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A retro class of sailing boats will give a shot in the arm to the two major south-coast regattas this June. Although its heyday was 30 years ago, the revitalised Quarter Ton class in Britain and Ireland, is experiencing a new lease of life.

Up to 25 Quarter Tonners have signed up for Cork harbour's Irish Cruiser (ICRA) National Championships and the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale – only a week separates the two fixtures. (Latest Sovereigns Cup news here)

The budget-minded class has been back building numbers steadily since 2001 when Peter Morton revived the class on the south coast of England. Now over 40 boats compete in Britain and up to 10 will visit Cork this summer after a successful trial here two years ago.

From June 17th they'll go head to head with a number of hot Irish campaigns that have emerged in the last 12 months, including the host port's "Tiger" (O'Brien, Kenefick and Kenefick), Eamon Rohan's recently refurbished Anchor Challenge and Dún Laoghaire's Supernova, skippered by Ken Lawless.

anchor_challenge1

The crew of Anchor Challenge Complete a gybe. Photo: Bob Bateman

 

For this year's event, some of these dated 24-26 footers are being pulled from hedgerows and fields rather than building new ones.

Last raced in the 1980s, others are getting the full make-over and have been extensively remodelled for today's IRC handicap rule.

"Budget sailing with five friends, that's the ethos", claims Kinsale skipper Ian Travers about the style of the passe class.

The current fleet contains boats from €6,000 to €30,000, the more expensive boats having extensive optimisation and new sail plans.

It's well within the rules to alter rudders and keels but hull shapes must stay original.

To qualify to race in the Quarter Ton cup, a boat must fall within the old IOR rule or be a production boat derivative. This means many mainstream class-three craft such as Farr 727s, GK24s, Starflash 26s and Boleros all qualify.

Travers reckons therefore a potential Irish fleet could reach 50 boats, if enough owners showed interest.

One boat of particular interest in June will be "Black Fun" a fully refurbished and IRC optimised 1977 Laurie Davidson- designed Quarter Tonner.

Back then she was the top Quarter Tonner in New Zealand but for financial reasons did not make the journey to Finland to compete in the Quarter Ton Cup that year. Now, 34 years later, the current owners are shipping her from New Zealand to compete in this year's cup in Cowes in July but beforehand will compete in both Irish regattas as warm-ups.

And in further good news for the ICRA event a west coast cruiser fleet have confirmed that at least 15 boats will be entering the national championships.


Published in Sovereign's Cup

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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