This weekend the Classic Half Tonners are converging on Nieuwpoort in Belgium for the 8th edition of the Half Ton Classics Cup, which is being organised in association with the Koninklijke Yacht Club Nieuwpoort (KYCN) and the Bruxelles Royal Yacht Club (BRYC). Registration for the regatta will open at noon on Sunday 16 August and racing is scheduled to get underway on Monday morning with a practice race planned to start at noon and the first championship race programmed for 14.00. The schedule provides for a mixture of windward leeward and coastal races and the regatta will conclude on Friday 21 August.
This year's entry list includes many old friends and some exciting new additions too. All the way from Ireland comes old friend David Cullen with his new boat Checkmate XV. A Rob Humphrey designed MG30, Checkmate XV was fully restored by John Corby in 2013 and won that year's Half Ton Classics Cup in Boulogne under the ownership of Nigel Biggs. David brings a strong crew to this year's event and clearly has his sights set on victory.
Another new pairing for this year will be Manon Vatlet and his crew of teenagers aboard the 1978 Joubert designed M'Half Raz, which Manon purchased earlier this year. M'Half Raz has been maintained in near "as original" condition and with her enthusiastic team of young dinghy sailors she could surprise a few people this week.
It is wonderful to see so many young sailors enjoying the Classic Half Tonners. As part of it's ongoing youth development programme Ostend's Royal North Sea Yacht Club sent a delegation to Brittany with instructions to "bring back the best half tonner available". That delegation brought back the 1981 Gahinet designed "North Sea Three" which is being sailed by a young team from the RNSYC who have already put in many hours both racing and training and are determined to learn and perform in Nieuwpoort.
Among the old friends attending will be Richard and Ursula Hollis's Jeppersen designed X98 Crakajax from Cowes, Philippe Pilate's 1978 Berret designed Generale Tapioca, which is based in Nieuwpoort and will be hoping to gain some home advantage, and Robby Tregear's 1992 Ceccarelli designed Per Elisa, the last Half Tonner ever built which showed moments of brilliance at last year's Half Ton Classic Cup and will be hoping for great things this year.
With twenty-two teams already registered its going to be a strong field and we can expect some fantastic sport from these historic little ships and their enthusiastic owners and crews.
Alongside a great racing programme the Half Ton Classics Cup is also famous for its social programme and this year is no exception. The fun will kick off with Welcome Drinks on Sunday evening and will include daily prize giving gatherings, the traditional HTCC Fancy Dress Party on Tuesday evening (Générale Tapioca's crew has already confirmed they will be dressed as characters from Tintin), the Half Ton Classic Cup Gala Dinner on Thursday and the final Prize Giving and "See You Next Year" drinks and dinner on Friday.