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Half–Tonners, Sigma 33s, X302s, J97s & Corbys Mean ICRA Class Two Title Is Wide Open

12th March 2017
The quality of the Class Two ICRA fleet must make it one of the most competitive The quality of the Class Two ICRA fleet must make it one of the most competitive Photo: Bob Bateman

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.

J97 Lambay RulesStephen Quinn’s J/97 Lambay Rules is at the top of the Class Two Rating Band Photo: Afloat.ie

Half Tonner CortegadaCork's George Radley adds his latest 'half' Half Tonner Cortegada to the Class Two fleet this season. Photo: Bob Bateman

checkmate half ton champion1David Cullen's Checkmate from Howth Yacht Club is the 2015 Half Ton champion

Harmony Half tonnerPopular Half tonner Harmony from Howth (Jonny Swan) is on the Class Two circuit Photo: Bob Bateman

Half tonner Big pictureAnother quality Half tonner campaign from HYC, The Big Picture (Michael and Richard Evans). Photo: Afloat.ie

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.

X302 DuxThe X302 fleet from Howth YC includes stalwart DUX Photo: Afloat.ie

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.

Sigma 33The Sigma 33 class, formerly a stand alone one design class, have joined DBSC Cruisers Two division this year, boosting numbers on Dublin Bay to 19 Photo: Afloat.ie

Biggs CheckmateCheckmate XVIII – the old Emiliano Zapata, ex Dick Dastardly, ex French Beret, ex Concorde from 1985 is undergoing a refit in North Wales, launching early May

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

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.

Competitions

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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