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!!


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

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!!!!

Sunday Race Report – September 2nd….!!

First person I meet this morning??  Our hero of Garda – Fleet Captain, John Hanson.  If you weren’t following it, John and Helen did really well at Garda in the Europeans – two top ten places, which would have been three but for a really flukey race when they were lying fifth !!!   Anyway – a stunningly good achievement in 3539  !!!!

Next who do I find – but Trevor Sparrow and 1990 World Champion boat, Willy Wonka!!  It was great to see Trevor sailing his “little” boat again – and teamed up with Mike Clapp too – excellent !!

We had a steady (strength!) 7mph breeze from WSW all morning.  It certianly wasn’t steady in direction and we were getting swings of 20 degrees and more. The Club in general was very quiet and we could only field five teams ourselves today. Lots of absentees, this last weekend before school goes back.

Joe Snowdon was PROing, so it maybe that the Race Team didn’t show. The course was pretty good actually. It was a short square line – about 20 seconds long even when poodling along.  Race one saw Andy and Agness dicing on the line with Howard and Richard (and going the wrong way at the critical moment – ha ha ha ha !!!), but we all got away quite nicely. Howard and Richard went left, but Andy/Agness, Dominic/David did much better to the right hand side and rounded first with The Humes ahead.  This group of three moved away – plenty, plenty of close action between the top two and shouts of “Are you going to do your turns then?” at the top mark for the second time!!  Eventually, Andy and Agness had their way and pulled away to win – the three boats were reasonably close though, with Dominic and David in second, Howard and Richard in third.

Race two might have had a fraction more breeze. Howard and Richard shot out of the pin end, but all five were pretty close up the beat.   Howard though decided he needed the bathroom, so something had to be done !!  3934 stepped on the gas and nipped around the top mark first and opened up a useful lead – not be passed that day. There was plenty going on again between Dominic/David, Andy/Agness and lots of place changing to be had – it was though The Humes who came out ahead in the pair.  Howard’s bathroom dash took 3934 well clear, The Humes second, Andy and Agness third.

Andy and Agness didn’t make the Garda plan, but did manage to get to Poole week – in search of altogether gentler breezes!!  So it blew 25-30 ALL week, didn’t it???!!  With only 21 stone in the boat they had a bit of a ride – and finished ninth of 23 (very impressive turnout for a regatta week). Datchet members, Ian and James Linder came second, I think.  All that on full Goachers has convinced Andy and Agness to go for  sail change – and they are going to try flat-cut P&B next.  I suspect that will suit them really well – we shall see !!!

Sunday 26th August – Bank Holiday and Mervyn Finds The “ON” Switch….!!

Well, heaven knows what Cathy Foster said to him on that coaching weekend, but Mervyn Wright was blisteringly quick today !!  “Best £70 I ever spent!”, said Mervyn after race one…!!

We were welcomed by bright sunshine and around 7-8mph of breeze – shifty as can be, but fantastic looking.  FF Supremo, Trevor Sparrow was OOD and Trevor had to fight to get a Race Team together on Lillibet. David Hume set the course for us (thank you!) and all in all we started a tad late, but it didn’t seem to matter. Being Bank Holiday the Club was quiet as a graveyard – for our fleet we had six boats on the line – two classics, the fabulous silver 3341, and three open boats.

The start line was pretty short and we all crammed our way on for a bustling start for race one (must have needed to stand back on the committee boat…).  The general consensus was to go left. 3934 went right and was never seen again!!  Shify though – wow, really shifty. Mervyn shot away into a really massive lead which he seemed to extend with each leg of the race.  Gradually Howard and Richard got close enough to the Humes to actually see them, but Dominic and David took second and Howard/Richard took third.

Somehow the Datchet Wind God woke up and gave us a F3 going F4 for the second race.  The direction was a little more consistent too. Dominic and David hit the pin right on the gun, and with Howard and Richard hot on the heels went left – and everyone else seemed to go right.  Howard and Richard finally peeled across – presumably drawn by a magnet to the side that failed them last time!! However, at the top mark, Howard and Richard rounded narrowly ahead and stayed there. A right old tussle ensued between Mervyn and the Humes and they were at it right till the final leg, but Mervyn took second and the Humes came in third.

Really must read Mervyn’s notes on the Cathy Foster weekend …. See the “Tuning and Technique” column of the FF Blog….

Datchet Race Report – Sunday July 22nd…..!!

Well, what a day !!!  Blue Water (not blue algae…), crystal clear view of HM Des Res at Windsor, blue skies, warm, and around 7-10mph of breeze !!  Really, really, very nice!!

