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Howth Yacht Club's Checkmate XV Makes It A Victory Double At Half Ton Classics Cup 2018

24th August 2018
2018 Half Ton Classics Cup winners David Cullen and the Checkmate XV team Darragh O'Connor, Nin O'Leary, Jonathan Sargent, Aidan Beggan, Niki Potterton and Franz Rothschild of the Howth Yacht Club 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup winners David Cullen and the Checkmate XV team Darragh O'Connor, Nin O'Leary, Jonathan Sargent, Aidan Beggan, Niki Potterton and Franz Rothschild of the Howth Yacht Club Photo: Fiona Brown

With a convincing win in the final spectacular race run in glorious sunshine and big seas off Nieuwpoort, Checkmate XV (1985 Humphreys) and her crew of owner David Cullen, Darragh O'Connor, Nin O'Leary, Jonathan Sargent, Aidan Beggan, Niki Potterton and Franz Rothschild of Howth Yacht Club claimed a well deserved overall victory in the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup. For Checkmate XV this was the third time she had earnt the right to have her name engraved on the Half Ton Classics Cup (equalling the legendary Swuzzlebubble's record) and for David and his team is was their second win, the first also being here in Nieuwpoort in 2015 as Afloat.ie reported here.

In a unique one-two for Ireland, Cullen's clubmate Jonny Swann in Harmony took second overall, to underline the high standard of Half-Ton racing in Ireland at the moment.

The final race was a cracker, sailed in a 14-16 knot westerly, huge seas and glorious sunshine. The first start was recalled so Race Officer Paul Charlier pulled out the U Flag and on the second attempt, everyone behaved. It was nip and tuck all the way with Robbie Tregear's Per Elisa (1992 Ceccarelli) initially heading the fleet from Philippe Pilate's General Tapioca (1978 Berret), Checkmate XV, Toni Stoschek & Janne Tukolas' Superhero (1988 Andrieu), Tom Florizoone's Red Cloud (1981 Joubert), Paul Wayte's Headhunter (1984 Van de Stadt) and Jonny Swan's Harmony (1980 Humphreys). But the Irish team dug deep and by the final turn for home Checkmate XV had a decent lead with Per Elisa, Harmony and General Tapioca now hard on her heels. At the finish Checkmate XV took the race by 52 seconds, with Harmony second from Per Elisa and General Tapioca fourth. Sadly a technical issue with the committee boat's anchor made a second race impossible and so the championship closed with eight races completed. 

Checkmate XV winnersThe Checkmate XV team with the Half Ton Classics Cup Trophy Dave Cullen and Darragh O'Connor, Nin O'Leary, Jonathan Sargent, Aidan Beggan, Niki Potterton and Franz Rothschild of the Howth Yacht Club Photo: Fiona Brown

In his thank you speech at the prize giving David Cullen made a few special presentations of his own before reflecting that "Being a Half-Ton owner is a bit like being a heroin addict, you don't really enjoy it but its very hard to stop! And a lot of that comes down to the camaraderie in this room and in this class." It was a sentiment that clearly hit the right note with the assembled crowd and he then went on to particularly thank Class Chairman Philippe Pilate and Class Secretary Bert Janssen for all their work in driving and supporting the Class.

"Being a Half-Ton owner is a bit like being a heroin addict, you don't really enjoy it but it's very hard to stop!"

In the Vintage IOR Division, Albert Pierrard & An Callens' A+ (1985 Nissen) had a superb last race loving every minute of the downwind sleigh rides, with Waverider second by 47 seconds and Nicolas Lejeune's Skippy's Ton (1984 Briand) third. At the Prize Giving it was confirmed that the first ever winner of the new Vintage IOR Trophy was the local Belgian boat Waverider sailed by owner Jaques Lemaire, Michael Gendebien, Thibout de Kenchous, Michel Lefebure, Stephove Putseys, Winnie Berteloot and Pascal Aboosha. Ivan Van Burm's Fantasy (1980 Humphreys) took second place by a mere half point from A+ in third.

Checkmate XV hoistingThe champions prepare for a hoist in race one Photo: Fiona Brown

Alongside the main trophies two further special prizes were also announced. The first was the Half Ton Classics Cup Corinthian Trophy, which goes to the top performing all amateur crew and was won by Rampage (1985 Briand) sailed by owner John Hicks, Rod Wootton, Will Parkinson, Mike Chamberlain, Becky Leach, Jane Hicks and Joe Cable from Cornwall, UK.

The final prize presented is always the Spirit of Half Ton Trophy and it goes to the team who best embody that certain hard to define something that sums up the true heart of the Half Ton Class. For rescuing and totally rebuilding their boat against all the odds after she was almost completely destroyed when a crane fell on her some three years ago, this year the Spirit of Half Ton Trophy was presented to Nicolas Lejeune and Waverider. Waverider is a truly special Half Tonner; designed by Laurie Davidson in 1977 she won two consecutive Half Ton Cups in 1978 off Poole and in 1979 off Scheveningen. Her reconstruction has been a work of love and dedication by Nicolas and his friends and family, with the support of boat builders and fellow Half Ton sailors Tom Florizoone (Red Cloud) and Ian Van Burm (Fantasy). Waverider is a wooden boat so first she had to be put into a jig and left to settle back into shape before the rebuild could start. That work could only begin a few months ago and took the team until the night before the regatta to complete. The very first time the sailed the boat after her relaunch was the first race of this championship, so this was a hugely popular win and the entire team came to the stage to raucous cheers and applause.

There were thank yous to the many volunteers and sponsors who have made the event possible and every team taking part was called forward to receive gifts and prizes before Master of Ceremonies Bert Janssen confirmed that the next Half Ton Classics Cup will be held in 2020 and will be hosted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in Cowes (dates to be confirmed). Finally Commodore Baudouin Meyhui of the Koninklijke Yacht Club Nieuwpoort thanked the competitors, wished them safe journeys home and hoped that they would all be back in Nieuwpoort again very soon.

Final Overall Results here

1. Checkmate XV - 2, 6, (6), (11), 2 , 1, 1.5, 1 = 13.5
2. Harmony - 6, (8), (8), 1, 3, 2, 3, 2 = 17
3. Per Elisa - 1, 1, 1, 4, (4), (20), 12, 3 = 22
4. Waverider - 4, 3, 2, (10), 5, 3, 7.5, (9) = 24.5
5. Red Cloud - 3, 4, 4, 3, (6), 4, 9, (5) = 27

Final IOR Vintage Division Results
1. Waverider - 1, 1, 1, (2), 1, 1, 3, (2) = 8
2. Fantasy - 2, (6), 2, 1, 3, 5, 4.5, (5) = 17.5
3. A+ - 3, 3, (4), (4), 2, 3, 6, 1 = 18

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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