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The latest story from Rob Legg - Flying off the handle
The next in the series of Rob's stories is now available on the RL Story page or click here.
Keith Merkley8-Jun-2007    Edit    Delete 
Re: The latest story from Rob Legg - Flying off the handle

A great story and I think it is good that your ‘wee spat’ with Uffa has not been lost to the flying fifteen history books. I totally agree with your findings and the changes you made to your FF fifteen back then. When I looked at a photograph of you racing your flying fifteen No 764 in the national titles in Hobart I realized that your boat had the same big main that I had on my FF (No 734) which I bought and raced in Scotland in the late 60’s. My mainsail was fully cut, with no Cunningham eye and the boat had a whale back foredeck with no breakwater and no self bailers. My boat was a rocket machine in light winds but we were always having trouble handling her and controlling her in the heavy stuff and we did experience quite a few knockdowns. Many times we had to stop racing and use the bailing bucket! It should be also be noted that FF’s were known in those days to make excessive amounts of leeway when going to windward in heavy weather!

There is no doubt that Uffa was a brilliant, eccentric and lateral thinking naval architect who was responsible for the development of many breakthrough boatspeed improvements. He also designed many other quite unique types of yachts and boats. In saying all this it must be remembered that his eccentricities were known to make him a bit difficult to deal with at times and in his obituary when he died in 1972 it was stated in a nice sort of way that Uffa ‘ was not a perfect citizen' .

After Uffa’s successful legal action against the British Flying Fifteen association, I remember being quite annoyed that I had to go and buy a new smaller mainsail, only to be pleasantly surprised when I found my boat much easier to handle and controllable in the heavier winds. She was definitely lighter on the helm when using the Uffa’s original sized and flatter mainsail. I do remember reading somewhere that the Australian FF association refused to comply with the British court case findings so I am not sure when the FF’s here moved back to the smaller main.

I am amazed that no one in the owners association has got round to documenting and publishing all the changes to the National and International class rules over the life span of the Flying Fifteen. I do see that an excellent article has been written on the different hull moulds used over the years and I know that there were rule changes made regarding the rudder and that a new keel shape with a larger lateral area and a wider mounting flange was adopted in 1986.

It must be time for an accurate history on the court case and also the changes made to the class rules over the years? This history could then be placed in the International FF group forum.

With regard to Uffa Fox I just have to quote from his biography “He will be remembered not merely as a yachtsman and designer, but as a writer, philosopher and character the likes of which will never be seen again”.

Alastair Russell10-Jun-2007    Edit    Delete 

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