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Day 3 1200hrs You lose a major record on one side of the Atlantic one day, so you simply establish a new one on the other side of the ocean the next afternoon. That’s the way it is with the irrepressible George David of Rambler 88 writes W M Nixon

Yesterday in Bermuda, Jim and Kristy Clark’s 100ft Comanche, skippered by Kenny Read with the legendary Stan Honey calling the tactical and weather shots, knocked a clear five hours off the course record for the classic biennial Newport-Bermuda Race. That record had been established in the race of 2012 by George David with his veteran 90ft Rambler, to which he had returned for his campaigning after his newer Rambler 100 had exited the David racing scene when her keel broke off in the 2011 Fastnet Race.

Rambler 100 has since re-appeared under new ownership as Investec Loyal in Australia. But even while he was campaigning again in Rambler 90, George David and designer Juan K were planning the perfect boat, Rambler 88, and for two years and more now, she has been an adornment and a force to be reckoned with on the international offshore racing scene.

But with the keel crunch of 2011, George David felt he still had issues for his new Rambler 88 both with the Fastnet Race itself – which he duly completed in 2015, but it wasn’t a big boat race – and with Ireland too, issues which could best be dealt with by a full-hearted participation in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016.

Full-hearted with George David makes most other efforts look faint-hearted. For as of 1215hrs today, Rambler 88 is coming down the Irish Sea with just 46 miles to go to the finish at Wicklow, she’s on course in a moderate westerly breeze with 15 knots on the clock, and with the south-going ebb starting to make early in the afternoon from Rockabill southwards, she is well on track to beat Jean-Philippe Chomette’s 2006 open mono-hull record of 2 days 9 hrs and 41 minutes, while at the same time completely blowing away Mike Slade’s race course of 2 days 17 hours and 48 minutes set in the Round Ireland Race of 2008 by the 100ft Leopard.

The only thing missed is the two day record, which will expire with Rambler still at sea at 1300hrs today. But in the bigger picture, Rambler’s achievement is put into an even grander perspective when it’s remembered that she is also currently leading IRC overall in the Volvo Round Ireland Race. While they may make spectacular appearance to take line honours in major events it’s extremely unusual for the stratospherically-rated canting keel maxis to win on IRC handicap, so if Rambler 88 manages it this time round, we’ll have history made at least three times over.

Meanwhile in Bermuda Kenny Read has been enthusing how it was Stan Honey’s advice which enabled Caomanche to show her full potential and establish this new Bermuda Race record in what had been “champagne sailing” throughout. Quite. “Champagne sailing” is not a term which would spring readily to mind in describing conditions in the Volvo Round Ireland 2016. On the contrary, “Guinness sailing” might be more appropriate, as it has been often dark and murky with inevitable froth on top.

In an hour or so, we’ll be having a roundup of how it is for the rest of the fleet still off the west and southwest coasts. But for now – go Rambler!

See Round Ireland tracker here and keep to up to date with the fleet's progress with Afloat's regular Round Ireland 2016 updates here

Published in Round Ireland
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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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