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From a nail-biting finale, a fitting conclusion to what felt like a long, hard three-day 12 race regatta that enjoyed winds from 5kts to 18kts Ian Southworth and Team Hamble successfully retained the Quarter Ton Cup on the Solent out of Cowes on Sunday.

The Royal Irish's Niall Dowling finished third overall in Per Elisa.

The veteran crew of Protis held off a sustained, spirited challenge from Louise Morton and her all-girl crew on Bullet who finished runners-up as they also did in 2019 when the event was last contested.

In so doing the crew comprising Southworth, John Santy, Lincoln Redding, Mike Stannard and Led Pritchard fittingly marked the 40th anniversary of their boat’s memorable triumph in the original Quarter Ton Cup in Marseille, France when co-skippered by French sailing legend Bruno Trouble.

Downwind under spinnaker at the 2021 Quarter Ton Cup in CowesDownwind under spinnaker at the 2021 Quarter Ton Cup in Cowes Photo: Paul Wyeth

In 1981 Protis’ original title win in the heyday of the class was secured by Trouble and crew at the end of one of the most epic offshore races of the Quarter Tonners’ long history, a 180 nautical miles passage along the coast to Saint Raphael which finished in a 55-60kts Mistral wind.

Both Protis and her nearest rival Cifraline – the only two boats left in the race of the 21 which started - spent the last night of the race sheltering at anchor before finishing back into Marseille the following afternoon.

Team Hamble had an altogether tamer trial today to secure the Quarter Ton Cup for their second successive time. Southworth was making his name winning GP14 and Enterprise dinghy titles 40 years ago when his boat was giving designer Jacques Fauroux a third consecutive Quarter Ton Cup title.

In the pleasant afternoon sunshine on the lawns of the hosts and organising club The Royal Yacht Squadron, he agreed wholeheartedly with Louise Morton that this was an altogether much tougher, more competitive event than when they were first and second in 2019. Each days saw different teams top the leaderboard and six different crews won races.

Kieran Haywood on Blackfun led at the end of Friday and finished fourth overall just three points off second while Saturday’s leader Catch, sailed by Olivia Dowling was fifth overall. A 1,4,2 finish today gave Niall Dowling and crew on Per Elisa third place on the podium, his best Quarter Ton Cup finish yet.

“Without question this was harder than last time.” Smiled Southworth, his longtime cohort Santy chorused “With all the lead changes from Day 1 to Day 2 and then throughout today, the lead kept changing it was really mixed up all the time and everyone had a chance to do well.”

In today’s patchy SSW’ly breezes clean, quick starts from multiple keelboat and dinghy champion Southworth made the telling difference, aided and abetted by a well seasoned crew some of whom he has sailed with for more than 30 years on J/24s and other small keelboats.

An aerial view of the 2021 Quarter Ton Cup fleet in Cowes Photo: Paul WyethAn aerial view of the 2021 Quarter Ton Cup fleet in Cowes Photo: Paul Wyeth

When Protis could get clear off the start line they were uncatchable in the light winds today, as evidenced by their three wins from the last four starts of the regatta.

“The breeze was quite patchy and you had to stay in it. We had one fantastic pin end start but the breeze just folded and we could not get back.” Southworth reported, “We lost our way yesterday in the stronger breeze but were back into it today.”

Runner up Louise Morton, a three times overall winner who as Class Secretary has been the driving impetus behind the class in recent year enthused: “I am thrilled with second. It is such hard racing and we absolutely sailed our socks off. I just cannot think of what we could have done better. My girls sailed incredibly well and just kept us in it all the time. But really what gives me the greatest amount of pleasure is there being so many different winners. It was such a great regatta, so many different leaders and so many different boats winning races. And it was great to make sure it went down to the last race.”

Morton and her crew led the regatta going into the penultimate race by half a point.

“I do feel we should have stopped after Race 10 though……” she joked with Southworth.

Finishing just one point behind Bullet Niall Dowling’s Per Elisa team had their best day today, when it counted. He said, “I am delighted with third it was a fantastic three days racing, great spirit on the water. The light airs helped us a little but every day we learned a little more, and every leg we learned and we were just getting better as the regatta went on.

Top Corinthian ( no professionals on board) team were Edward White’s mainly family crew on the distinctive orange hulled Joker a 1979 design by Alain Jezequel for famous Dutch racer Fred Imhoff. Tenth overall in the 17 boat fleet, Joker won Race 4 across the finish line to take second place on corrected time and were more consistently up racing in the top half for the fleet.

Bowman White commented, “We are overjoyed it has been eight years of trying and we finally have the boat going a bit better. We have done a lot of practice and racing so it is nice to get a trophy and we are sailing her much better. She is a quirky design, long and tweaky. Over the years we have done all the mods but this time it was the same as when we put her away in a barn for 18 months.”

The Bullet Trophy for the boat achieving the most first places went to Protis which won four times, Peter Morton and crew also collecting the Roger Swinney Trophy for the first boat overall with a handicap TCF of 0.906. The Kemp Plate was awarded to Olivia Anne, the Walking Stick for the oldest bowman in the fleet went to Protis’ Led Pritchard and the Concours d’Elegance award for the best turned out boat was awarded to Duncan Pearce’s Pacifist.

2021 Quarter Ton Cup, Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes

Results after 12 races, one discard

  • 1 Protis, Team Hamble 34.5pts
  • 2 Bullet, Louise Morton 43pts
  • 3 Per Elisa, Niall Dowling 44pts
  • 4 Blackfun, Kieran Hayward 47pts
  • 5 Catch, Olivia Dowling 51.5pts
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Over the next three days on the Solent out of Cowes Ian Southworth and the Team Hamble crew of Protis will do their best to retain the Quarter Ton Cup title that they won on the same waters in 2019, the last time the coveted trophy was raced for.

