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Fogerty's Silver Shamrock Adds to Vintage Half Tonner Fleet in Howth

22nd April 2018
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With a crew of friends and family very much in mind, Conor Fogerty's Silver Shamrock competes in the first ISORA race off Dalkey, County Dublin With a crew of friends and family very much in mind, Conor Fogerty's Silver Shamrock competes in the first ISORA race off Dalkey, County Dublin Photo: Afloat.ie

The latest addition to Howth’s vintage fleet, Conor Fogerty’s ‘new’ boat is something of an old favourite and one that should be very familiar to Afloat.ie readers.

Silver Shamrock, the Ron Holland-designed and Cork-built Half Tonner that took its class world title in 1976, is still a winner four decades on — putting in a particularly strong showing last summer with then owner and skipper Stuart Greenfield.

But how did Silver Shamrock end up in the hands of Afloat’s latest Sailor of the Year, and ‘come home’ to Ireland? As Fogerty explains it to Afloat.ie, there was more than a little fate involved.

Silver Shamrock 1045With a special green Shamrock emblazoned on her spinnaker, the half–tonner competes on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

“The short story is my partner, Suzanne Ennis, wanted a cruising boat for the family, as Bam! wasn’t ideal,” he says of the Sun Fast 3600 he raced to victory in the 2017 OSTAR.

“[Suzanne’s] father Francis Ennis owned the Club Shamrock ‘Moon Dance’ and her sister Stephanie Ennis and Windsor [Lauden] own the Club Shamrock ‘Demelza’. So the only natural course of action was to follow the family’s love of Shamrocks, but with a twist on the ‘Club’.”

After some research, Fogerty became intrigued about the air of reverence around the yacht Harold Cudmore skippered to the Half Ton World Championship in 1976.

“I knew the owner, Stuart Greenfield, who had been racing her in the SORC; he had saved her from a death of neglect in Falmouth a few years earlier.”

The appeal of a boat like Silver Shamrock was too much to ignore for Fogerty, who started “tyre-kicking a few Golden Shamrocks” in search of the right fit. 

But little did he expect that the holy grail herself would pop up for sale on his Facebook feed.

Silver Shamrock 1093Silver boat for silver seas – Silver Shamrock is back on Irish waters and contesting coastal races and other Irish fixtures this season Photo: Afloat.ie

“I flew down to Cowes to meet Stuart and his proudly dry-sailed Shamrock,” Fogerty says. “As Stuart is a neighbour of Harold [Cudmore], I think there was an element of satisfaction in the deal, knowing that Silver Shamrock was returning home after some 40 years abroad.”

And what a return it’s been, as our own Winkie Nixon wrote yesterday of the splash Silver Shamrock has made in her new home waters of Dublin Bay — most recently coming first in class and third over all in the ISORA warm-up race last weekend.

“So to all my ISORA friends: beware of the boat lurking on the horizon!”

“In hindsight, I’m pretty sure, I would rather cruise Bam! than a stripped-out, death-rolling Shamrock,” Fogerty says. “But sure that’s the romantic notion of families sailing versus reality!”

With Bam! currently being shipped back from Antigua after Fogerty’s class win in February’s Caribbean 600 — and sponsorship pending a commitment to the Round Britain & Ireland double-handed race — all focus is now on the Silver Shamrock.

“The plan of action over the next 12 months or so is to train in some crew, modernise her deckware and rig and see if we can get Silver Shamrock back up to her former glory,” Fogerty says of the family cruising project that’s already become so much more.

“So to all my ISORA friends: beware of the boat lurking on the horizon!”

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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