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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: Barley

Kieran Cotter and Jerry Smith of Baltimore are the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailors of the Month" for August in recognition of the key roles they played in the superb rescue of all 21 of he crew of the capsized super-maxi Rambler 100 in the record-breaking Rolex Fastnet Race.

When Rambler's canting keel snapped off on the evening of Monday August 15th shortly after this mega-machine had rounded the Rock, she was powering at full speed towards the turning buoy, crashing into the lumpy seas which often arise where the steep land juts into the open ocean.

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Kieran Cotter  and the crew of the Baltimore lifeboat at the capize site. Photo: Thierry Martinez

The catastrophe was total and very sudden. The giant racer completely inverted every bit as quickly as the smallest of racing dinghies. The changeover, from being a highly tuned performer on track for success, into the inverted hell of exploding water, strangling ropes and jagged breaking gear, was at the least totally disorienting, and could have caused panic in less seasoned sailors.

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The Lifeboat rescue from the upturned hull. Photo: Team Phaedo

Despite the difficulty of clambering onto the ultra-smooth underside of the huge hull, fifteen of the crew managed to get themselves up to the minimal handhold of the dagger board. But five of those who had been below – some of them off watch asleep – had drifted away from the boat after the monumental struggle of escaping from a small world turned upside down.

The five in the water roped themselves together, but things had taken an ominous turn, as the mist in which the big boat had rounded the Fastnet had now thickened into fog. For a crucial period, visibility was virtually nonexistent as other boat raced past nearby at high speed. And although some emergency radio beacons had automatically activated, the picture was confused with night drawing on.

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Drifting crew are rescued. Photo: Team Phaedo


Time was of the essence – even in summer these waters can quickly induce hypothermia. Several agencies were now involved in the rescue, and skilled use of technology narrowed the search area, though in the sea conditions the stricken boat and crew were frequently invisible.

It was the Baltimore lifeboat with Kieran Cotter in command which was first on the scene. Taking off the crew was a challenge, but all fifteen on the upturned Rambler were safely rescued, though an impact between lifeboat and white hull resulted in a streak of lifeboat blue on the yacht which was to be immortalised as "Kieran's kiss".

But that was later, not until after a needle-in-a-haystack search found the other five adrift together in the water, with one already on the edge of coma. They were found by the lifeboat deputy mechanic Jerry Smith, on patrol with a Fastnet Race film crew in his dive boat Wave Chieftain. It was a miracle.

Next morning safely in Baltimore, the weather was already well improved. The previous night's conditions seemed like a nightmare. In calm summery conditions two days later, the Rambler hull was righted off Barley Cove and towed to Baltimore. She'll be restored to full racing trim by Cookson's in New Zealand, presumably with modifications to the design and specification for the canting keel. But that's another day's work. Today, we celebrate the achievement of Kieran Cotter and Jerry Smith, whose seamanship provided the successful focus for a network of rapid work by skilled technologists ashore.

Coverage of the rescue appears in Afloat's Rolex Fastnet Race page

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. 

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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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