark, Steve and Simon had spinnaker problems in the gybe, letting through the gang led by Mark and Toby.  Well, that next reach left us all pretty speechless and seemed unending!!  Hugely fast, with a big gap opening up between the front two and the rest.  At the start of the second beat, Mark and Toby broke something vital and popped ashore for a cuppa. (They are not shown in the results -…..”did you sign on?!!” – ha ha ha ha !!!!!!)    The Linders went left and Howard and Richard up the middle.  It was one of those days where left or right seemed to pay but the middle was bad!!  Ian and James built out a super lead….

Up the next beat, Howard and Richard’s rig tension let go, popping a shroud pin and brought them to a halt for a minute or so sorting that out (nice weather for it!) – and allowing the fleet to catch right up!!!  However, positions held with Ian and James miles ahead, then Howard and Richard and Mervyn and Mike chomping at their transom in third.

Pretty exhilarating, exhausting stuff – so then we had another one!!!   Again Steve and Simon played a belter off the pin and picked a lovely arc of wind up the first leg.  I think Andrew and Tom rounded second, then Howard/Richard, Ian/James.  Once more the reaching leg was a corker with plenty of high speed action  – Steve/Simon scooted round the wing mark just ahead….. and immediately got snarled again!! Ho ho !!! Heaven help us if that boat ever gets sorted !!!….. ha ha ha ha !! (Simon was very unhappy – let me tell you!!)  Ian and James grabbed a late overlap on Howard and Richard and basically the three boats tumbled round the wing mark in close proximity.   At this point, I think Ian and James promptly broached in a gust letting Howard/Richard scream through to the front. What a reach that was!!  Anyway the top 3 built out a lead of Howard/Richard, Ian/James, Mervyn/Mike (going very quickly upwind I thought – get some beef on the rail in those conditions and it really helps!!!)  Ian and James grabbed the lead and we did hurtle round the top mark – going down the run Ian and James went left… however, windex-less Howard/Richard went right and blasted into great slabs of breeze –  building a decisive and exciting/exhausting lead causing them to miss the “Shorten” signal and go for the drop at the bottom – Argghhhh!!   Ian and James doing about double speed closed in really fast in the push for the line….  But at the last minute a gust hit in and saved the day’s bacon – Howard/Richard took it under two sails by just a few seconds and for a moment it looked like Ian/James were going to roll it on the line!!  Mervyn and Mike brought up third again!!

Full results are posted – click the “Last Sunday Results” button to the right of this page.


Postscript – In a decade or so, I’ve only ever known Howard switch on the spinnaker sheet ratchets twice… And today was the second time! Says it all about those three sail reaches!!

More days like that would do….

Datchet Racin’ and Wrappin’ – Sunday 23rd December, 2013 Winter Series Kick-Off …..!

First Races of the Datchet 2013 Winter Series were held today – fantastic wind today (force 4 ish) and though only 3 boats were given passes from wrapping Christmas presents, we still had some tight racing on a nice big course.  The Linders, the Wilsons and Mervyn Wright/ Mike Clapp kept trading places up the first 2 beats in both races but Ian managed to pull away on the runs in both races and once clear, he kept on going.  The Wilsons secured a good second place in the first race with Mervyn/ Mike pipping them by inches in the second race.  It was really gratifying to hear the other classes commenting about the tightness of the FF racing in the clubhouse afterwards.  If the wind stays like this for the Midwinters and Winter Warm Up series, we can all afford to have an extra mince pie at Christmas.


Season’s Greetings to all from the Datchet Flying Fifteen fleet

Mervyn Wright

Fleet Cap’n

DWSC Winter Regatta … And Christmas Lunch…!!

Surprise, Surprise – a brilliant blue sky day !!  We all went afloat rather over dressed as it turns out – we had up to eleven degrees!! Despite the closeness to Christmas, we had six FFs racing today.  The Admiral is confined to his bathroom, and the VC to his bed. We did though see Steve Bell in 3827, plus most of the regular racers!

The Club decided to make it the Winter Regatta followed by Christmas lunch!  Sorry to be a kill joy, but speaking only for myself I can’t get properly excited by single handicap starts….with Cats and Optimists… around a “P” course, with the gate 3/4 of the way up the beat  – and the reach and run were difficult to set and turned out to be a bit straight, so we sailed triangles more or less.  Oh dear – sorry!!

The mixed fleet is very problematic…. i.e. new hazards!!…  and amongst other stories we got carried up a reach by a couple of well meaning Hurricane’s when lying second FF, so we were a bit miffed – mainly I find that the race format of which the end is unknown (until the ‘S’ goes up)  is a bit uninspiring somehow. It’s like musical chairs games at school – you go round and round till the music stops – and then, well, that’s it!!  Anyway – enough moaning about all that !!  We had a good time in the sun,  with great friends – plus terrific news, Mark and Toby won the regatta !! FF’s got 1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 12th out of 41 starters!!   All in all, the FFs showed very well – you can see the results by clicking here.

Talking of starters, at lunch, where the quantities were ginormous – the Commodore in his Santa Hat was keen to remind us that there’s racing on 23rd, 30th and 31st…. Hurrah!!

