One evening, fifty years ago, as he lay in his bath at home in Cowes Uffa had a vision of a radical new small boat: "The FLYING FIFTEEN in all her glory marching in triumph before a stiff nor'wester". He rushed from bath to drawing board and put the vision on paper there and then - the hull, the keel, the rudder, the sail plan.
What would Uffa think of his Flying Fifteen now? After fifty years of changing ideas and technologies, the boat that is built and raced now is rather different. In the 1960s aluminium spars, cold moulded hulls and terylene cloth made their impact. In the 1970s GRP hulls became the norm and, in the '80s and '90s, new materials and techniques allowed still further developments to take place.
Uffa had become upset during the 1960s when Fifteens appeared with features not in his original design. The generous measurement tolerances in the original rules were soon being exploited to give more boat speed. Uffa and many of his contemporaries felt strongly that the class was a One Design and that owners should respect that and not push for changes as if it were a restricted class. The class rules had to be tightened up and, to reconcile the designer with the class, compromises were made. The copyright was assigned to the RYA and the class became the National Flying Fifteen. The modern Flying Fifteen may not be exactly like its earlier sisters but in concept it has remained true to Uffa's vision - a fast and exciting keelboat, planing easily and providing great racing. Over 3700 boats have now been built.
Quite early on in the class's history, fleets became established in several parts of the world and in 1997 a cosmopolitan fleet of 180 boats descended on Cowes to celebrate the golden jubilee of the class.
The class now has full international status and the official plans are controlled by ISAF(contact the class association). We do however hold a large number of plans that document the progress of the class until the late 1960s when Uffa relinquished control.
Among the gems are the original 1947 sail plan with the original class name of 'Dainty Duck' (sail symbol a pair of ducks) - would it have been so successful with that name!? - Uffa's plan of how to transport a boat on and in his Humber car and a full size lines plan (20 feet - the ultimate mural!).
There is an account of the flying fifteen in Uffa's book Sailing Boats and also a mention in More Joys of Living.
Length Overall 20'-0'' Length WL 15'-0'' Beam Max 5'-0'' Draught 2'-6'' Sail Area (sq feet) 150 Displacement (lb) 1000
If you are interested in any plans please contact us
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