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Irish Boats Perform Well At Half Ton Classics Cup

17th August 2016
Big Picture from Howth competing at the Half Ton Big Picture from Howth competing at the Half Ton Credit: Fiona Brown

Day three of the Henri Lloyd Half Ton Classics Cup was sponsored by Sta-Lok and brought a change of weather and a change of overall leader. After two days of glorious sunshine the sailors found themselves sailing in the infamous Cornish mizzle (a cross between mist and drizzle) with a south easterly breeze of around 10 to 12 knots. The swell had subsided a little, but was most definitely still in evidence and the lighter breeze made it even harder to navigate through.

The Flushing Sailing Club Race Committee started the day with a pair of windward leeward races and then set the third course around permanently laid marks in Falmouth Bay with the finish off Port Pendennis. As the event reached the midway point the racing was closer than ever with some new faces coming to the top of the heap and mere seconds separating the leading boats on corrected times.

Mike Evans' The Big Picture, whose crew includes Irish Olympian Mark Mansfield and top International Dragon crew Adam Winkelmann, really found their form and were top performing boat of the day with a 1, 3, 2 scoreline. They won the opener by two seconds from Paul Pullen's Miss Whiplash with Greg Peck's Swuzzlebubble third and Jonny Swan's Harmony fourth. Only 46 seconds separated the top six boats on corrected time with Jean-Philippe Cau and Claude Charbonnier's Sibelius fourth and Francis Marshall's Concorde fifth.


The second windward leeward race was also incredibly tight. Swuzzlebubble beat Sibelius by just one second with The Big Picture third, David Cullen's Checkmate fourth and Concorde fifth.

Race six brought plenty of drama with a huge right-hander on the first beat which caught out Swuzzlebubble and several other leading boats, a hook around the second mark that forced the rounding boats straight back into those still beating in, and Harmony making an enthusiastic port tack mark approach with a stack of boats inside her which created a mini drama all of its own. Fortunately no Half Tonners were injured in the completion of this race in which defending champion Checkmate claimed her first race win of the series with The Big Picture second, Harmony third, Sibelius fourth and Miss Whiplash fifth.

With six races now completed the first of two discards comes into play and Swuzzlebubble bounces up the leader board into first place one and a half points ahead of Miss Whiplash. Holding onto third place with a ten point delta is Harmony while Sibelius moves up into fourth a further point and a half back. Fifth and sixth are separated by just half a point with Checkmate just ahead of The Big Picture.

With two more days of sailing, up to six more races to sail and a forecast offering everything from six the thirty-six knots between now and Friday afternoon the regatta remains wide open.

Full results here

Published in Half Tonners

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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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