If they can achieve this and come out top of the white-hot 17-strong fleet that includes three owners who have between them shared the title ten times over the 15 editions contested since the class’s top trophy was rejuvenated back in 2005, overall victory would be an appropriate way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their boat winning a breezy Quarter Ton Cup in Marseille, France.

“Given the chance we would have liked the opportunity to stage a suitable big celebration ashore here but the way things still are that seems unlikely, so meantime we will have to do our best on the water. But it is worth remembering the boat is the youngest of us.” sagely notes Protis’ Led Pritchard, who along with Southworth, Lincoln Redding, John Santy and Mike Stannard dominated the nine race 2019 championship.

“We are so looking forwards to this regatta. Everyone is.” Southworth comments, “We have done all we can, theoretically, but so has everyone else. But the title could go to any one of six boats.”

Recent preparations did not go completely to plan for Protis, which was built for Bruno Trouble as a development of the Jacques Fauroux designs which won the Quarter Ton Cup three times consecutively from 1979. During the recent windy Vice Admiral’s Cup they lost their rudder and had to withdraw and hastily seek a replacement in order to be ready to race this weekend.

Two times winner Sam Laidlaw and crew of BLT laid down a marker when they won the class at the Vice Admiral’s Cup two weekends ago, although the windy conditions were very much to the liking of their boat which is also a beautifully restored former Fauroux Bullit which originally won the Quarter Ton Cup in 1980.

Winds on the Solent are expected to start out light at least for the first couple of days of the event for which the ambitious target is up to four races a day over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Peter Morton and Louise Morton, husband and wife rivals who are longstanding stalwarts of the revived class, have four and three Quarter Ton Cup titles respectively, although Louise’ boat actually won in 2011 when she was sidelined with a broken leg.

Peter ‘Morty’ Morton will race the Gonzalez designed Cote this time. If he were to win it would be his fourth different boat to triumph with, after Espada (Farr) in 2007, Anchor Challenge (Farr) in 2009 and Bullit (1978 Fauroux) in 2012 and 2014. Morty has been making some modifications to Cote over recent weeks and races with Volvo Ocean Race winner Jules Salter, a long time Quarter Tonner fan – with Salter’s two sons Fred 15, and Edward, 18 and Annabel Vose.

“It is just great to have Jules racing with his sons, an experience they will enjoy. This is still the best racing around. It is incredibly close. It is all about how you sail and how you do things and there are so many good boats and crews. It is just too hard to guess who will come out on top. Really there are many boats that have different strengths on different days.” Summarises Peter Morton.

After victories in 2013, 2015 and 2016 Louise Morton will be looking to win for a fourth time. Racing with her very successful Bullet all-female crew comprising Lucy Forester Coles (nee Macgregor), Nicky Walsh (nee Macgregor) Kate Macgregor, Suzy Russell, Colette ichmond (nee Blair) Morton finished runner up to Southworth in 2019 and has been one of the most consistent performers over recent years.

Making its debut after an extensive refit in Cowes will be Duncan Peace’s 1981 Pacifist, a boat he actually designed himself. Peace originally worked with the late Ed Dubois before diverting into different business avenues. He has recently bought the boat he designed and has had it restored with a new deck.

Competition in the Quarter Ton class is extremely close and exacting. With small-time corrections under IRC over a race with a target duration of 45 minutes, winning deltas are usually down to a few seconds here and there. And family rivalries, especially between partners competing on different boats, always add spice to the competition. As well as the Morton household rivalry Niall and Olivia Dowling race Per Elisa and Catch respectively, Andrew Walsh races on Per Elisa while wife Nicky races Bullet, Tom Forrester Coles races on BLT while wife Lucy is also on Bullet. Sam Richmond races Per EIisa and Collette his wife is on Bullet.

“It certainly keeps it all extra interesting.” Smiles Louise Morton.

British Vendée Globe solo racer Pip Hare is also a huge fan of the Quarter Ton Class and has raced at the Quarter Ton Cup since 2013. Despite a tight schedule, heading to Cascais, Portugal where she will join Louis Burton’s team on The Ocean Race Europe, Hare will race today (Friday) on her usual position on Tom Hill’s Belinda.

“It really is the absolute best of British racing. It is scarily close and so much fun I am so sorry not be able to race all of the regatta.” Hare comments.

Racing is being run by the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes with the first race sequence planned for 1025hrs each day and up to 12 races scheduled.

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Mike Daly's Cobh Pirate originally from Cork Harbour adds Irish interest to the pinnacle event of the quarter-ton class season, the Quarter Ton Cup, starts in less than a week, and it’s set to be an open stage with all of the fleet capable of winning races when the competition gets underway 10-12 June.

One entry, in particular, has piqued the interest of sailing enthusiasts, with the return of the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup winning boat Bullit. In the true spirit of the class, Bullit was recently discovered in Tahiti and has been brought back to the UK by the reigning Quarter Ton Cup champion Sam Laidlaw, where it has been through a major refit to restore it to its former glory.

It has been a herculean effort by the refit team, led by Brett Aarons, to get the boat race-ready and we’ll have to wait and see if they can make it to the start line in time.

Two other ‘Bullit’ design Jacques Fauroux quarter tonners will also enter the event; Louise Morton’s all-women’s team Bullet, and Julian Metherell’s Bullit, whose crew includes the youngest bowman in the fleet in 22-year-old Harry Blowers who will compete in his second Quarter Ton Cup.

