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Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble Crowned Champion With Day to Spare off Kinsale

17th August 2017
Another first and second place on Thursday saw Swuzzlebubble start the coastal course with a commanding nine-point advantage Another first and second place on Thursday saw Swuzzlebubble start the coastal course with a commanding nine-point advantage Photo: Bob Bateman

With a scoresheet of mostly first and second places for the series, Phil Plumtree’s Swuzzlebubble won the Euro Car Parks Half Ton Classics Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club, Ireland with just Friday’s eleventh race remaining. A breezy penultimate day ended with a short coastal course in which the British boat placed fifth but was still good enough to confirm the overall win.

Plumtree’s ten race series saw him dominate the 21-strong fleet from the opening race on Monday in spite of an eighth place in race three. However, four races on Tuesday left little room for doubt with all first and second places for the day while the event discard took care of the high score from the opening day.

Another first and second place on Thursday saw Swuzzlebubble start the coastal course with a commanding nine-point advantage. However, the race around the scenic approaches to Kinsale and the finish off the historic Charles Fort carried a 1.5x multiplication factor and several wipe-outs in the heavy conditions at sea saw Plumtrees team place fifth.

Their nearest challengers were second placed David Cullen on Checkmate XV and Nigel Biggs on Checkmate XVIII but both had sixth and fifth places earlier in the day that effectively decided the regatta in Swuzzlebubble’s favour as the former Kiwi classic ended with a three point advantage and a worst race discard of second that allows Plumtree to sit out the Friday’s final due to an unexpected crew personal commitment.

The regatta now returns to what had been suspected all week given Swuzzlebubble’s pre-event favourite status after two previous titles: that the series is a battle for second place.

Cullen’s lead over his Checkmate’s former owner is just 1.5 points and while the Howth Yacht Club skipper equalled Plumtree’s win count for the series so far, a make or break final race could be all the opportunity Biggs needs to push his newly launched Checkmate XVIII ahead of his friend and take the first runner-up place.

As has been the case all week with one day lost to high-winds, the forecast for Friday morning is for near gales but with a possible weather window to allow for an earlier starting-time of 0955 for a one hour windward-leeward course.

Elsewhere in the fleet, Mike and Ritchie Evans’ The Big Picture is assured of fourth overall, ahead of class president Philipe Pilate on General Tapioca. The third host country boat - all three hail from Howth - in the top six has a battle to keep the standing as Jonny Swan holds a slim 0.75 point lead over seventh placed Paul Pullen on Miss Whiplash.

EURO CAR PARKS HALF TON CLASSICS CUP 2017 (at Kinsale YC, Ireland)
Top six overall standings after Day 4 - ten races (21 entries)

1 Swuzzlebubble Phil Plumtree (UK)
2 Checkmate XV Dave Cullen (Ireland)
3 Checkmate XVIII Nigel Biggs (UK)
4 The Big Picture Michael & Richard Evans (Ireland)
5 General Tapioca Philippe Pilate (Belgium)
6 Harmony Jonny Swan (Ireland)

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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