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.
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.