The legendary Uffa Fox designed the Flying Fifteen in England in the 1940s, and his vision of a high performance planing keelboat continues to flourish around the world, thanks to some judicious and intelligent class management. By carefully controlling the use of modern materials, the Fifteen has maintained its exhilarating performance without becoming too expensive to build or maintain.

Development continues and a new jib was introduced on 1st March 2017 the performance is the same, tacking is a little easier and we believe the boat will be more attractive to husband & wife teams.

All changes to the class rules must be approved by all boat owners who are members of a National Flying Fifteen Class Association

We have to go back to the original concept of Uffa Fox in the late 1940’s when small sailing boats were normally built at home by amateurs. The boats were built of timber or marine plywood, around stringers. To enable the boats to measure using this type of construction Uffa allowed a 1 inch tolerance either side of the median plan lines.

As time passed the hulls were made of fibreglass using a mould and this allowed for tighter tolerances. Some builders using this new construction medium exploited the original tolerances and several designs were marketed, some suited to sea conditions and others more adept on inland waters.

In the UK in the late 1970’s & early 80’s, British boat builder and designer Roy Windebank progressively developed about 10 Moulds over a number of years which exploited the use of the hull tolerances to extend the waterline length of the boat. In yacht racing, increasing waterline length means more speed. Many of the boats we are sailing today are based on Roy’s moulds.

In 1990, the late Paul Altmann – who was the Australian measurer, campaigned to have the tolerances tightened to bring the class back to a One Design as per Uffa’s original intention. It took considerable time to persuade the UK fleet, but eventually he was successful and the tolerances were limited to +/- 7mm of the median lines of the hull, at the same time the median being adjusted to take in the most popular new design – the Windebank Mould IX.
In Australia we have 4 distinct groups of boats – which we call:

Mark 1 – Boats built to the original Uffa median plan lines. (now internationally known as a Classics.)
Mark 2 – Boats based on the Mark 1, but with a flatter rocker and increased waterline
Mark 3 – Boats based on the Windebank moulds II to V.
Mark 4 – Boats based on the Windebank moulds IX and X, and Shand Mk 4

Flying Fifteens were first introduced to Australia by Tally Hobbs who built Serena at Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in WA from the original Uffa plans between 1947 – 1950.

Bill Shand started building what we now know as the Mk 1 in 1961/62 the first boat being ffalanger number 550. Approx 200 of these mark 1’s were first measured in Victoria, plus many more would have gone interstate. Following this, several other moulds were produced around Australia, boats being built by Yachting World, Hinckley, Jarvie and Dulmison in NSW, Leader Boats in ACT and Frazer Boats in WA.

Bill Shand then developed a Mark 2 mould which was flatter aft; but only about 20 of these were built.

In the meantime Ian Anderson of Marineworld was building boats in WA from an imported Windebank mould. Several boats were built from this mould including “Supertoy”, “Cockatiel”/”Frivolous”, “Pink Zinc”, “Glass Slipper”, “Tis Irish Luck”, etc.

Seeing how much faster these boats were (due to the extra waterline length) Bill Shand bought the mould from Ian Anderson, and this is what we now know as the Shand Mark 3 or Shandebank. The first one was completed in 1986 being Saturday Matinee, sail number 2973. This mould was developed before the tightening of the tolerances, but already complied with the new requirements.

This mould was retired in 1996 at which time a replacement was built with some subtle changes aft of section 5, and a new deck configuration.  This mould is known as the Shandebank Mk 4, the first boat being “Relience 17” , number 3572.

In the meantime Nigel Peck imported “Ffoxy” which was built by Amos in the UK from the Windebank mould IV. The hull was used as a flop Mould and became the hull design for the Gale & Rimmington boats built by Blue Marine. The first boat was “Molly O” number 3099 built in 1986. Approx 20 were built by G&R and these are also classified as a Mark 3.

This mould has now been taken over by Alan Carson & Andrew Pollard with the boats being built by Craig Ginnivan – “Supertoy Plays”, “Cinderella” and “Band Wagon” are amongst the boats that have been built since the mould went to Bendigo.

Later Grant Alderson of Sailpower Marine in  Western Australia imported the Windebank Mould X design. Over 40 of these boats have been built to date including the 2005 & 2009 World Champion boats “Spot the Difference” and “No Bull”.

Several boats were imported over the years from the UK built by Amos, Copeland, Sheppards, Wyche & Coppock – a typical example is “Cheeky Chic”. A true Windebank built boat is 2988 “Forever Fifteen” from Mould V.

Some boats have been built in New Zealand and 3 are on the Australian register: 3171 “Flagship”, 3526 “Ffirm” and 3527 “No Fools”.

In more recent years Ovington Boats have been the most popular builder in the UK (using Windebank moulds), and due to the high value of the dollar several boats have been imported since 2009. The most common moulds in the UK are the Ovington 9, Ovington 9 Smoothy and the Ovington 10 ( a re-work of the 9 Smoothy). Brett Dingwall was another UK builder using an upgraded Windebank V mould and there are one or two of his boats in  Australia.

In the late 1980’s more than 40 Mark 1 boats were modified by “cutting” the hull at the waterline to bring them more into line with the newer boats. The performance was patchy as typically owners spent their money cutting the boat but they did not upgrade the rest of the equipment especially the sails and spars. A couple of exceptions to this rule are David Meldrum with 2755 “Gunnadoo” who did everything and was very competitive. Graham Lillingston also modified several boats winning both National and W.A titles with “cut” boats. The tightening of the tolerances in 1991 made it impossible to make the boats measure after “cutting” – so this is no longer an option.

The older boats we term as Classics. By definition these are boats with a sail number below 2700 and have not been modified. Some Australian boats with a number over 2700 also qualify due to a quirk in the way numbers were allocated in the past. A definitive list of Classics is available here.

To maintain a market for “in between” boats FFI introduced a “Silver” category and some clubs have built their fleet on Silvers. FFI says that boats between 2701 and 3200 are silvers and this is the cut-off used in FFI Championship events, in Australia FFIA has adopted a cut-off of 3400.

For more information on the development of the Windebank Moulds you can click here  for a summary of conversations between Sarah Flower and Ray Sebo with Roy Windebank.