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Home > Regattas > Flying Fifteen Mallorca

Flying Fifteen Mallorca

Ken Dumpleton travelled regularly from his home near Dublin (where he also has a flying fifteen) to sail with us in Mallorca, and was always a competitive sailor, with many enjoyable stories. He still sails from the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland – where last year’s World’s were sailed. 

In his own words…

Ken’s bit

I first started sailing in 1992 (at the age of 42) and my first boat was a flying fifteen. Little did I realise at that time, what fun, excitement and pleasure lay ahead. flying fifteen sailing has taken me all over the world and introduced me to new friends in a wide range of places. Along the way I have experienced some hilarious and exciting moments, brief episodes that are a cause for great amusement even to this day. Not all of them happened to me but here is a taster of some:

“The day the bananas broke free”

As a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the flying fifteen Class the 1997 World Championships were held in Cowes…the home of Uffa Fox (who designed the boat). To my recollection it was the largest single gathering of flying fifteen´s ever. Twelve boats travelled from Ireland (my homeland) with the intention of joining in the fun, which we certainly did!!!.

One or two of our number were featuring regularly at the top of the fleet, while the rest of us popped up (or propped up) the middle and lower orders. One particular boat became involved in an incident which we still speak of many years later, much to the embarrassment of the individual concerned (no need to “name names”, but Alan Dooley will do for now!).

The event itself was held in sunny warm and light conditions, the tide of course playing a huge role in decision making. On the day “the bananas broke free” we were treated to a lovely 10/12 knot breeze which brought everybody to life with nice waves and planing conditions on the reaches… that’s where the problem for Alan started…!

The huge fleet got away cleanly from the only start of the day and headed to the windward mark on an Olympic style course. The usual suspects rounded in the lead bunch, difficult to see from where I was, with the remainder closely – very closely – bunched behind. The boats proceeded off down the first starboard reach heading for the gybe mark. Every inch counts at this stage so there was quite a lot of luffing, shouting and general excitement as we approached the gybe mark. I had a very good view of this as I was in the rearguard having been over the line at the start and sailing like a complete wally!!!

Now as you all know there are certain niceties and rules to be observed at each of the marks, with certain boats taking precedence in rounding them, so positioning and sharp boat handling are essential.

Unfortunately, Alan got only one of these disciplines spot on. Having obtained an inside track in the approach to the gybe mark he was looking really well placed to round ahead of a large group of boats which were stacked up at the mark. 

I should say at this stage that Alan was fastidious about his diet and carried a wide variety of nuts, drinks and fruit on board. These consumables nestled ordinarily in a net under the aft deck of the boat.

Back to the gybe, all seemed to be going well in the churning maelstrom at the mark… twinning line on, jib sheet set, pole back … helm up and around she goes … simple. Oh oh… some over-ripe bananas had managed to break free from the captive net and were now underfoot… Alan´s feet. The gybe was perfectly executed… pole on the new side, crew trimming like blazes – minus his helm who was now attempting to dodge the oncoming fleet whilst perfecting his breaststroke at the same time.

Now sailing a flying fifteen on a 3-sail reach in planing conditions can be great fun… however having somebody to steer is essential. The inevitable happened… bang!!! the boat luffed sharply to the left and collided with a startled Australian helm and crew who up ‘til then had been congratulating themselves as they were sailing over their Irish competitors. With Alan reattached to his boat, both competitors retired to the bar for the rest of the day.

For both of them their event was over for at least another day. Later that night the Ozzie and Alan polished off a bottle of Jamieson while at the same time commencing what became a lifelong bond of friendship.

Alan is still sailing flying fifteen´s in Dun Laoghaire and for the record he called his next boat … BANOFFI. 

Until next month… “A stitch in time… causes chaos”, Ken


By Stephen Babbage