The fleet is known for the diversity of its competitors with a number of younger crews entering the class each year to take on the old guard as well as compete alongside some big names of the sport on a level playing field.

Amongst the most experienced of the quarter ton competitors is Derek Morland and Tim Rees, both having competed in the first revived Quarter Ton Cup in 2005 as well as many editions since then. This year the duo will race Genie, a boat borrowed from Peter Morton who will be racing Innuendo.

2019 also sees the return of more familiar faces to the line-up with Olivia Dowling in Catch and Sweden’s Rikard Melander in Alice, both set to make a welcome return to the Quarter Ton Cup after being absent for the last few editions.

Three days of inshore racing with nine closely contested windward-leeward races on the Solent are planned for the fleet which is renowned for its intense competition. PRO Stuart Childerley expects to see some tough competition on the water, and believes the pressure will be sustained from start to finish.

“I expect the competition to be very close,” commented Childerley. “The leader will gradually appear as the series progresses. That boat will be the boat that makes the least mistakes and sails the shortest distance at the best speed possible.

“I think the class is special because there’s a broad range of sailing backgrounds amongst the teams and the boats are all different, yet several of the boats in the fleet should have good expectations.”

The fleet will be based at Cowes Yacht Haven with a full racing and social programme planned including the official prize giving on Wednesday evening.

To follow the Quarter Ton Cup, for the full entry list and for the latest results, visit the official website here

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The fifteenth edition of the revived Quarter Ton Cup is less than a month away with more than 20 boats expected on the start line come 10—12 June for what is building up to be an intense and intriguing battle.

Three days of inshore racing with three races a day on the Solent are planned for the fleet which is famed for its intense competition on the water and friendly social scene on shore.

Most of the quarter ton fleet had the chance to shake off their sails and get a taste of the competition that lies in store for them at the Vice Admiral’s Cup held off Cowes last weekend, where an interesting form guide started to emerge. Setting the pace was Louise Morton and her team on Bullet, and if their performance is anything to go by, they will be formidable competitors come the Quarter Ton Cup.

“We were pleased to win the Vice Admiral’s Cup as the team on Aguila have won this event for the last four years,” said Morton, who already has an enviable bag of silverware having won the Quarter Ton Cup in 2015 and 2016. “We are looking forward to the Quarter Ton Cup.”

Morton faced stiff competition over the course of the Vice Admiral's Cup from Ian Southworth’s Protis, with the two trading places at the top of the leaderboard throughout the event. After three days of close tussles around the course, Southworth eventually finished just 1.5 points behind Morton, with Tony Hayward’s Blackfun in third place, but on almost double Southworth’s points.

Having won the Quarter Ton Cup for the last two years, Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila will be the team to beat come match week. Aguila didn’t complete the final day of racing at the Vice Admiral's Cup, and a fifth place finish will surely have left Laidlaw’s team with fire in their bellies.

Joining the Quarter Ton Cup fleet for the first time this season is Sir Keith Mills and his newly acquired Cote, and his teams’ credentials are impressive. Top Musto skiff sailor Andy Tarburton is on the bow, Matt Alvarado, a flying fifteen champion is in charge of trimming, with Jules Cole, a BT Global challenge winner in the pit. Mills and his son Alex, both accomplished sailors with TP52 and Fast40 experience, will take turns on the helm.

Also amongst them is the experienced head of Pete Greenhalgh, a four-times winner of the Extreme Sailing Series, who says the team have learnt a number of valuable lessons from the start of their season, which they will take forward to next month’s Quarter Ton Cup.

“It’s been a fun class to sail in. We have done the Spring Champs and Vice Admiral's and find when it’s windy our boat goes well but have yet to find the upwind speed in the light-medium to be competitive enough to stay anywhere near the front of the fleet,” explained Greenhalgh. "We have a great team and we are looking forward to the Quarter Ton Cup. We are hoping with a few modifications we can get into the top five.”

Rumours in Cowes are that the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup winning boat Bullit which was the second of Jacques Fauroux Quarter Ton winners from that design, has recently been discovered in Tahiti and shipped back to the UK for a major refurbishment by an existing Owner. If this is true, this Quarter Ton Cup will be their first event and will be the fourth ‘Bullit’ design Jacques Fauroux quarter tonner in the Solent.

The uniqueness of the Quarter Ton fleet, especially in 2019, is the diversity of the designers. Last year in a fleet of 22 boats, there were 16 different naval architects represented which is unheard of in modern fleets. Back in their day, so many young naval architects cut their teeth in quarter tonners and with the growth of strict one designs and lack of any level rating box rules in small boats, that opportunity simply does not exist.

As well as celebrating a vast range of designs, the fleet is unique in welcoming a diverse range of competitors from trans-ocean racers to world champions, alongside a handful of previous winners and newcomers to the fleet, making for an exceptional line-up. And with almost every team realistically capable of winning races, we can expect plenty of twists and turns come the first start gun.

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Two Irish boats are in the top ten after the opening day of the 2018 Revival Quarter Ton Cup Regatta, being held off Cowes from 20 to 22 June, got off to a flying start with four cracking races in a steady west-south-westerly breeze of 12-18 knots.

Barry Cunningham's Quest from the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is eighth and Royal Cork's Paul Gibbons' Anchor Challenge is ninth.  A third Irish boat in the 21 boat fleet, Mike Daly's Cobh Pirate from Cork Harbour, is 15th.