With the onset of the holidays, the Club was pretty quiet – but we had seven Fifteens on the slip and racing.  Ian Linder would have made it eight – but Ian decided it was a gel coat day!!!  So a good turnout and we were missing quite a few regulars – Mike Firth wasn’t there, neither were Dominic and David Hume, The Stensons, and Midnight Rog.  We did see sails fluttering on 3948 as Chris McLaughlin took a look at this new baby – hopefully we’ll see him afloat soon.

The wind was all over the place and the PRO set a great starboard handed course covering a large proportion of the lake – super!!  That’s what we like!!!

We had a pretty short line, biased to the committee boat end (except when it wasn’t !) and a long beat up to the SW wall.  Race one got away in some style – a bit of overcrowding at the port end !!!  It was a great sight though – as ever, Mark and Toby made a really neat start and pushed the pace coming out of the gate quite near the pin – interesting!! The fleet opened up into two halves – the four at the front pulling away strongly. In that pack we had simply knockout racing – Andy and Agness really pushed the pace looking for their first win in 3911. Also in the pack were Mark and Toby, John and Helen, Howard and Richard. I think we all held the lead at some point – there was just loads and loads going on all the time. The beats were tricky to call, so lots of place changing. As we nipped around the gybe mark for the last time, Andy and Agness were out front. John and Helen were having a proper slugging match with Mark and Toby… and Howard and Richard nipped around the wing close on their heels.  First to go “up” seeking the breeze (and fun) were John/Helen, Mark/Toby – and before long Andy/Agness pushed right too.  Straight into a hole – ha ha ha ha !!!  Howard and Richard nipped left and caught the puff – it was a long way down, but at the bottom mark, Howard/Richard pulled to the line with about two or three boat lengths over Mark and Toby, then quickly we had John/Helen and Andy/Agness.

Race two got under way pretty smartly with the FF’s off first. Steve and Simon and Howard and Richard got heavily embroiled at the pin end with a really nice looking Merlin that was keen on being mashed into matchsticks by keelboats!!  Suddenly there was a call of “tacking” and the Merlin bounced onto port with a death wish.  It took a few moments to extricate from that but both the fifteens put about and headed to the right of the beat – not a good place in general !!!  Mark and Toby were well away – a mere dot!!  To be honest, I couldn’t possibly do much of a race report as we were so far behind, I couldn’t see what was happening. Generally on 3934 we carefully selected our shifts and got nailed every time – not a recovery day!!  Perhaps Cap’n Hanson will let us know how it all went at the front!!

Anyway – a brilliant day’s sailing.  If you weren’t there, you missed a proper treat – summer sailing!!


Race Report – Sunday 15th July…..

Well, the Nationals are nearly here !!  Datchet today was a lovely summer day – blue skies and sunshine (for a change!) and 7-10 kn of breeze.  Really very good and we had nine boats on the slip this morning and that’s without The Humes (vacation I think), Mark (at NSSA with Matt) and Chris McLaughlin’s new boat is still outside the Chandlers.

It’s a bit disappointing, but we had a very short course laid by the PRO using about 20% of the reservoir.  On a gorgeous day like that, it’s a pity not to use the empty acres. The beats and the top reach were especially short – all they had to do was move SW down the lake where it is much wider and probably laid the course to starboard with some long reaches right up the reservoir.

We had a short line, and managed to get ourselves all busy with it.  The fleet was pretty tightly packed and in race one we all fair shot up the beat and about 7 of us reached th top mark more or less at once!!  It got a bit busy and Howard and Richard found themselves doing turns after an incident with Fleet Captain Hanson.  The fleet shot out along the reach with John and Helen just leading from the Linders and the main pack.  Hopward and Richard had a bit of catching up to do obviously (!), and at the gybe mark took to the left and made about 4 places down that reach putting them in third – momentarily!!  The beats were pretty hard to pick today – even Admiral Firth got just one right out of 6 !! There really was lots of overtaking going on – Steve and Simon sailed superbly into third, leaving the rest of us eating wake!!  At the finish I think it was Ian and James, from John and Helen, Steve and Simon then Richard and Howard.

Race two saw a tad more bias on the line, and we all made for the pin.  Result – tool crush !!  A couple of teams had to gybe around and try again – so a fair amount of mayhem and a RIB driver who was far too close!  In this race, John and Helen, Ian and James steadily pulled out to have their own little race – which Ian and James won in the end. There was a whole stack going on behind. Andy and Agness are going ever faster in 3911, yet in this second race there was a bit of calamity at the top mark I think – and they headed for shore. Howard and Richard came in third, but there was a right old scrap during the final reach for fourth between Mervyn/Julien and The Admiral – won admirably by Mervyn and Julien !!!  The Shawyers at it again!!

