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Nigel Biggs on his newly-refurbished Checkmate XVIII leads the Euro Car Parks Half Ton Classics Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club after a rain-soaked opening day but only two points separate first to fourth places.

Although Phil Plumtree’s two-times past champion Swuzzlebubble had impressive leads on the water, IRC handicapping greatly levelled the playing-field and the iconic Kiwi yacht by designer Bruce Farr could only muster a win in the opening race before scoring second and eighth places for the rest of the day and lies third overall.

In contrast, Biggs had two fourth places and a second while Paul Pullen’s Miss Whiplash had a 3-3-4 day and only missed being overnight leader on the tie-break with Checkmate XVIII.

Of the host nation, a win in the third race for Howth Yacht Club’s Michael and Ritchie Evans on The Big Picture transformed their day after earlier sixth and fifth places. Fourth overall puts them two points ahead of their clubmate David Cullen on Checkmate XV who also had a race win to counter and eighth and a fifth during the day.

“Before the first race, I thought it would be easy to pick the eventual winner but after today I’m not so sure,” Cullen said. “The standard is definitely much higher and probably the most competitive half-ton fleet we have seen in years.”

Of the conditions, the only dryness were the remarks by visitors of the irony that the committee boat’s name is ‘Irish Mist’ on a soaking wet day with a moderate breeze that built to 20 knots by the final race. Principal Race Officer Anthony O’Leary promised quick windward-leeward races of under an hour and a 0.8-mile beat ensured a fast programme.

The prospect of clear skies and breeze for Day 2 will see another three windward-leeward races in place of the planned coastal race as near gale conditions forecast for Wednesday may disrupt the event programme.

The fleet has been reduced by one boat as Superhero by owned Toni Stoschek and Janne Tulokas was dismasted in race two. The class had previously rallied to ensure Finnish crew would make the start-line after their original mast was wrecked when a HGV reversed into it while waiting to board a ferry in Holyhead.

The Half Ton spirit is especially in the mind of class President Philippe Pilatte of General Tapioca, currently lying seventh overall. “With a good team and good sails, it is possible to race a 40-year old boat competitively,” he said. “It’s all part of the history of yacht racing and keeping it alive; it is ‘competition with roots.’” Feeding back information to the IRC Rating office to help older boats remain competitive with modern designs is also a class priority.

EURO CAR PARKS HALF TON CLASSICS CUP 2017 (at Kinsale YC, Ireland)
Top six overall standings after Day 1 - three races (21 entries)
1 Checkmate XVIII Nigel Biggs (UK)
2 Miss Whiplash Paul Pullen (UK)
3 Swuzzlebubble Phil Plumtree (UK)
4 The Big Picture Michael & Richard Evans (Ireland)
5 Checkmate XV Dave Cullen (Ireland)
6 Headhunter Paul Wayte (UK)

Published in Half Tonners

As the 21-strong fleet (just two down from expectations in March) for the Euro Car Parks Half Ton Classics Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club prepares for race one this morning, a race against time has been ongoing since Friday to ensure one boat would make the start.

Finland’s Toni Stoschek and Janne Tulokas were en route to Ireland with Superhero earlier in the week when an articulated lorry accidentally reversed into their mast while queuing for the ferry crossing.

The badly bent spar was beyond salvage or repair and for a time it seemed the journey to Ireland would be wasted.

However, the class rallied and the hunt began for a replacement. In a major logistical operation, a spare mast was loaned by King One and transported by Nigel Biggs of Checkmate XVIII by road across the UK and travelled by ferry to Rosslare where it was collected by Paul Cullen of Miss Whiplash, arriving in Kinsale on Saturday morning.

By Sunday’s practice race, Superhero was just able to make the starting-line after some rig tuning. “We hope that we can mix it up with the best despite our… slow start,” said Stoschek.

Conditions at Kinsale are expected to deliver a full range of wind for the coming five days, from light airs to near gale at times. Three windward-leeward races per day are planned while the coastal race intended for Tuesday may be amended to ensure a full race programme is completed.

Phil Plumtree’s Swuzzlebubble is the pre-regatta following on two previous title wins though three new boats and an increasingly competitive fleet could yet upset the running-order.

Published in Half Tonners

With a 21-strong record entry, three new boats, a formidable defending title-holder and a two-times runner-up all in the mix, next month’s Euro Car Parks sponsored Half Ton Classics Cup has all the ingredients for a memorable championship from Sunday 13th to Friday 18th August 2017 at Kinsale Yacht Club.

New owner Phil Plumtree will carry on Swuzzlebubble's pedigree and will be aiming to make 2017 her third title win since successfully launching in 2014 under Peter Morton. Greg Peck followed this with victory again in 2016 so on paper appears to present a huge challenge and a good reason to be the bookies favourite.

