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Displaying items by tag: model yachts

IOM ranking - Birkendhead/UK 5th March

Jeff and Stephen Kay of Howth Yacht Club took part in one of the big racing events in the UK recently. In Birkenhead there were 21 boats altogether and Jeff managed a podium in 3rd place with Stephen ending up with a very respectable 10th place. 

Pretty good results as putting them in perspective in that fleet was the former World champion Rob Walsh and other top ranking skippers at European and World Championships. So a pretty tough bunch of skippers to sail with.

Full results here

2016 IOM Malta Open – Malta 17th-20th March

Stephen then went on to compete at the 2016 Malta Open and recently returned from it.

It was his first serious event with his new Britpop design (he sailed his V9 design at Birkenhead) and while he found his pace to be on part with the top skippers the lack of experience in starts with a full fleet of boats costed him a lot of points. 

Being a small fleet of us here sailing regularly mean that we know each other well and so can becomes 70% match race vs fleet race as we know who is good in what conditions and we have much more room at the start too.

I experienced this also few months ago competing in France. If you allow yourself to get swallowed by the pack on the line you’ll get spit out at the back very quickly. Experience is key there and I can be safe in saying like with any other boat classes, full size or RC the race starts 5 minutes before the actual start.

You need to be quick to react to situation and find plan B or C very quickly too.

Talking to Stephen, the wind was tricky with lots of shifts and puffs and lulls resulting in numerous changes of places throughout each races. This made rounding that first mark ahead so crucial as once the pack arrived that weather mark could become very crowded very quickly and that’s a risk to loose big. An elevated piloting area made it easier for the skippers to see their boats.

There were a number of nationalities at this event which was won by a German followed by 8 UK skippers with the first skipper from Malta finishing 10th. Stephen finished an honorable 23rd out of 42 boats.

This shows the dominance of the UK Skippers in Europe making them one of the toughest fleet. As I said earlier about Birkendhead… to put things in perceptive!

What is also worth mentioning is that if you look at the results it is no long a clear dominance from the Britpop design anymore as there is a clear spread of designs in across the results. Which means that other designers have catch up to Brad’s BP design and leveled the playing field once again providing close racing as we want. Download results below.

Coming up…

Gilbert will be travelling to France and will race at a regatta on the 10th April but with a restored boat so it will be interesting to see the outcome.

Published in Model Boats

Model Yacht Racers finally got a nice day yesterday, Sunday 10th January with a gentle breeze and a fresh but not too cold day in Howth YC for our first racing day of 2016 writes Gilbert Louis.
We had all the usual suspects of the Dublin fleet with Fergal, Des, Stephen, Jeff and I.
We completed 10 races after a bit of training and tuning together on the water.
Jeff came on top with his trusted reinforced Britpop design. Reliable, well-tuned and sailed well he was the man to beat!
Des was the most improved skipper with his homemade Alternative design. He was well up there winning one race but always on the money. Well done Des !
Fergal was back with his now older design Disco but with a new set of sails from New Zealand. And they look the bizneez too ;-) Great to see Fergal back on the water.
Gilbert was out trying a new deeper rudder and new set of sails on his trusted wooden Goth XP from Frank Russell and had a mix day with few handling mistakes. He had a certain liking for the weather mark he rounded a little too close a few times, so much so that he decided to ‘hug’ it for most of the last race while the others were battling for the last race of the day!
Stephen out with his V9, a Ian Vickers design who also had a mix day tasting line honours but missing the last 2 races due to some electrical glitches…
Despite each racing different designs, sails, and their own tuning the sailing was close with all 5 boats arriving close together. You make a mistake! Then you ‘pay cash’, the punishment is instant and with boats of similar performance it is hard to catch up so everyone has to be on top of their game.
We will be back in two weeks for the next round!

Published in Howth YC
25th November 2015

Model Yacht Racing in Cork

I spent last Sunday morning, under a blue sky, with a steady breeze, watching high-tech yachts racing. Impressively beating to the weather mark, reaching and running downwind on a triangle/sausage/triangle course, with a couple of incidents to test the equanimity and rule resources of the Officer of the Day. There were port-and-starboard incidents, a mark-hitting disputed by the Skipper involved but witnessed by his opponents and a T-boning of one yacht by another.