Race Report – Sunday 20th May – Great Turnout!!

Racing today had nine flying fifteens turn up for a NNW 8 knots with some small gusts.  The PRO did the right thing and used the whole lake :-)).

Race one saw every boat wanting to be 1st over the line.  Ian Linder decided to go back as the pro called for an individual recall which made Mark Firth looking like he had the fleet following.  Only to be told 1/3 up the beat that he was over! (shame ….  ha ha ha ha ha !!)  Mark decided to carry on and took first mark, followed by Andy Clarke and then Ian.   Mark shot a way how ever Andy and crew did so well in the loan boat staying in the top 3 until the last lap.  With mark OCS. Ian took the 1st race John and Helen 2nd and Andy 3rd  in the club boat (with 3588 on the sails). I am not sure the results after that – what I do know is the Stensons had a memory loss and forgot  what side is port and starboard.  Poor old Mervyn came off the worst and is taking his boat away to be fixed.

Race 2. With 8 boats (Mike thought the wind was picking up). Andy 1st the to the top mark in the club boat!!!!!  Followed by Ian, Mark, Mervyn, John, Stensons and the Humes.  The racing for most of the fleet was very close –  all fighting each other and swapping places down to the  bottom mark.   At the bottom mark Ian and son was in the lead ( and we did not see them again).   Mark got up to 2nd place past Andy. One lap on John and Helen got past Andy and set about catching Mark.

On the last lap. John and Helen were trying to catch Mark when, Eric on the rescue boat must have got bored  (again in race two as race one) and at high speed did two loops round John and Helen on the reach!!  John gave eric some feed back and so he set off to ruin someone else’s day!   At this point. Mark’s knot on spinnaker halyard decided to come undone.  This cost him the 2nd place as John and Helen sailed past them on the last reach.  1st Ian   2nd John   3rd mark    4th Andy   5th Humes

See you all next week.  It looks like it could be a warm week so see you on Sunday.


Race Report – Sunday 15th April….

What a brilliant day for racing!!  We had 12-17mph of breeze, bright bright light,  and really plenty of place-changing action…

It was Sprint Racing today – this was as a consequence of having 200 kids (plus 400 parents, 100 siblings, and 33 Motorhomes!) racing a Topper event at the club today…. So the members’ fleet was crammed into one small bit of racecourse down the Club end. Each race lasted just 30 minutes, so in total we probably had slightly more time wrapping and unwrapping boats than we did having fun!!  We really ought raise at the Sailing Committee that if we are going to treat members racing like this, then there should a third/fourth race, or more laps or something, don’t you agree?  I think we deserve more than 60 minutes racing for our fees!!

Anyway, none of that can detract from two gripping little races.  We had a pin bias, and in proper-job breezes we fair powered our way down to the pin end line. Steve and Simon did their trademark “pin end flyer” and barring a bit of shouting from the Humes, I thought it served them well.  You could lay the top mark in two tacks and most of us did – but there were simply huge arcs of breeze up the beats. The Humes picked really well, and at the top it was them first, then I think Steve and Simon, followed by Howard and Richard. Now the reaches were pretty close calls, plus a bit hurried due to their shortness,  and there were good sized slabs of breeze sweeping across the reaches – so it was all systems “go” – just fabulous!! Howard/Richard decided to take no less than two keel inspections which meant dicing with Steve/Simon with a cockpit full of Thames!!   Anyway, we shot around this baby course and eventually Howard/Richard eased past Steve/Simon in the spray.  The final reach was really a bit tight – quite a few opted for two sail reaching which was perhaps a tad faster – it was that sort of wind strength.

Race two kicked off in very similar style – a bit more breeze too!! Bright sunshine and all that spray – it was terrific. This time it was Firth and Firth hit the top mark first – we had all gone left, but “the Wisp” as ever found shifts of his own and put in a very good beat. I think Humes were second round, Howard/Richard third. These three moved ahead of the pack and there was really a fair bit of place changing for such a short race. The shifts were even wilder, but as we took to the final beat, it was The Humes, Howard/Richard and then Firth/Firth.  It’s really not fair having two of them in the same boat, is it??!!  Mike and Mark went right, and the others went left. Not sure what happened but they gifted themselves a really big lead and were well away – no amount of flying down the reaches was going to catch them – they finished with a great win, the Humes and excellent second and Howard/Richard third.