Download full results below

Although initially overcast, by the start of race three the sun had broken through and the second half of the day produced classic champagne sailing conditions for the 21 strong fleet. With short windward-leeward courses in the Central Solent, Race Officer Rob Lamb kept the pace on to give his customers plenty of fast, furious and fun competition.

quest quarter tonnerBarry Cunningham's Quest (IRL 508) upwind on the Solent into today's first races of the Quarter Ton Cup Photo: Fiona Brown
There’s something of a ballistics theme to the overall standings at the end of day one, with Louise Morton’s 1978 Fauroux designed Bullet taking three race wins and a seventh to give her a three-point overall lead from Julian Metherell’s 1979 Fauroux designed Bullit, which was victorious in the final race of the day. Bullit is on equal points with Sam Laidlaw’s Rolf Vrolik designed Aquila, who sits third overall on countback alone.

anchor challengeRoyal Cork Olympian Mark Mansfield (second from left) is among the crew of Paul Gibbon's Anchor Challenge Photo: Fiona Brown

Louise and her team put their stamp on the regatta early with a terrific start in race one, which they translated into a handsome lead by the first mark after picking their way cleverly up the right side of the course. Louise’s husband Peter Morton sailing the 1986 McIlraith designed Innuendo, which won the opening race of the 1987 Quarter Ton Cup in Cork, was close on her tail, but an uncharacteristic stumble as they hoisted the kite for the first time saw them spinning out into a classic Chinese gybe and loosing valuable time. With Innuendo out of the running it was Ian Southworth and the Whiskers boys who took second place with Aquila third. After sailing Whisker’s John Santy noted, “We’ve had a fabulous day but it’s incredibly close racing. There are just seconds in it so one slip and you’re out the back door, but as usual we’re loving every minute of it.”

Initially it looked as if Aquila might have the better of Bullet in race two, but a mark rounding misjudgement saw her forced to take a penalty. Bullet went on to win by 35 seconds while Aquila had to be content with second place. Kieran Hayward’s Blackfun, which was launched in 1976 to a Laurie Davidson design and won that year’s Quarter Ton Cup in New Zealand with four straight wins, took third place.

quarter ton cup2Mike Daly's Cobh Pirate (IRL 1392) Photo: Fiona Brown
The sun came out during race three adding that little extra sparkle to an already spectacular day’s racing. Bullet once again ensured she was not only right on the line, but also in clear air – an invaluable commodity in a fleet as tight as this one. She romped home for her third win of the series ahead of Bullit, who took second place by a mere second from Innuendo.

The final race of the day brought slightly lighter conditions and saw Bullet miss her step for the first time in the series. Bullet’s Kate Macgregor explained, “We just missed a few small shifts up the first beat. We managed to gain some places, but it’s so close that it’s hard to fight your way back.” Bullit took full advantage of Bullet’s misfortunes and stormed home to victory from Blackfun with Aquila third, just one second ahead of Pierre Paris’s 1979 Fauroux designed Penguin Playboy.

In the Corinthian Competition for all amateur crews six teams are vying for the victor’s laurels. Pinquin Playboy currently leads Robbie Stewart’s Hellaby, which was designed by Laurie Davidson and finished second to Bullit in the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup in Auckland, by five points with Edward White’s 1979 Jezequel designed Joker in third.

This year’s competition sees the return to the fleet of several old friends including Jan Thirkettle’s delightful Olivia Anne VI, which was built in 1974 to a Peter Norlin design and is a 26’ Quarter Ton version of Norlin’s Scampi Half Ton Cup winner. Jan and her team are no strangers to the Revival Quarter Ton Cup, and after some time off cruising they are delighted to be back on the race course. A second iteration design, still in near original configuration and sailed by a crew of family and friends, they may struggle to challenge their bigger third iteration sisters for the silveware, but that doesn’t stop them enjoying themselves or sailing the boat extremely hard to a creditable 16th overall after four races.

The forecast for the second day of competition anticipates plenty of sunshine and a north-north-westerly breeze in the mid-teens. However, for Friday’s final day conditions are expected to be very light. The Race Committee has confirmed that it hopes to run four more races on day two in case Friday’s light winds limit the number of races possible

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The second day of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup delivered spectacular, though challenging, racing on a glorious day that saw three different race winners and six boats scoring at least one podium result. Sam Laidlaw's Aguila, which initially was scored with a perfect run of second places, appeared to be the most consistent boat on a day that saw many competitors yo-yoing up and down the leaderboard. Download results below.

However, a protest saw Aguila disqualified from the first race and therefore thrust well down the overall results until the discard kicks in. Ian Southworth's Whiskers therefore leads the fleet after the first four races with a score of 10 points, including two race wins, while Tony Hayward's Blackfun is second overall on 13 points. Behind them, Mark Richmond's Cote holds third place with 23 and Royal Cork's Paul Gibbons' Anchor Challenge fourth on 27 points.

The day started with a west north westerly wind of 17-20 knots, which decreased gradually through the afternoon, but there were significantly stronger gusts that produced plenty of the spectacular broaches for which the class is notorious. The class is also renowned for close racing and today proved to be no exception. In race three, for instance, a group of 12 boats crossed the finish in a period of only 65 seconds.

All starts today got away cleanly, with Terence Dinmore's Captain Moonlight and Tom Hill's Belinda looking best placed towards the pin end of the line in the first race. The fleet quickly split between those who continued on starboard tack and those who put in an early tack onto port to gain relief from the adverse tide in the shallow water close to the north shore of the Solent.

Having started in mid-line in clean air, Whiskers was first to round the windward mark, with a clear lead ahead of Blackfun. Given the advantage of being inshore on the beat, it seemed likely that there would be a tendency for boats to overstand the windward mark. However, the fleet consistently underestimated the strength of the tidal stream setting onto the buoy. Suffice to say, not all rounded successfully, including some very well known sailors.

