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Checkmate Crew Bridesmaid in Italian Half Ton Cup

14th May 2019
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The Checkmate crew racing Gunboat Rangiri in Italy The Checkmate crew racing Gunboat Rangiri in Italy

With the difficulty in towing in Italy for wide loads and the fact that there is no Half Ton Cup this year in Europe, Dave Cullen chartered the legendary Farr 1977 Half Tonner “Gunboat Rangiri” for the Italian Half Ton Cup in Fiumicino last week. Its owner Claudio Massucci has taken great pride and effort to keep the boat original and it still had runners and a centreboard.

There was a modest fleet of ten boats, most of whom were largely original but David’s normal competitor, Superhero came from Belgium via Marseille and Corsica. Superhero, formerly from Howth, has since been modified and is now a “modern” half tonner so was the expected winner being only one of its type at the regatta.

With no time for practice, day one was blown out. Day two provided a great day of c.12 knots with bumpy seas and blazing sunshine. Gunboat was hit by a boat on port taking out their lifelines but scores of 3,2 & 1 put Gunboat Rangiri on the top of the overnight leader board. Saturday was a non-discardable long coastal race which was won by Superhero with Gunboat Rangiri third reversing the overnight leader board. They even managed to be hit by a Laser on port on the coastal race so it seemed they were a magnet to boats on port.

To take the Cup, the Checkmate crew needed a win in Sunday’s short coastal race with Superhero third. In winds starting at 2 knots and finishing in 16, it looked like Gunboat Rangiri had pulled it off and were congratulated by Superhero. As the crews packed up their boats, one of the lowest rating backmarkers “Prydwen” came in way afterwards to win the coastal race and blow Gunboat’s victory. It was somewhat ironic that Gunboat’s owner was sailing on Prydwen so scuppered his own boat’s victory.

The Checkmate crew, consisting of Dave Cullen, Nigel Biggs, Pete Evans, Aidan Beggan, Franz Rothschild, Jonny Sargent and Gary Cullen enjoyed some great hospitality and some of that famous champagne sailing.

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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