The Flying Fifteen is a high-performance planing dinghy which is now the most popular one design keel-boat class in the world. (The “fifteen” refers to it’s waterline length.) It is capable of some 14 knots on a reach without the problems arising from capsize or trapeze and is easily transportable and stored. It is arguably the safest, most exciting small yacht available. Mixed crews are common.
The Flying Fifteen was designed in 1947 by the famous British yacht designer Uffa Fox and has since become the largest fixed-keel class in the world with around 4000 boats. The Flying Fifteen has been modernised over the years with Uffa Fox agreeing to changes towards the end of his life to improve the design specification and sail plan. It gained International status in 1978 and the first world championships were held in Perth, Australia in 1979. Subsequent world championships have alternated between the Northern and Southern hemispheres biennially.
Fox originally conceived the design to be built by amateurs and allowed a tolerance of one inch. Nowadays, production fibreglass boats are built to 5 mm tolerance and yachts must weigh more than 305kg. International class management of the “one design” concept has gradually sanctioned the moderate use of modern materials, however, it is acknowledged that differently built boats will perform differently. Accordingly, the class has now been split into three divisions to enable the older yachts to compete. Thus, boats with sail numbers up to 2,700 are usually sailed within the Classic division and yachts with sail numbers ranging between 2,701 and 3,500 are sailed within the Silver fleet division. Early yachts are sometimes referred to as “pre-Wiigybank”, a reference to the fibreglass boats from Graham Wiig which began to dominate N.Z. racing back in the late-1980s.
Flying Fifteen yachts are relatively inexpensive to maintain, combine the stability and safety of a fixed keel yacht with the practicalities of a trailer-sailer and deliver exhilerating performance. Off-the-wind under a three-sail reach, the Flying Fifteen easily planes across the water and is capable of some 14 knots without a trapeze and is extremely responsive to the smallest of sail adjustments that helm and crew continually make. It is well-suited to a wide range of crew weights and can be easily sailed by mixed crews. Flying Fifteens are regarded as relatively easy boats to sail, but ones which can be exceedingly difficult to sail well.
In New Zealand, Flying Fifteen are sailed in Auckland, Christchurch, Napier, Opua, Nelson, Lake Wanaka and Wellington. The last World Championships held in New Zealand took place in Auckland (2005) and the 1994 Worlds were held in Timaru. In 2017 the Worlds returned to New Zealand, hosted by Napier Sailing Club.
|Mast Height||22ft 6in||6.86m|
|Ideal Crew Range||18-28st||145-185kg|