On the first run Whiskers extended her lead over Blackfun, while further back in the fleet others were having fun dealing both with impressive broaches and the challenge of getting the headsail up and the spinnaker down before reaching the bottom mark. Whiskers held her lead to the finish and saved her time to win on corrected time. Blackfun looked as though she was going to be second on the water, but failed to hold off a challenge from Aguila at the end of the run into the finish line, with the latter crossing the line just one second ahead. After Aguila's disqualification in this race at an evening protest hearing, Blackfun rose to second and Anchor Challenge third.

By the fourth race most teams had their starting strategies worked out, but many had failed to take account of changing circumstances. As with the previous two starts the fleet strongly favoured the committee boat end of the line, followed by an early tack towards the tidal relief inshore. Blackfun, Aguila, William McNeil's Illegal and multiple Quarter Ton Cup Champion Peter Morton's Innuendo all favoured this strategy, even at the risk of starting late and moving slowly within a big bunch of boats.

However, race officer Robert Lamb had moved the pin end of the line upwind to encourage competitors away from the committee boat. This allowed others to take advantage of the favourable bias at the pin end, including one boat that crossed the fleet on port tack.

Mark Richmond's Cote, with Land Rover BAR America's Cup sailors Nick Hutton and Paul CJ Campbell-James on board, was best placed among the starboard tack boats and stayed mid-right before tacking onto port, as did Innuendo, who appeared to be tacking more frequently in the many windshifts than the boats that were still determined to make the shallow water. This paid for Innuendo and also for one of the Corinthian entries, Pierre Paris' Pinguin Playboy, which rounded the windward mark in second place behind Cote.

However, a brief squall that hit the fleet on the run with gusts in the upper 20s shook the order up. Boats at both the front and back of the fleet spiralled out of control, one of them appearing to complete a full tack with the spinnaker up. Paul Gibbon's Anchor Challenge was first across the line, 24 seconds ahead of Oliver Ophaus's Bullet. The lower rated Aguila finished 12 seconds later to take second place on corrected time, knocking Bullet down to third.

Four more frenetic 45-minute races are planned for the final day of racing tomorrow, with more gentle conditions of 8-10 knots promised.

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The competitors in the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2016 found themselves sitting right in the centre of a very slow moving low on their final day of racing off Cowes and were forced to watch as the wind went frustratingly round and round in circles. Race Officer Rob Lamb and his team from Royal Yacht Squadron Racing managed to get the fleet underway once, but sadly had to abandon on the first beat as the wind shifted from a 7 knot northerly to a 2 knot southerly. The top Irish boat in the fleet was Royal Cork's Anchor Challenge in sixth. Ben Daly's Cobh Pirate was 13th and Ken Lawless in Cartoon 23rd. Full results downloadable below.

The only members of the assembled company seriously disappointed by that decision were Ian Southworth's Whiskers crew, who had just reached the weather mark a country mile ahead of their nearest rival, and Diarmid de Burgh-Milne in Lacydon Protis who was in second when the abandonment came. The Race Committee persevered shuffling marks around the Solent constantly as breeze sprang up from different directions, but eventually ran out of time at the 14.30 cut off.

With no racing the winner of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2016 was confirmed as Bullit, helmed by owner Louise Morton whose name will now be engraved on the trophy for the fourth time, a record equalled only by her husband Peter Morton. The podium for the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2016 is completed by second placed Blackfun, designed by Laurie Davidson for the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup in Auckland where she finished 8th, helmed this year by 2007 Etchells World Champion Oscar Strugstad who got a late call up to stand in for owner Tony Hayward; and Sam Laidlaw's Aquila, which was designed by Rolf Vrolick, in third. Despite their moral victory in today's aborted race eight Ian Southworth and the Whiskers crew had to be content with the leather medal in fourth place.

Louise was also fulsome in her praise for her all girl crew of Lucy Macgregor, Kate Macgregor, Colette Richmond, Bethan Carden and Annie Lush, most of whom have been sailing with her for some years. "They are a great gang and we have so much fun on the boat and ashore. Annie Lush joined us for the first time this week and has fitted into the crew superbly. Sailing such a great boat, with such a talented crew in a fleet as strong as this is an extraordinary privilege."

Also winning the right to engrave his name on a Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Trophy for the fourth time is Pierre Paris, who once again wins the Corinthian Trophy for amateur crews. Pierre and his crew of Basil Geron, Nicolas Guillou, Rodolphe Veschamp and Marc Le Clerq sail over from France each year to race in the event and are great supporters of the Quarter Ton Class. Penguin Playboy was designed by Tony Castro and is lovingly maintained by Pierre himself. Pierre was typically modest when asked for the secret of their success, giving all the credit to the boat. His crew were determined to point out that Pierre is the reason for their success though, and equally keen to know if they would finally get to keep the trophy now they have won it four times!

In 2015 the Quarter Ton Class lost one of its most ardent supporters, Roger Swinney, who was a founding member of the revival class owning both the David Thomas designed Ayanami and the 1986 McIlraith designed Innuendo. Roger was a true Corinthian sailor and a great friend to everyone in the fleet. In his memory the new Roger Swinney Trophy was presented to the winner of the Low Rating Division. The inaugural winner of the new trophy was Eric Reynolds Magnum Evolution, helmed this year by Piers Hugh Smith and crewed by Rob Gullan, Victoria Alkhurst, her designer Julian Everitt and Eric Reynolds. Runner up in this division was Eric Williams' delightful and diminutive Waarschip designed Love In A Mist, which was built to the first iteration of the Quarter Ton Rule. In third place was George Webb's Flashheart, which was designed by Ed Dubois, another terrific supporter of the class who crossed life's final finish line earlier this year.

