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#FerryNews - Weather permitting, Irish Continental Group (ICG)’s €144m newbuild cruiseferry W.B. Yeats, is due to be launched tomorrow from a German shipyard, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The giant 55,500 gross tonnage W.B. Yeats with a capacity for 1,885 passengers and crew and 1,200 cars, is to be launched from the slip of Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co. KG (FSG).

Launching of W.B. Yeats will be a significant milestone for ICG as the cruiseferry will easily be the biggest ever to enter service for their ferry division Irish Ferries, however this will be upstaged by an even larger giant super-cruiseferry, as ICG recently placed an order also with FSG at a cost of €165.2m.

The super cruiseferry, estimated to be around 67,300 gross tonnage, is to be delivered by mid-2020 and operate the core Irish Sea Dublin-Holyhead route. The super-cruisferry will be more freight-orientated and will also be the biggest ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity. 

As for the W.B. Yeats, tomorrow's first contact of the cruise ferry with the water at the FSG shipyard is located in the German city on the Baltic Sea.

There remains plenty of work to be done as the luxurious cruiseferry will take several months before shipbuilders sea trials of W.B. Yeats can take place. In addition to berthing trials in mid-June following W. B. Yeats scheduled delivery voyage to Dublin Port. The cruiseferry at 195m is longer to the capital's iconic ‘Spire’ if laid on its side which measures just 120m.

Dublin Port is homeport to ICG headquarters and where existing flagship, Ulysses operates on the route to Holyhead. The 50,000 gross tonnage cruiseferry built by Aker Finnyards, Finland in 2001, bears a strong design resemblance to that of W.B. Yeats.

Irish Ferries are firstly to deploy W.B. Yeats on an Ireland-France around mid-July, this will be the Dublin-Cherbourg route. The new cruiseferry is to enter service ready in time for the summer's high-season months.

The continental route opened in recent years by the chartered-in ropax Epsilon, offering a no-frills service, is to be replaced by the W.B. Yeats which will be a considerable improvement given the extensive range of passenger facilities. They include a Club Class lounge, an á la carte and self-service restaurants, cinema, shopping mall and a variety of bars and choice of lounges.

W.B. Yeats will also raise the bar as accommodation for 440 cabins will include luxury suites with their own private balconies. This feature is a first for Irish Ferries and will be appreciated more so during the summer and on the longer continental crossings. This compared to the short-sea Dublin-Holyhead route, when W.B. Yeats is to make a second new debut by serving on the Welsh service from September.

At that stage, it will be a year since the cruiseferry’s official keel-laying ceremony took place at FSG. The Flensburg shipyard will be kept busy with construction of the ‘jumboised’ version of W.B. Yeats half-sister super-cruiseferry, given designs seen by Afloat which will be revealed soon on FerryNews.

Published in Ferry

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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