Autumn Series Results are Posted…….

The Club have posted the autumn results today.  Click here to see them .

We had a great 13 boats in the series and our very worthy winners are Ian and James  Linder!!  We had three teams winning races, so they didn’t get it all their own way! The first three teams were separated by just four points, so there’s plenty “going on” !!!

Roger may have some adjustments to make to our official fleet results – we’ll see when he publishes!!



Datchet Racing – Sunday 2nd December….!!

Thick frost, or maybe even snow, on the covers this morning!!! Eight boats on the slip, and seven raced – so that’s not including our fleet captain and the Admiral, both not present!!  I also saw Simon Cavey in the boat park who has packed his summer boat away and should be racing with us in January. The Stensons and the Humes also took the duvet option!!  Roger was not there either, neither was Trevor. So – good turnout considering!!

It was bright blue sky and about one degree, or was it minus one?!!  We had around 6-7mph of breeze – Mervyn told me that I missed force 4-5 last week – bother!! Anyway – it was a pretty day, with a fair amount of aggressive racing going on!!

Race one got out of the pretty short gate into a shifty westerly. We had a fair bit of jostling, and at the pin end at least, Howard and Richard got  a good one.  However, at the top mark, it was Andy and Agness starting from up the committee boat end that set the pace – then Howard/Richard and then I think the Linders – though we were all a tad bunched up.  During the race, the first two boats pulled away a little, but there was a fair amount of fighting going on in the pack – all very close it was.  Into the last triangle the positions held, but Andy/Agness went right on the first reach. Howard/Richard sailed deeper, then suddenly there was the gybe at the bottom end and Howard/Richard just slipped around ahead and held it till the finish.  (Oh dear  🙂 , Agness….!!)

Race two was a different kettle of fish. The pin got everyone’s attention and was pretty crowded. We got away though, and the fleet split left and right…. now going right didn’t seem to have the edge for this (newly placed) windward mark.  The Linders slipped away down that first reach going over the top of the bunch,  but Steven and Nigel were really right in there.. Plenty of scrapping going on behind that, I can tell you!!  About four boats abeam took the wing mark, Howard and Richard on the inside, overshadowed with little motion managed to brush the mark with the spinnaker. Rounding in third, by the time they had done a turn, they were fifth!!

Come the sausage leg, the pack was still tightly packed. Mervyn and Mike sailing absolutely superbly, put in a complete stormer down the left hand side and passed the whole bunch!!   Andy/Agness, Howard/Richard tried the right and got beached basically. By this time, the Linders had a handsome lead.

Last funny thing?? OK – remember race one, final reaches. Well again, Andy and Agness slipped off to the right (lying about fifth I think) with Howard/Richard in pursuit…. and sailing deeper. We get to the bottom of the leg, both boats gybe and “it” happens again!!! – Howard and Richard slipped past in exactly the same spot!!!!  Ha ha ha ha !!!  (we felt we had to apologise to Agness afterwards!!)

Come cover up time, that frost on the cover upon closer inspection really did look like snow…..

Sunday Racing 28th October – British Summer Time Ends…!!!

End of Summer Time – you’re not kidding !!  Saturday was gusting 30knots – no such luck today – we probably had 7-10 and pretty cool temperatures to go with it!! There was talk of sleet on Saturday and flakes of snow on the covers saturday morning!!  I wore all my available thermal layers… and a dry suit!! Nine boats on the slip though and really challenging races.

David Hume was berating me in the bar for not writing much lately, and in all honesty today is going to be really difficult to record.  The Club Results are not posted and from where we were I couldn’t see everything that was going on – and there was lots of it!!

Race one got out of quite a short gate, biased at the pin. Andy and Agness pushing Howard and Richard up so hard they were both over….. and picking the way up the beat was not so easy !  The wind was meant to veer mid morning, so there was a tendency to get to the right. After much criss crossing on the beat, Ian and James popped around first – and by the way were never seen again (!) – then Mark and Toby, then Howard and Richard.  The fleet was all very close in fact.

The second lap was quite the undoing in 4011, and Howard and Richard found themselves the wrong side of lots of things, slipping to around 6th. On the run, and without their second windex (first one snapped at the clip, and second one blown off last week!) Howard and  Richard sailed too low….Andy and Agness were sailing for their lives and did really well, that great pink kite dragging their flimsy weight down the run at a great lick  – fantastic in this stuff!!  At the finish, I’m really not sure, but I think it was Ian and James by miles, then Mark/Toby and Andy/Agness or maybe it was John and Helen!! We shall see when the results are published.

For race two, the wind veer arrived – the line was really square and even so I think we may have had somebody over at the start.  We took to the pin again, but still the left side wasn’t too brilliant – Ian and James did the same. Mark and Toby picked their way up the first beat just superbly (must be the magic gust-spotting sunglasses!) and it was their turn to be away and gone! Plenty of scrapping in the pack behind.  Sailing really nicely  in 3703 were Stephen Hopson and Nigel King, who carved out a very nice lead over the general pack.  By the third round, Howard and Richard zipped up the beat and popped out of the front of the pack… and set about chasing Stephen and Nigel.  The final broad reach/dead run was pretty nail biting stuff.  3703 in second, edged slightly too far to the left perhaps and gave themselves a double gybe to make the line.  This was just enough to let Howard and Richard squeeze through and unreasonably grab second place by around a third of a length….