As always the camaraderie surrounding the regatta was outstanding and whilst the fleet honoured their champions they also paid tribute to their historic little ships and all the fun they have in them.

"It's been a fantastic regatta and we're thrilled that we weren't last this year" said Lucy Wood of the Jack De Ridder designed Rum Bleu who first came to the event as complete novices and have improved their performance every year. "We just love the event and can't wait to be back next year."

Diarmid de Burgh-Milne of Lacydon Protis was equally effusive saying, "We were so disappointed not to get a race in today. We've only been together as a crew for three days and we've been on a vertical learning curve. It's a brilliant event and we just wanted it to go on for ever."

The regatta closed with the traditional Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Gala Dinner and Prize Giving held at the Royal Yacht Squadron, at which Admiral of the Class and yachting journalist extraordinaire Bob Fisher and double Olympic Gold Medallist and broadcaster Shirley Robertson were guests of honour. As always there were some very special prizes awarded alongside the major trophies.

The Oldest Crew was won by Phil Cook's David Thomas designed Purple Haze which was sailing just four up but had an average crew age of 58. Purple Haze qualifies for both the Corinthian and the Low Rating Divisions where she finished sixth and fifth respectively - not bad for a bunch of old boys!

Initially it looked like there was going to be a dead heat for the Youngest Crew, with Sam Laidlaw's Aquila and Louise Morton's Bullit both declaring an average crew age of 34, but a last minute declaration from Willie McNeill's Illegal crew beat them to it with an average age of just 32.

The Quarter Ton Walking Stick is presented each year to the oldest bowman in the fleet and this year goes to 55-year-old Johan Stolpe, bowman on Rickard Melander's Alice II.

The Marineware Trophy for the Concours d'Elegance is one of the most coveted trophies of the event and this year was won by Sam Laidlaw's Aquila which is one of the prettiest boats in the fleet and is a most deserving winner of this special trophy.

Finally, the Kemp Plate, which is presented in memory of Stephen Kemp who brought Coutts to the Quarter Ton Cup as our title sponsor and is awarded to the boat which in the opinion of the Coutts team most truly represents that certain undefinable something that is the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup, went to Ian Southworth and Led Pritchard of Whiskers who truly represent what the Quarter Tonners are all about as they laugh their way around the course.

Coutts celebrated their tenth year of sponsorship of the event this year and once again they have been the most supportive of sponsors. Each day they and their guests have been out on the water aboard the classic motor yacht Rum Jungle watching the racing and cheering on the sailors. They truly are a most remarkable partner and the entire fleet gratefully acknowledged their contribution in making the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup the huge success it is.

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Louise Morton and Bullit retain their lead at the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup in Cowes by 1.5 points with Oscar Strugstad at the helm of Blackfun moving up into second and Aquila with Sam Laidlaw on the helm in third a further 0.5 points behind Blackfun. Ian Southworth’s Whiskers has dropped down into fourth. Royal Cork's Anchor Challenge stays sixth after seven races sailed and is leading Irish boat. Ben Daly's Cobh Pirate is 13th and Dublin Bay's Cartoon (Ken Lawless) is 23rd. Full results are downloadable below.

After the opening day's blustery conditions, day two of theCup produced a distinct change of pace. Racing was initially postponed for two hours to allow the breeze to fill in and when it did it was accompanied by regular bands of squally rain, plenty of wind shifts and a very strong flood tide. It was certainly a day that gave the navigators and tacticians plenty to think about, and with the breeze constantly up and down the trimmers were also on overtime changing gears.

Fortunately, even steely skies and rain can't dampen the spirits of the Quarter Ton fleet and the 26 boats put on a spectacular display of bow to bow racing over four windward leeward races, races four to seven of the nine race series. After racing Annie Lush, who is trimming aboard Louise Morton's Bullit, summed up the day perfectly saying "It was a great day's racing. With the increasingly strong tide, missing even the smallest shift could cost you places and as a result almost every boat in the fleet had a least one moment of glory. With three different race winners and some incredibly close finishes, including three corrected time dead heats, the regatta is still wide open going into the final day." Asked for the secret of Bullit's success Annie was unequivocal; "Tea and cake! The boys all head to the bar after racing, but we love nothing better than a decent cup of tea and some home-made cake. It was lemon drizzle today and it was delicious!"

In the overall standings Bullit continue to lead the regatta by just 1.5 points. After yesterday's ribbing for broaching five times, Etchells World Champion Oscar Strugstad at the helm of Blackfun clearly had something to prove, putting in the best performance of the day with two wins, a second and a joint fifth (with Richard Fleck's Per Elisa in race five), and jumping from fifth overall into second. Sam Laidlaw and his Aquila crew also sailed very solidly and although they have dropped from second to third overall, they are only half a point behind Blackfun. Ian Southworth's Whiskers found the lighter conditions a little less to their liking and drop down one place to fourth overall, 6.5 points behind Aquila. With two further races remaining to sail on the final day the regatta really will go down to the wire.

The Bullit girls may still be leading but they didn't have it all their own way today. Things got off to a tricky start thanks to an unforced error at the first mark of race four. They were on the final approach on starboard when Ben Daly helming Cobh Pirate pushed his luck just a little too far and barged into the layline on port. Louise was forced to avoid a collision and the strong foul tide dragged her back below the layline. By the time she had extricated herself she had lost five places and went on to finish tenth. Things looked up in races five and six where they finished second and first respectively, but disaster struck again in race seven. They opted to start at the pin end of the line, but ran out of runway and hooked the mark so had to release themselves before they could go round again. Later in the race their jib halyard broke meaning bare headed mark roundings which lost them more valuable time. They finished the race in eleventh place which now becomes their discard.

