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UK and Ireland importers of J boats, Key Yachting Ltd are celebrating a good showing for both their J boats and Grand Soleil ranges in this week's Fastnet race. The UK firm has issued the following press statement capitalising on results to date:

The Key Yachting Fastnet Top Twenty – Grand Soleil 43 Codiam straight in at Number One

For those who love the Fastnet Race, and for many it is the highlight of the offshore season, the 2011 race has delivered on all counts. It has proved a hugely tactical race and competitors have fought for speed in a whole variety of conditions from 30 knots of breeze through to what was almost a complete shut-down in the pressure. Extraordinarily frightening for for some, gut wrenchingly frustrating for others, incredibly rewarding for those who got it right and extremely high-stress for many of the thousands and thousands of ‘virtual spectators’ who have spent the last five days perched on the edge of their office chairs watching the thrills and spills of the race online, whilst the UK economy grinds slowly upwind against the tide.

The fleet this year numbered well over 300 boats, one of the largest race entries on record. Of these, clients of Key Yachting, racing their J Boats and Grand Soleils made up a significant proportion, both in the fully crewed IRC Classes and also in the Double-Handed Class. Of course enormous credit is bestowed by the team at Key Yachting upon each and every skipper and crew member who arrived on the startline last Sunday to take part, irrespective of their choice of craft. However, one simply cannot fail but notice just how well the Js and Grand Soleils performed overall.

The huge numbers of entries, the massive variance in the type of craft taking part and the disparate sailing experience across the competing crews means that everyone who take part in this epic race can consider themselves a winner. Reviewing the race would be a dream job for any political spin doctor; it just depends on the angle of one’s approach. So, for our purposes here, let’s look at the top twenty overall. That’s the first twenty boats of the entire 300+ fleet under the most widely employed rating system in the world, IRC. In this top twenty, the number of Js and Grand Soleils was six, or put another way, 33% of the top twenty best performing crews in the Fastnet Race were sailing a J Boat or a Grand Soleil.

Topping the Key Yachting Fastnet Leaderboard is Codiam, the Grand Soleil 43 OT of Monsieurs Loday and Nicoleau.  Codiam was seventh overall under IRC, the best performing Grand Soleil in the race and they won Class IRC 1. This is a formidable racing team and this also happens to be their second consecutive win in IRC Class 1 on the Fastnet: they also took the bullet here in 2009. It’s hard enough to win, but even harder to do it twice. This is an absolutely amazing result.

The J/122 Nutmeg IV, owned and raced by Francois Lognone and his crew were the top J Boat overall in the Fastnet 2011. Another seasoned offshore campaigner, this is a well deserved and hard fought result for the French skipper and crew of this forty footer. Eighth overall translates to third in their class: IRC 2.

The Grand Soleil 43 OT, Quokka 8, the current UK IRC National Champion (having achieved eight straight wins around-the-cans back in July) used the Fastnet Race to prove that these beautiful Italian yachts are far more than one-trick ponies. Can they win inshore? Yes they can. How do they do offshore? Very well indeed: Quokka 8 was tenth overall in the Fastnet this year, a result which is all the more commendable because she was being sailed under charter by Philip Falle and his team from Sailing Logic. What a cracking job they did!

Another J/122, Neil Kipling’s Joopster crossed the finish line in very good shape indeed and dug straight in to the overall scores in fourteenth place, Yves Grosjeans’s bright red forty-three foot J/133 Jivaro was just a few steps behind in eighteenth place overall and Chaz Ivill’s Grand Soleil 54 John B closed the Key Yachting Fastnet Top Twenty.

Published in Fastnet
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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. 

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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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