Since 2002 there has been a steady increase in the numbers of Flying Fifteens sailing in Shetland. Although the class is relatively new on the local scene, it is well established internationally, being a keelboat of 20 feet overall length (“Flying Fifteen” refers to the boat being 15 feet on the waterline), of somewhat classic lines, and thought by many to be well suited to Shetland conditions.
This season has seen continued growth in the number of Flying Fifteens on the water, and several more have arrived during the 2010 season, which augurs well for yet more to be sailing next year.
It is believed there are now some 14 boats in Shetland all told. Racing is proving to be very close indeed, with usually only seconds separating places. Regular Flying Fifteen class racing, an innovation on the local scene, has been hosted by Lerwick Boating Club (LBC) throughout the 2010 season.
Seven boats have participated and a grand total of 18 races have been sailed. First overall for the season was Aggro (George and Craig Sandison), second was Ffireblade (Kenny Leask and Graham Forrest) with third place going to Ffreedom (James and Mandy Phillips).
Flying Fifteens were also consistently well placed in the dinghy handicap series run by LBC throughout the season, with Ffireblade winning the summer series and coming second in the spring series.
This year saw the Inter-club Regatta offer individual fleet class racing for the first time, in which seven Flying Fifteens took part, as well as a number of Albacores. This looks set to become a regular feature of Inter-club regattas to come.
The group which sails Flying Fifteens is keen to invite others who may be interested to come and try, either skippering or crewing. With that in mind it is hoped to publish dates for informal sailing sessions early next season. The group is also keen to hear of other ideas which would help introduce the class to a wider Shetland public.
If anyone is thinking of joining the Flying Fifteen scene, please note that the local agreement is to race boats belonging to the “silver” fleet only, ie under sail number 3400, in an effort to keep costs down. Competitive boats are regularly for sale in the national sailing magazines, and particularly through the very helpful and informative class website, www.flying15.org.uk Meanwhile, Flying Fifteen sailors are looking forward to the season ahead when a major development will be the move to join the other dinghy sailing fleets on the new staging in the Small Boat Harbour, using the new slip to be incorporated for launching.
The Flying Fifteen sailors wish to express their thanks to the race organisers of LBC for their noble efforts in supporting racing through the season.