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Archive film: Amateur building of Flying Fifteens in the 1950s

by Jeremy Arnold, UKFFA Publicity Officer 6 May 2020 04:03 PDT
Members of Kircubbin Sailing Club building their Flying Fifteens in 1955 © UKFFA

Following the recent story featuring vintage footage of Flying Dutchman racing in 1959, readers may also be interested in this even earlier film showing Flying Fifteens being built and sailed by members of Kircubbin Sailing Club on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

The exact date of this film isn't known but Flying Fifteen class records show the boats featured in the film as having been built in 1955.

What is remarkable to the modern-day sailor is how quickly these early boats were bashed-together using basic tools, and how flimsy the construction seems compared to modern craft - but obviously perfectly adequate in the days before kicking straps and high rig tensions, and indeed some of these vintage craft are still around and sailing today.

Strangford Lough remains a hotbed of Flying Fifteen sailing in the 21st Century and SLYC hosted the class National Championships as recently as 2018. It's still possible to build your own Flying Fifteen from plans today incidentally - it certainly doesn't happen as often as it once did, but for instance such a boat (GBR 4034) was built from scratch (including casting the keel) by an amateur builder in Hawaii in 2018, complete with an online blog documenting each step of the process.

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