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Dave Cullen's Howth Yacht Club Half Tonner Checkmate XV is ICRA's Boat of the Year

4th November 2018
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Dave Cullen (right) on his way to victory in the Royal Irish Yacht Club Regatta on Dublin Bay in the 2018 ICRA Boat of the Year, the 1985 Humphrey's Checkmate XV Dave Cullen (right) on his way to victory in the Royal Irish Yacht Club Regatta on Dublin Bay in the 2018 ICRA Boat of the Year, the 1985 Humphrey's Checkmate XV Photo: Afloat.ie

Howth Yacht Club's all-conquering vintage Half Tonner Checkmate XV was the winner of the ICRA Boat of the Year Award at the association's agm held at Lough Derg Yacht Club yesterday. The cruiser-racer award completes a stellar season for the North Dublin campaign that has seen victories on both the national and international stage.

Cullen, already an Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month, emerged as clear overall champion in Howth’s successful Wave Regatta in June and then went on to record outright class wins in both the National and Royal Irish Yacht Club Regattas. See those respective regatta reports here and here.

A skilled helmsman himself, Cullen is also noted for his ability to provide impressive standards in boat management programmes, and top-level personnel resources with the likes of Nin O’Leary, Maurice Prof O’Connell and Mark Mansfield readily joining the Cullen crew lineup.

In August, he went further on the international stage when he won the Half Ton Classics Cup in Belgium 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 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, to complete a memorable season.

Dave Cullen is also shortlisted for the Sailor of the Year Award, see WM Nixon's 2018 review here

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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