After an otherwise slightly lacklustre day, including their penalty turns in race four after the incident with Bullit, Cobh Pirate sailed an absolute blinder to win race seven. They spotted a big shift on the second beat and took full advantage, leapfrogging over the main pack and sailing beautifully consistently to hold their corrected time lead all the way to the finish.

In the Corinthian Division Pierre Paris and his team of Frenchmen aboard Pinguin Playboy added three more first places to their score card, making six out of seven wins so far. Their only slip up was in race four where they had to be content with a fourth place. They now lead the Corinthian Division by an impressive 14 points from Simon Smith at the helm of Robbie Stewart's Hellaby. Whilst Pinguin Playboy must be feeling fairly confident of victory in the division the battle for the remaining Corinthian podium places will be fierce. Both on 21 points and just a single point behind Hellaby lie George Webb's Flashheart and Duke Darge in Phoenix with Rob Mclean's Spider Pig one further point back in fifith. This group have enjoyed some fantastic battles already this regatta and so can expect a really good fight for the Corinthian podium too.

Piers Hugh Smith and his crew aboard Magnum Evolution are still leading the Low Rating Division and now have a four point lead over Eric William's Love In A Mist with Flashheart a further eight points back in third. Spider Pig, the lowest rated boat in the regatta, is fourth with Phil Cook's Purple Haze fifth.

The forecast for tomorrow's final day is currently hard to predict. There will be even stronger foul tide and with the possibility of another late start and very light winds all fingers are crossed that Rob Lamb and his Royal Yacht Squadron Racing team can finish the excellent job they started by delivering the two remaining races.


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2016 Marks the tenth anniversary of Coutts' title sponsorship of the revival Quarter Ton Cup Irish boats have been to the fore winning the Corinthian division of the Cup twice in the past five years.

In 2012, George Kenefick's Tiger (1989 Fauroux design) was the winner and in 2014 Cove Sailing Club's 1983 Fauroux Illes Pitiuses sailed by Dominic and Jason Losty also took the Cup. Scroll down for the full list of winners below.

Since it was first run in 2005 the event has gone from strength to strength and Coutts' support since 2007 has been vital in helping to achieve that success.

The Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2016 will be hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, from Wednesday 15 to Friday 17 June. As always the event will combine some of the closest and most exciting inshore racing anywhere in the world with a fun social programme and great class camaraderie.

Another new development for this year's event i s the introduction of an additional class. Class Chairman Peter "Morty" Morton explains the reasoning behind this. "What has occurred over the past few years is that the prototypes and past class winners have been upgraded considerably and in an attempt to encourage the production and older boats back to the event the organisers intend to run a second class provided sufficient numbers enter, known as the cruiser racer class. This will be for boats of a rating of 0.89 and below and for boats such as a GK24, Bolero, Quarto, Farr 727's, Eygthene 24's, Trapper 300. We know there are literally hundreds of those around and hopefully enough of them want to enjoy the regatta. They will be racing for the Roger Swinney Quarter Ton Trophy and it is intended that a round the buoys course will be set for them."

The Quarter Tonners have suffered two sad losses in the past year. Roger Swinney, a founding member of the revived Quarter Ton Class, first with the 1979 David Thomas designed Tsunami, which he renamed Ayanami, and then later with the 1986 McIlraith designed Innuendo, sadly passed away in November. His joie de vivre and love of the Quarter Tonners made him a hugely popular figure with his fellow sailors and he will be much missed.

Another much loved member of the class lost recently is the legendary Espada, a 1980 Bruce Farr design and winner of no less than three Coutts Quarter Ton Cups, which was destroyed in a boatyard fire in January. Morty is working closely with Espada's owner Julian Metherell to find him a replacement in time for the season.

In happier news Robbie Stewart has tracked down and bought Hellaby, the Laurie Davidson design that came second to Bullit in the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup in Auckland. Our photo (courtesy Erle Williams) shows Hellaby on her way to second place at the 1979 Quarter Ton Cup with Johnny Lasher helming, Tony Bouzaid navigating, Erle Williams trimming and Joey Allen on bow

Protis, Bruno Trouble's 1981 Fauroux design which won the QTC in Marseille that year, was found by Morty in Italy and has been bought by Diarmid de Burgh-Milne. She is currently undergoing a full refit at Casse Tete Marine ready for the 2016 season.

Fauroux is very much the designer of the moment when it comes to boats changing hands. Tiger, his design from 1989, has been bought by Tom Daniel. Thomas Prower joins the fleet with his purchase of the 1981 Lancelot. Olly Ophaus has bought Howard Sellars and Mike Till's 1977 Bullet and Jo Roberts has acquired the delightful Menace, designed by Fauroux in 1981.

The fleet is also very much looking forward to welcoming back Dutchman Berry Aarts with a restored Wings, which was built to a Stephen Jones design for the 1978 QTC in Japan.

