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The first opening of the Samuel Beckett Bridge to accommodate a flotilla of sailing craft dressed overall will be the highlight of water activity on the River Liffey in the coming weekend.

Organised by the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association and  the Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club, it will also feature skiff racing involving competing men, women and mixed rowing crews from Wicklow, Dun Laoghaire, Arklow, Greystones, Bray and two entries from Ringsend, assembled by  the East Coast Rowing Council.

The stretch of the river near the Poolbeg club will be a scene of constant craft  movement from the Beckett and East Link Bridges downriver to entrance to Dublin Bay. The skiff racing will be over a five- hour period from 2pm.

The best vantage point for the public to be up close to the rowing action will be East Link Road from the yacht club to the East Link Bridge.

The DBOGA expect gaffers from Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man to join local craft in a parade upstream and downriver to the entrance to Dubllin Bay in a parade of over 20 craft dressed overall.

Included in the visiting craft will be WILMA, A 60-foot Baltic Trader from Port Pnryn on the Menaii Straits, the Scots Zulu Breccon Lass of the Poolbeg club, the Galway Hooker, Naomh Chronain, built by hooker enthusiasts in Clondalkin, the gaff sloop Marguerite built in Malahide 114 years ago and the engineless Happy Quest  from Milford Haven.

The DBOGA's special guest for the weekend will be the noted shipwright, John Kearon, who leads the small team currently completing the conservation of ASGARD and headed for future display in the National Museum at Collins Barracks.

John Kearon has honoured the association with a special ASGARD trophy made up of original  ASGARD timber and portions of new wood that has gone into her hull. This will be the major prize for all future DBOGSA events and will be competed for over a five-hour race in the bay on Saturday  scheduled to start at 2pm.

That same evening victuals for the hungry racing crews will consist of a hog roast on the club premises followed by prizegiving and the first presentation of the new ASGARD Trophy.
Published in Coastal Notes

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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