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Displaying items by tag: Seabird Half Raters

While the ancient Howth 17s may have started racing in 1898 a year earlier than the Seabird Half Raters on the other side of the Irish Sea, the Warden-Owen family of Treardur Bay reckon their Seabird class Scoter is all of 121 years old.

She was certainly far and away the oldest of the eight Seabirds which were brought across from Treardur Bay in Anglesey for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019. But age has not withered her. On the contrary, Scoter flew at speed like the duck she’s named after, and having achieved nine races, she was able to claim a clean sweep of wins after discarding a third from the first race.

seabird action2Jonty Straw’s Gannet (No 68) with overall winner Scoter crossing ahead of her. Photo:’Brien

That third may have been the result of everything involved in her being in Dun Laoghaire at all, for co-owner Eddie Warden-Owen is CEO of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and his week might have been a bit fraught through the fact that the ultra-calm conditions in the Atlantic had delayed finishers in the Transatlantic Race co-sponsored by the RORC and the New York Yacht Club.

But by Thursday the heavy metal had got to Cowes and an overall winner had been declared, and it was time for Eddie to have a bit of downtime racing Scoter with his brother David in Dublin Bay. And what better downtime is there than racing with your brother in the family’s long-loved boat against a group of friends you’ve known since Noah was a lad?

The best down time of all is doing a bit of quiet winning while you’re at it. Scoter (No 6) had herself a ball to win overall, second OA was Chris Neil with Harlequin (106) and third Tringa (76) Richard Nash.

Eddie Warden Owen3A man refreshed. Eddie Warden-Owen (centre) after a successful Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta 2019 in the 121-year-old Scoter. Photo: O’Brien

Published in Volvo Regatta

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.


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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