Heady stuff – and not a crew member aboard any of the yachts! There were also several other races in the Winter League without any incidents, but plenty of close competition.

I was with the members of a club which traces its history back to the late 1930s and, after spending several years away from its traditional base, has returned to race there.

Invited by the Club Commodore to the racing, he asked me to wait a few minutes before he was able to talk to me, as he was busy negotiating his yacht around a mark of the course. She was a few hundred yards away from him, but she answered immediately to his deft adjustment of the sails.

model yacht corkRace Officer Aidan Horgan, in yellow Hat, gives the skippers the pre-race briefing

HISTORIC PHOTO CORK MODEL YACHT CLUBHistoric photo of original Cork Model Yacht Club

Impressive stuff as he brought her from an upwind rounding onto a downwind leg, flicked the jib and mainsail out to catch the wind from behind and she began to make speed downwind, a bow wave creaming from her hull, other boats keeping pace, some inching ahead, others trying to luff him, quite legitimately, so that he was constantly adjusting sails to try to stop his boat from being pushed away from the mark.

“Tough competition around here,” said Commodore John Eric Leach as his eight opponents and himself all began to close on the next mark. His fingers were busy on the controls, as were the eighty other fingers of his eight opponents.

I was watching the Cork Model Yacht Club racing on the Lough, a small inland lake on the southern side of Cork City and all those fingers were busy adjusting the controls on a radio box. If one had ever operated a Play Station I thought that would be good experience for the job of yacht controlling this type of yacht.

I was fascinated by this different type of sailing, explained to me by the Commodore and by Aidan Horgan, the club’s Public Relations Officer, who has no experience of real sailing, buy plenty of ability to cope with the modellers. “And I need it,” he chuckled as he declared the results of racing.

It’s worth your while here switching to the Podcast audio to hear these interviews.

I met Con Coughlan, one of the older club members who has built several model yachts and told me of two that stood out in his mind – Moonduster, the yacht of legendary Cork sailor Denis Doyle and NCB Ireland. It took him some time to get the original plans of the Duster, so that he could scale them down. Denis Doyle arranged that for him.

“I built two Moondusters,” Con told me, “because I wanted them not just as models, but to see them race.” He enjoyed building those, but found NCB to be more difficult to model. “It was difficult and had problems to get over when I built the model of NCB,” he said. It had its problems too in sailing in the Round the World Race, I told him, having crewed on it in the last leg of the race for 18 days across the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton.

The Model Yacht Club had sailed at Inniscarra on the River Lee, with the support of the sailing club there for several years, but is now back on its original waters at the Lough and rebuilding the club. As the historic photographs here show, model yachting had big support in Cork on the Lough in past years.

“We sail according to ISA rules,” I was told, “and interest is building. We welcome members to join, this is a great sport.”

The talk over coffee after racing flowed across the development of the boats, from the vintage classes and Marbleheads, those yachts much admired, to the radio controlled sails of today. “In years past boats were pushed out from one side of the Lough to the other, their sails set and the hope being that they would reach the other side. The Lough often used to have to be cleared of weed before racing could start. Now it is different, the City Council has done great work here. We still depend on the wind, but the sails are ready-controlled which adds a great edge to the racing.”

The sailing area has been designated in agreement with the Council, yellow marks laid and racing begins every Sunday morning at 11.30 a.m. There is also sailing on Wednesdays for ‘retired’ club members.

But at the Lough, the Cork Model Yacht Club just wants to enjoy the sport and encourage more enthusiasts.

As interest grows, some former members and older, more mature ‘model sailors’ are talking about returning older, vintage boats, to the water and installing radio control for the sails. A ‘vintage class’ is in the offing.

My thoughts while watching racing at the Lough went back to many years ago when I recall reporting an international model yacht championship at Malahide in Dublin and Commodore Leach told me that there are clubs elsewhere and that Ireland has had representation at international level.

Yachts can be bought from €300 upwards to start in the sport. For top aficionados, such as those involved in international racing, I believe the cost can go into thousands, “cheque book sailing” said one member.

And that’s just like sailing itself, isn’t it?

But at the Lough, the Cork Model Yacht Club, which has its own badge as shown here, just wants to enjoy the sport and encourage more enthusiasts.

For a Winter League, I rather liked the idea of yacht racing without even having to go to sea!

Published in Island Nation
Tagged under

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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