The Origin of the Flying Fifteen in Australia

In the summer of 1949 I was talking to old club member, Tom Mackie, explaining that I had had enough of cruiser racing, and was considering getting involved in smaller class boat racing, possibly Sharpies.

Tom referred to the latest Yachting World having featured a new design by Uffa Fox, the Flying 15, suggesting that I should try my hand at building one. Uffa had discussed in the article having simplified the design to an extent, to permit amateur construction.

I wrote for the plans and commenced building in the winter of 1949, and completed the boat ready for the 1950-51 season.

The launching took place at R.F.B.Y.C. without keel, attended by a small ceremony.

The boat which was named Serena, sail no. 126. was first raced at R.F.B.Y.C. opening 1950, with the cruiser fleet which was at that time cruisers only, no divisions. The wind was gale force forty odd knots from the North West with rain, and I lost the mast. I remember that Roly Tasker’s was the only boat to finish in the Sharpie fleet, under jib only.

I moved my business activities to Albany for eighteen months in 1952, and raced the boat for two seasons with the mixed bag cruiser fleet, where it was scratch boat and regarded as somewhat of a new fangled celebrity by the locals.

One day in the bar at RFBYC after a race in the latter part of the 1962 season, at which time we were getting eight Flying Fifteens to the line, I suggested casually that we might consider asking the Duke of Edinburgh for a trophy for the Australian Championships, he being an active participant in the class at the time.

We moved to the committee room plus some jugs and had a meeting to consider the matter. We later formed the Australian Association at the Club and wrote in due course to the Duke of Edinburgh requesting a trophy for the Australian Championships.

We received a letter from Buckingham Palace on 17th July 1962 advising that His Royal Highness would be pleased to give a trophy. Read the letter here.

In 1958 I built a new boat of two skins in the cold moulded system, which the skiff were then turning to. This boat called Sheba, sailed with what was then called the A Division cruisers. With a very athletic crewman Ian Johnstone, we sailed the Coventry Reef ocean race, I think 1961, and beat the ocean racers of the combined clubs off the stick, all except for Una Mara. Later, whist still in the Cockburn Sound, we sailed four minutes faster than the fastest Dragon while sailing on their Olympic course. At the same time, I sold the boat to Alec Tregonning, and he won the first Australian Championship in it in 1963.

This was held under RFBYC auspices at Cockburn Sound in conjunction with the Regatta. There were two eastern state entries, Peter Brownbill and Osborne, now Sir Osborne McCutheon.

J.T. (Tally) Hobbs.