#halfton – The 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup came to a sparkling conclusion today with one final thrilling race off the beautiful North Brittany coast and a delightful prize giving on the waterfront of Saint-Quay-Portreiux writes Fiona Brown.
With the breeze a little lighter at around 10-14 knots we saw some different faces at the front of the pack today and the finish was incredibly close, both on the water and on corrected time. Robert Tregear's Per Elisa (1989 Ceccarelli), the last one off half tonner ever built, came into her own and gave Swuzzlebubble a run for her money, although they couldn't quite save their time and Swuzzlebubble won by 23 seconds. Third place went to Frederic Waniart's diminutive Maeva (1974 Mauric) who beat General Tapioca for third by a mere 0.16 seconds! Also much happier in today's lighter airs was Checkmate XV who took fifth, beating The Big Picture by 0.53 seconds!
Our winner, Peter Morton's Swuzzlebubble (1978 Farr), had already been confirmed yesterday, but still came out to race purely for the joy of it. And our remaining podium positions were confirmed as Bernard Fournier Le Ray's Brittany Drizzle (1978 Berret) evaded one final challenge from her sister ship General Tapioca, owned by Philippe Pilate, to claim second place with General Tapioca taking the third step on the podium.
At the prize giving each of the skippers was invited to the podium to receive an invitation to the 2015 Half Ton Classics Cup, which will be held in in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, from 17-23 August, and to say a few words about the regatta. They were universal in their praise of the Sport Nautique Saint-Quay-Portrieux for their organisation of the regatta, of the Half Ton Classics Class for their work behind the scenes, and of their crews and fellow competitors for the incredible competition, fun and camaraderie they have experienced this week.
Winner Peter Morton not only paid tribute to the organisers and his crew, but to his fellow owners and the incredible work they do in keeping these historic boats in such outstanding condition. He especially highlighted his closest challenger Bernard Fournier Le Ray, who he has known since Bernard built Indulgence, the boat in which Peter won the Three Quarter Ton Cup in 1986. Peter highlighted that Bernard built Brittany Drizzle himself in his garden in 1978 and has raced and maintained her personally ever since, giving Peter much good competition over the years. That she is in outstanding condition some 36 years later and still raced with great success at the highest level is a true testament to Bernard's skill as a builder and sailor and to the longevity of the Half Tonners. Peter concluded by saying he looked forward to racing with the fleet again at next year's event in Nieuwpoort.
Alongside the overall prizes there were a number of special presentations. David Evans' Hullabaloo XV, a 1978 Stephen Jones designed Hustler 32, won both the Production Boat Trophy and the Corinthian Trophy. A special presentation was made to Alexandre Neuilly and his crew of Turbidite (1983 Fauroux) who may have come last in the rankings this week, but who truly embody the spirit of fun, enthusiasm, determination, tenacity and humour that typifies the Half Ton Class.
And finally we came to the most important presentation of all, The Half Ton Spirit Trophy, which is awarded to the team, which, in the opinion of the Class and the Regatta Committee, truly embodies the extraordinary spirit of the class and the event. For their commitment and incredible personal hard work in keeping their beautiful boat in 100% as original condition, for sailing with great success with an entirely Corinthian crew and for racing her, runners, checkstays, titanium fittings and all, to an incredible ninth place overall, the 2014 Half Ton Spirit Trophy was awarded to deafening applause to Concorde (1989 Andrieu) owned by Francis Marshall and crewed by Robert Libby, Matt and Ivan Jacock, Peter Greenwood, Dick Jackman and Jack Spree - a bunch of Enterprise sailors and fishermen from Loo in Cornwall. A very moved Francis and his entire team came to the podium to accept the trophy and the recognition of their fellow sailors.
With the formalities complete a delighted but exhausted Philippe Pilate, President of the Half Ton Classics Class, summed up his feelings about the regatta; "The landscape, the weather and the technical aspects of the regatta were outstanding, but for me the quality of our welcome in Saint-Quay-Portrieux has been the highlight of the week. The members of Sport Nautique Saint-Quay-Portrieux and the people of the town have not only welcomed us as friends, but have made us feel like family. It has been quite extraordinary and we are sad to leave."
And so we say farewell to Saint-Quay-Portriuex and look forward to seeing the Half Ton Classics family once again in Nieuwpoort from 17-23 August 2015.