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Displaying items by tag: Lord Dunraven

The two America’s Cup Challenges made through the Royal Yacht Squadron by Lord Dunraven of Adare in County Limerick in 1893 and 1895 both had elements of controversy writes W M Nixon. And such serious ill-feeling emerged after his challenge of 1895 that Dunraven was subsequently relieved of his Honorary Membership of the defending New York Yacht Club, an extreme and unprecedented step which led to international diplomatic moves to smooth the waters between the UK and the US.

Dunraven – who had been introduced to sailing by the great John Jameson aboard the famous racing cutter Irex in Dublin Bay in the 1880s – made his challenges with large cutters designed by the renowned G L Watson. And the 1893 matter of potential friction was successfully resolved when Dunraven’s contention that there should not be an inshore course option was successfully upheld in order to ensure truer wind conditions.

lord dunraven2The G L Watson-designed Valkyrie II (left) racing against Vigilant in the 1893 America’s Cup. Valkyrie II was a near-sister of the Royal cutter Britannia which was built the same year

But with the second challenge by the 129ft Valkyrie III in 1895 at New York harbour, he became so incensed by what he felt was the intrusion of the huge spectator fleet into the racing area that he made a formal complaint about about it. And after Valkyrie III was held responsible for minor collision in the second race for which which he tended to blame the spectator fleet, he withdrew from the series with further grievances.

Both the Dunraven challenges ended in defeat, though he was only beaten by 40 seconds in the final race of 1893, with Valkyrie II starting to perform to her true potential. But they had successfully raised the standard of yacht raced in the America’s Cup to a much higher technical level. However, the 1895 effort ended not only in defeat, but with a high level of acrimony which lasted until this year, with the Dunraven challenges almost air-brushed out of some histories of the America’s Cup.

Yet as time has passed a greater realization has developed of Dunraven’s other achievements, for he was a man of many talents – for instance, he successfully co-chaired the Conference which brought Land Act settlement to Ireland in 1903. And some historians of the America’s Cup feel that in the hectic world of the 1890s, the American defenders may have come down a little too heavily on a Challenger who became very isolated in his efforts in 1895 after he had begun to look like a contender in 1893.

Certainly when the next series was held in 1899 – with Sir Thomas Lipton challenging through the Royal Ulster Yacht Cub with Shamrock I – the race area was rigorously patrolled by the US Navy to keep spectator vessels well away. And in later stagings of this pinnacle of world sailing, cognisance was also taken of Dunraven’s feeling that the course should be moved further away from the adverse effects of land upon wind behaviour.

So in this year of 2016, a year in which America seems to be increasingly mired with internal political controversy, it’s good to know that during the summer Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, 4th Earl of Dunraven (1841-1926) was finally inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame for his contribution to course-setting protocols, and his pioneering of the Golden Era when huge yet technically-advanced yachts raced for the Holy Grail of international sailing.

Published in America's Cup

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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