Class Two is certainly heating up and expanding this year writes Dave Cullen, Skipper of championship winning half–tonner Checkmate XV. The quality of the fleet must make it one of the most competitive with boats ranging from €15k to €150k all in with a fighting chance of the podium.
At the bottom of the rating band, Sigma 33s make up the numbers and the top end is dominated by J97s and Elan 333s.
Such are the numbers that a number of boats might find themselves unhappy participants in Class One which happened in Sovereigns Cup two years ago.
The fleet is diverse and includes a sizeable X302 fleet from Howth YC including the stalwart podium winner DUX, Maximus and Viking to name but a few.
The Half Ton class is formidable and apart from the locals of Checkmate XV, Harmony, King One and The Big Picture, visiting boats planning on basing campaigns here include Nigel Biggs latest Checkmate XVIII ex Dick Dastardly, Paul Wayte from Swansea's HB31 Headhunter and the highly optimised Miss Whiplash returns to Dublin owned by Paul Pullen visiting from Swansea. Demolition from Falmouth is also likely to appear. George Radley adds his latest 'half' Cortegada to the pile of quality competitors.
Throw in DB1s, J80s, Corby 25 & 26s and the start line really shapes up with a sharp competitive fleet.
It's easy to predict the half tonners as dominating with light to medium conditions suit them for sure. The same applies with the Corbys. Throw in an extra few knots and the X302s pick up their heels as do the Sigma 33s which are never too far behind. Movistar Blue and Lambay Rules like a breeze too so the field is really wide open.
On Dublin Bay, there will be a reported 19 boats in this year's DBSC Cruisers two fleet boosted by eight Sigma 33s who join the division.
As to predictions, any of the boats in the class can win but need to arrive on the line in good shape and well prepared. Rub your hand over the bum of any of the Class leaders and you will see the efforts put in as the best winning ingredient for race wins is boat speed.
I think a prediction is futile without a weather forecast so I would say for lighter traditional Dublin summer conditions, any of the half tonners or the Corby 25 will feature in a windward–leeward race, Lambay Rules (J97) prefers a reach round the cans races whilst a well sailed Sigma 33 has a real chance if they can stop the mighty Dux in breezy conditions.
Having answered the question like a politician would, if it was predictable none of us would bother, so place your bets and see how it fared out in October. I'll put a tenner on Biggsy though!
Dave Cullen of Howth Yacht Club is Skipper of Half–Tonner Checkmate XV and won the 2015 Half Ton Classics Cup with a race to spare