Revived Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Winners

2005 - Purple Haze (1977 David Thomas design) - Tony Dodd
2006 - Enigma - (1977 Ed Dubois design) - Ed Dubois
2007 - Espada - (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Peter Morton
2008 - Tom Bombadil (1982 Doug Peterson design) - Chris Frost & Kevin George
2009 - Anchor Challenge (1978 Bruce Farr design) - Peter Morton
2010 - Cote (1990 Gonzalez design) - Darren Marston & Olly Ophaus
2011 - Overall - Espada (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Louise Morton
Corinthian - Tiger (1989 Fauroux design) - George Kenefick
2012 - Overall - Bullit - (1978 Fauroux design) - Peter Morton
Corinthian - Tiger (1989 Fauroux design) - George Kenefick
2013 - Overall - Espada - (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Louise Morton
Corinthian - Pinguin Playboy (1979 Fauroux design) - Pierre Paris
2014 - Overall - Bullit (1978 Fauroux design) - Peter Morton
Corinthain - Illes Pitiuses (1983 Fauroux) - Dominic and Jason Losty
2015 - Overall - Bullit (1978 Fauroux design) - Louise Morton
Corinthian - Pinguin Playboy (1979 Fauroux design) Pierre Paris

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#quarterton – Three Irish entries are among the line up for this week's Coutts Quarter Ton Cup at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, in Cowes. IRL 8164 Enigma R Stewart, (N Young & S Smith), IRL 3087 Anchor Challenge (Paul Gibbons) and the renamed 2014 Corinthian champion Illes Pitiuses IRL 1392 Cobh Pirate (Ben Daly) will be in action this morning after yesterday's first races were scrubbed.

Sadly strong winds and big seas stopped racing on the opening day yesterday. The event, which runs from 8 to 11 July, has attracted an entry of 21 boats from across the UK, Ireland and France. At the opening skipper's briefing Race Officer Rob Lamb warned the competitors of the impending strong winds, but declared his intention to run racing if at all possible with a first planned start time of 11.00.

The race committee went afloat at 09.00 and headed straight to the planned race area off Hill Head. Sadly conditions there were extremely rough with strong gusty winds making sailing for the historic and relatively fragile Quarter Tonners impossible. The committee then moved in towards Osborne Bay in the hope of achieving some shelter from the Island, but even there conditions were already marginal. Rob Lamb initially announced a postponement, but after an hour's wait, with gusts well up into the high 30s and the forecasting promising even more wind, the decision was made to hoist AP over A and call off racing for the day.

Whilst disappointed not the sail, the fleet were in agreement with the decision and made the most of the unexpected free day ashore. Whilst some took the opportunity to catch up on work, others created impromptu adventures including the crew of Alice II, whose owner Rickard Melander celebrated his birthday today with a delicious seafood lunch with his team at legendary Island eatery The Hut.

Four teams who perhaps were not disappointed to stay ashore were the four newest crews in the fleet, who had all be presented with a welcome bottle of Mount Gay Rum at last night's welcome reception. Julian Wetherell, new owner of Espada, Ben and Mike Daley who now own Cobh Pirate (the former Illes Pitiuses, winner of last year's Corinthian Quarter Ton Cup), Rob Mclean of Spider Pig and Paul Gibbons, new owner of Anchor Challenge, were all warmly welcomed by the assembled fleet who explained that tradition demand they drink their bottle of Mount Gay there and then.

One team that sadly cannot be here this year is Ian Southworth's Whiskers. The Whiskers crew is as famed for their sailing talent as they are notorious for their lack of organisational and planning skills. Typically they enter the event at the eleventh hour and finish preparing the boat on their way to the first start. So disappointed are they not to be here this year that Whiskers' navigator Lincoln Reading has been in contact to announce they are donating a very special prize for presentation at the final dinner. The prize will be presented to the team who in the opinion of the race committee is the most organised and prepared for the regatta - in other words a boat that is the complete antithesis of Whiskers!

This evening the crews are enjoying a BBQ at the RORC/RCYC's waterside clubhouse where the sailors remain enthusiastic to get racing underway tomorrow. "There's a very nice camaraderie around the event, but equally it's a very competitive fleet. There are probably more than half a dozen boats capable of winning this year." Noted Quarter Ton Class Secretary and past Coutts Quarter Ton Cup champion Louise Morton, who this year is racing FRA7891 Bullit, in which her husband Peter won last year's event.

Race Officer Rob Lamb has confirmed that he intends to run up to four races tomorrow and with lighter winds expected this should be achievable. The forecast anticipates a light North Westerly in the morning,which will swing South West later in the day with the promise of an afternoon sea breeze. A total of nine races are scheduled, three races are required to constitute a series and if six races or more are sailed there will be a single discard. The fleet will race together as one, but prizes will be awarded for three divisions - Open Division (for all yachts), Corinthian Division (open to all amateur crews) and Low Rating Division (for boats with an IRC rating of 0.899 and below. The regatta concludes on Friday.

You can follow the latest news from the event at the Quarter Ton Class Blog and on the RORC Facebook Page. Further information about the event can be found at or by contacting Sailing Secretary Jo Chugg on [email protected] Tel 01983 293581.

Revived Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Winners

2005 - Purple Haze (1977 David Thomas design) - Tony Dodd
2006 - Enigma - (1977 Ed Dubois design) - Ed Dubois
2007 - Espada - (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Peter Morton
2008 - Tom Bombadil (1982 Doug Peterson design) - Chris Frost & Kevin George
2009 - Anchor Challenge (1978 Bruce Farr design) - Peter Morton
2010 - Cote (1990 Gonzalez design) - Darren Marston & Olly Ophaus
2011 - Overall - Espada (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Louise Morton
Corinthian - Tiger (1989 Fauroux design) - George Kenefick
2012 - Overall - Bullit - (1978 Fauroux design) - Peter Morton
Corinthian - Tiger (1989 Fauroux design) - George Kenefick
2013 - Overall - Espada - (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Louise Morton
Corinthian - Pinguin Playboy (1979 Fauroux design) - Pierre Paris
2014 - Overall - Bullit (1978 Fauroux design) - Peter Morton
Corinthain - Illes Pitiuses (1983 Fauroux) - Dominic and Jason Losty


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