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Howth Yacht Club's Checkmate XV & Harmony Head for Half Ton Classics in Belgium

9th August 2018
Howth's Jonny Swan in Harmony, a Humphreys' design from 1980, is heading for the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup at Nieuwpoort in Belgium next week Howth's Jonny Swan in Harmony, a Humphreys' design from 1980, is heading for the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup at Nieuwpoort in Belgium next week Photo: Afloat.ie

Howth Yacht Club's Dave Cullen in the 1985 Humphreys designed Checkmate XV and Jonny Swan in Harmony, an earlier Humphreys' design from 1980, are both heading for the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup at Nieuwpoort in Belgium next week.

The Half Ton Class makes a welcome return the Belgian port, which will take place from 20 to 24 August 2018 and will be hosted by the Koninklijke Yacht Club in Nieuwpoort.

The event will see some 20 vintage yachts built to the IOR Half Ton Rule compete over five days of racing for the prestigious Half Ton Classics Cup and a number of additional special trophies. New for this edition is the introduction of a Vintage IOR Class open to all non-modified Half Tonners (except mast and keel). Among them eleven boats from the local fleet (A+, Fantasy, Half Duke, Petit Izoï, Envol, Skippy's Ton, Farther Bruin, Spip, Ballerine, Red Cloud and Waverider) are already confirmed as competing in this division which is expected to provide some exciting and challenging competition.

Checkmate XV 4406Dave Cullen's 1985 Humphreys designed Checkmate XV Photo: Afloat.ie
As always, the event will attract teams from across Europe to compete and this year an Italian crew will be joining the fray for the first time. Sailing the 1989 Berret designed Blue Berret Pi/Team Italia, Jérôme Spilleboudt & Massimo Morasca and their crew come to the event as reigning Italian Half Ton National Champions and are expected to give the fleet a good run for their money.

Many of those competing are old friends of the class. From the English west country comes Robbie Tregear's 1992 Ceccarelli designed Per Elisa, whilst Toni Stoschek & Janne Tukolas make the trip all the way from Finland with their 1988 Andrieu designed Superhero.

The Belgian home fleet are putting up a good showing with Philippe Pilate's General Tapioca (1978 Berret) leading a strong team that includes Waverider skippered by Jacques Lemaire (1977 Davidson), Ian Van Burm's Fantasy (1980 Humphreys), Maël Danis' Envol (1980 Joubert) and Thibaut Martin's Spip (1984 Humphreys).

It is always a delight to see one of Ron Holland's legendary Golden Shamrocks taking part in the Half Ton Classics Cup and this year Half Duke will represent the class with a very special all-girl crew aboard, who will be racing to represent the NGO "Mothers & Midwives Support" which is gathering funds to finance an ambulance boat for the Monvu Hospital and Idjwi Island in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Wednesday evening of the regatta, the team will present their project in the yacht club, where they will be joined by Olympic Laser Radial Bronze Medalist Evi Van Acker, (a major rival of our own Annalise Murphy from Rio) who is a "godmother" to "Mothers & Midwives Support".

Registration for the event will open on Sunday 19th August and there will be practice racing that afternoon. Championship racing runs from Monday 20 to Friday 24 August inclusive and will feature a mixture of windward/leeward, short coastal and long coastal courses, with a maximum of three races being sailed each day.

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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