Fowey FFFFFive – The inside story


The Fowey Sea Championship had passed into British Moth legend as the Open that wasn’t. It was competitive, yes, but very, very laid back. Revived last year, its reputation confirmed, it was enough to entice seventeen British Moth sailors, various family members, and their boats, to overcome the tyranny of distance and long weekend traffic to Cornwall for Fowey FFFFFive 2015.

Fowey had its own peculiarities. Cars had to be left in one car park, boats on the lawn of Fowey library about 500 metres along from the Caffa Mill launching ramp.
Boats had to be launched directly into the water (no pontoons) in competition with the public and the Bodinnick car ferry. No places to leave trollies (solved thanks to Colin Hall’s brilliant diplomacy) and the added hazard of moving boats under power cables meant that the sailors were warmed up well before racing started.

Arriving Friday afternoon, a group of us gathered at Gallants, where we were welcomed warmly and got our first look at the harbour. It looked so enticing. Sunlight, balmy wind. Jaunty little motor boats and water taxis flitting around, lots of big-money yachts.

Saturday found us out on the water, where jaunty little motor boats became jaunty little hazards, and big-money yachts very expensive obstructions. Acclimatized by mini races, we hooked up to mooring bouys in front of Gallants and lunched on pies. Replete, we raced in earnest (and sunshine!), dealing with changeable winds and harbour traffic. Nicola was in fine form, pushing Roger and just coming in behind him for second place. That was as pushed as Roger got all weekend (there is a suspicion that Roger got Fowey going because he handles the conditions so well. Just rumour, honest!). Post racing, we got together at Gallants to relax, enjoyed our sponsors wares; entertained hugely by The Press Gang and their alternate takes on sea shanties.

Sunday, we were meant to sail further out in the bay, but conditions were such that the morning mini races were cancelled. Not that that stopped Mark heading out to sea, or Nicola and Charles taking out 757 for some practice on the river. The rest of us took advantage of the break to have a look around Fowey.

Overcast conditions and sailing between the yachts and fixed moorings meant different sailing, but it all came down to the same result – Roger first with an ever-changing cast for minor placings. Battles mid and back field leant interest, but it was it. Roger – four races, four firsts – was the champion of the Open with one race to go.

Dinner on Sunday was a more formal affair, with a meal at the Royal Fowey Yacht Club. With kids, good food and drink, and fine company, it felt more like family.

Monday’s only race was the longest of the championship. OOD John Burford being determined to get the most out of the harbour, we were sent closer to the harbour mouth, up through the yachts to the Polruan side then back out into open water. Everything looked wild and woolly, like we would get round in record time, but by the second lap, the wind had died and most of the field ended up having a nice old chat as they gave up the search for a decent breeze.

A rush to get off the water, a quick change, and we were ready for the presentation. Roger was overall Champion, Andy second, Colin third. Nicola was Ladies’ Champion, just ahead of Abby. Elaine’s third meant that she and Colin had a matched pair.

A brief respite, then THE social event of the Fowey calendar – bowties and cocktails at Stepaside. Everyone got into the party spirit, with ties on interesting bodily locations. The hosts decided to go further and swap sexes – Roger, Mark, and Richard dressed to the nines (manicures and pedicures, no less); Mandy and Sam donning cowboy garb.

Thanks have to go out to our race crew . Couldn’t have enjoyed it without you.

The sailors were unanimous – Fowey FFFFFive was a great success. Now, the wait is on for next year’s championship. One year never seemed so long!

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But Fowey FFFFFive is not just about the sailing. Families form part of the group and a special effort was made to make the children welcome. With five of them from 2 ½ years old upwards. They had their own challenges. They each had to paint a picture of John Burford, and between them they painted plates that became the prizes for the winners of the Championships. If that was all it would have kept the odd adult happy but no they had crabbing competitions for the most crabs and the largest crab. On the final day they even had to go round the town to do a treasure hunt, trying to find plastic ducks in shop windows.