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A two-year title sponsorship deal has been signed by Irish Sea ferry operator, Stena Line and the ice-hockey team the Belfast Giants, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Next month the team are to play in a special pre-season game against the Nottingham Panthers at the Odyssey Arena as part of the Hockey Festival Weekend (27-28 August). Following the festival the 'Giant's will then play their first competitive game at the same venue against the Sheffield Steelers in early September.

Stena Line themselves will be looking forward to introducing their own giants when two of the largest ferries are to be introduced on the North Channel in the Autumn. The two chartered 30,000grt sisterships are Superfast VII and Superfast VIII. To see the vessel breaking through an an ice-flow, click PHOTO. The 203m long pair can take 1,200 passengers, around 660 cars or 110 freight vehicles. To read more about these 'Superfast' class vessels and the new £80 port terminal click HERE.

The company's area director Michael McGrath said: "It's quite fitting that we are teaming up with the Stena Line Belfast Giants at this time as we prepare to introduce two of the largest ferries every to sail between Northern Ireland and Scotland when we open our new route and port in Cairnryan this November. The two Superfast vessels will be another two Giants to add to our team."

Last year Stena Line made a £40m acquisition of the Belfast to Liverpool (Birkenhead) and Heysham routes and four vessels from DFDS Seaways. The deal was approved by the Irish authorities but remained subject to clearance from the UK's Competition Commission until late last month when they fully approved the acquisition.

This brings to six routes the company runs on its Irish Sea route network where over two million passengers were carried each year, more than its rival ferry operators combined.

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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