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Howth Yacht Club's Checkmate XV Continues Lead At Half Ton Classics Cup

19th August 2015
Strong winds caused a dismasting at the Half Ton Cup. Photo: Fiona Brown
Howth Yacht Club's Checkmate XV Continues Lead At Half Ton Classics Cup

#hyc – Howth Yacht Club's Checkmate XV skippered by Dave Cullen continues to lead after the second day of the Half Ton Classics Cup fleet in Nieuwpoort. Another HYC boat, Jonny Swann's Harmony, is fifth overall. The regatta faced strong winds and big seas as they completed races three to five of their series. The forecast promised grey skies and regular rain showers, which it delivered, but it somewhat understimated the 20-25+ knots that came with them. Going afloat the crews had anticipated winds in the mid to upper teens so the heavy conditions came as something of a surprise.

See full results after five races downloadable below.

Fortunately the historic little yachts held up well against the elements and there was only one significant casualty in the shape of the rig of Philippe Pilate's General Tapioca, which failed at the spreaders going upwind during the fifth race. There were three other retirements from that race due to minor gear failure, but otherwise everyone was able to complete all races.

The first two races of the day were windward/leeward format and produced more incredibly tight racing with packed mark roundings and constant place changes.

Race three proved to be a Celtic showdown and was decided by a mere two seconds with Roddy Angus and Dan Challis's Trastada, from Fairlie Yacht Club on Scotland's Clyde, just pipping David Cullen's Checkmate XV, from Howth, Ireland, to the post. Fellow Howth Yacht Club member Johny Swann sailed Harmony into third, a mere six seconds behind Checkmate.

Tomorrow the forecast promises sun and lighter winds at last and the race committee has indicated that it intends to give the sailors a shorter day. It will run one or two windward leeward races in the morning so that the crews can be back on the dock in time for a long lunch and a relaxed afternoon sampling the delights of this lovely town and it's surroundings. The regatta continues until Friday 21 August.

Top five:
1. Checkmate XV, David Cullen Howth Yacht Club, IRL, 6.1 points
2. General Tapioca, Philippe Pilate BRYC, BEL, 11.2
3. Miss Whiplash, Paul Pullen RCYC, GBR, 11.6
4. Superhero, Toni Stoschek RORC - BRYC, GBR, 18.1
5. Harmony, Jonny Swan Howth Yacht Club, IRL, 25.7

Published in Half Tonners Team

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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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