“How’s it going aboard 4011?”, we’ve been asked a few times. Well, windex-less today which flummaxed our broad reaches, we just fitted our third wind indicator in three weeks – after 20 years of never losing one, we are headed for ‘best UK hawk customer’ status.  Peter B in Purple Marine cannot believe his luck – though we notice that he has a stock of about two dozen hawks, which is a bit suspicious!!  We’re getting pretty adept at doing mast tip stuff from the crows nest at the Club – not for vertigo sufferers!  We tried backing off some rig tension in the second race today, which seemed to help quite a bit. Of course, we all want to know if the carbon makes a difference to anything but the price, don’t we??  Well, we’ve only had it in the breeze for a few moments since we had it – intuitively it feels like it might accelerate slightly better in the puffs, but until you are alongside someone, you can’t really tell, can you??  If you’ve had a peek, we’ve gone for a flat top console with all the gubbins hidden away. It actually works much better than I expected – which is to say it seems to work just fine.  I cannot imagine why it isn’t more common.  The jibsheet setup is a big improvement too.  The other thing you’ll notice is that the floor panels in the cockpit are not grey painted.  It’s a shame I know – looks more like bathtub than ever, but that’s a kilo of paint saved apparently and it shows when you go and see how much lead we are carrying.  And “yes”, I also assume the sexy white padded toestraps will go grey in time!!  And “no”, we haven’t got round to getting the RYA race certificate yet!!!!

Race Report – Rain Sodden Sunday …!! (23rd Sept)

I really have to say now….. what a horrible day!!  It didn’t stop raining from 10am onwards.  Everything soaked through !!  Not warm either – like a March day almost.

Another new member, Emma Bunting, an experienced Fifteener watched and made launching notes from the shore – ready for her first launching. The water level is down to just below the first knuckle. but there was so much rain today you have to just hope it comes straight back up. As David Hume points out, it’s odd that it stayed high till the last day of the Olympics and then fell like a stone.  We look forward to seeing Emma launch her new boat soon.

We had six fifteens – some notable absentees.  I think Mike and Phil had the woodentop away somewhere, then no Midnight Rog, no Stensons, Ian Linder was on Race Officer duty, no Fleet Captain Hanson either.  Come on, you lot !!!!

Admiral Linder and the race team set a short but very square line with a decent beat right up the lake. Starboard handed made a nice change!  Race one tore out of the gate – I thought there might have been a recall as all really nailed it. Andy and Agness nipped out of the committee boat end quickly followed by Howard and Richard.  Going left turned out to be a mortal sin though (and it was shifty!!) and Mark and Toby hotly pursued by the Humes went right to devastating effect.

Andrew and Tom Wilson have bought the Millars boat and were racing it for the first time today  – they were really cracking on in this light breeze. The fleet started to string out which is a shame – Dominic and David had a really good go at grabbing the lead, but in the end it was Mark/Toby, Dominic/David then Howard/Richard.

For race two the skies threatened more, and the breeze did step up for a while – but turned out to be full of holes. We had a couple of bursts of three sail planing which was warmly received!   Mark/Toby found the way uphill again, and this time Mervyn/Dave were the chase boat – with Howard and Richard third again. Behind them there was a right old to-do going on with lots of action everywhere.  Quite suddenly near the top of the course Mervyn/Dave caught a buoy and snared the rudder on the mooring line, just as they were sailing quite brilliantly …..  ha ha ha ha ha !!!  What a shame….  ha ha ha ha ha !!!!   So Howard/Richard slipped into second…..  The main pack, then including Mervyn and Dave, had some sorting to do.  It was Dominic and David that emerged with an edge to take third.

Sunday Race Report – 9th September….!!

6 boats turned up for a day of 2 halves.  We arrived to see an extremely flat reservoir and a pontoon draped over the launching ramp – stranded by a drop in water level – so we launched in front of the clubhouse which was a great reminder of the benefits of the normal setup.  There were some new partnerships for the day with Cap’n Hanson and Andy Murphy combining their Garda experience; Trevor Sparrow and Mike Clapp in Willie Wonka; and Mervyn joined by potential newcomer Russell Griffiths.  Chris McLaughlin was there too in his new boat. The other stalwarts were Andy and Agness, fresh back from Poole Week, the Humes and John Watling.

After a short wait, the  wind trickled in for a first race of ‘miss the holes’ which was won by Andy and Agness, followed by the Humes and the Italian exiles.  The wind filled in between races to the 3-4 that had been predicted for earlier and we had a storming second race with three laps – including a great white sail fetch – the whole lot taking about as long as the first lap in race 1.  Andy and Agness pulled away again for a second clear win – much to Agness’s excitement – followed by the Italians and the Humes