DSC 1393Kinsale’s own new Half Tonner Cortegada (George Radley) Photo: Bob Bateman

But three new boats represent unknown challenges and include Checkmate XVIII owned by Nigel Biggs, Paul Wayte’s brand new un-raced Headhunter and Kinsale’s own George Radley whose new Half Tonner Cortegada should have the edge for local knowledge.

DSC 1393Checkmate XVIII skippered by Nigel Biggs Photo: Bob Bateman

However, a handful of other contenders could yet upset the form guide.

DSC 1393Mike Evans skippers 'The Big Picture' from Howth Yacht Club. Photo: Bob Bateman

Trastada from Scotland also has a strong track-record as does General Tapioca from Belgium that has several titles under her belt. The Kinsale championship represents unfinished business for Paul Pullen’s gorgeous Falmouth entry Miss Whiplash who has been runner-up for the last two years and he will be on a mission to take the Cup in 2017. There are also six Irish boats participating, all of whom have had success but Dave Cullen’s recent victories on Checkmate XV at Dun Laoghaire Regatta and the Sovereigns Cup places him best of the home fleet.

Half Tonner Trasdata 0651Trastada from Scotland competed in Dublin Bay waters at Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie

Amongst the six nations taking part, Finland will be represented by Superhero that is campaigned by long-standing Finnish Sailors Toni Stoscheck and Janne Tukolas.

Meanwhile, the ethos of the class will also be to the fore as the “True Spirit Award” remains the ultimate accolade for the boat that encompasses the spirit of the Half Ton Class and is open to any boat to win. “Gladiatorial on the water but best friends ashore” the class has a unique spirit where everyone shares and helps each other while protests are seriously frowned upon.

Pre-event front-runners for the award include Ian Van Burm’s beautiful evergreen wooden Half Tonner Fantasy and previously demonstrated the class spirit by sailing to the 2007 event in Dublin all the way from Belgium. Patrick Dijoud’s Pivoine will arrive by sea this year from France as the class’s newest addition.

One thing all of the teams are guaranteed is competitive racing under the stewardship of PRO Anthony O’Leary, plus a huge welcome from Kinsale Yacht Club and a week-long party that few will forget.

As well as being one of the most picturesque locations in Europe, Kinsale YC as the host venue is situated in the heart of Ireland’s culinary capital and is an area steeped in maritime history.

Published in Half Tonners

After yesterday's cancellations due to strong winds, 2017's O'Leary Life Sovereign's Cup concluded in fine style off Kinsale today.

Bob Bateman captured the final races for Afloat.ie. See the gallery below.

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Published in Sovereign's Cup

Rob McConnell’s Fool’s Gold from Waterford Harbour Sailing Club won both races of the first day of the O'Leary Life Sovereign's Cup in Division One, the largest fleet in the event with 18 entries, a result only matched elsewhere in the 98–boat fleet in the White Sails Division 2 fleet where Stephanie Ennis’ Club Shamrock Demelza also had two wins.

See Bob Bateman's full day one photo gallery here. Overall results are here.

At the Kinsale Yacht Club venue, fog gave way to light winds, broken sunshine and flat seas to allow for a full programme of yesterday's opening day races to be sailed on four course areas. At stake is the Sovereigns Cup for the best performing boat on IRC handicap alongside the Portcullis Trophy for the best boat on Progressive ECHO handicap.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleDemelza leads in the White Sails class at the Sovereigns Cup Photo: Bob Bateman

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleRob McConnell's Fools Gold scored two wins at the Sovereigns Cup off Kinsale Photo: Bob Bateman

At this early stage, few of the nine divisions racing have clear leaders and with the prospect of fresh to strong winds for the next two days, a full test in all conditions is likely to bring the final results down to the wire for Saturday’s finale. Afloat.ie has stuck its neck out and offered its predictions on the overall results here.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleHowth Yacht Club's 'The Big Picture' is lying in joint first place in Class Two. Photo: Bob Bateman

In Division 2, the second largest fleet on the course, the top three boats are within one point of each other while the chasing pack aren’t lagging too far behind either. Kieran Collins’ Coracle IV leads after winning the opening race before placing fifth in the second and lies level with Howth’s Richard Evans on The Big Picture.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleA fleet of six Half Tonners at the Sovereigns Cup is making class two very competitive Photo: Bob Bateman

“It’s a very competitive class, especially with six or seven half-tonners,” said Finbarr O’Regan, skipper of Artful Dodger of Kinsale YC. “There isn’t a bad boat in the class and it’s definitely going to a high-scoring event - a lot of people have had a good and a bad race.”

Sovereign's Cup Kinsale SailingGeorge Sisk's Wow, a former ICRA Boat of the Year, is competing in the coastal class. Photo: Bob Bateman

Although George Sisk’s Wow! from the Royal Irish Yacht Club led the Coastal Class fleet from the start, the Dun Laoghaire crew was unable to shake off the chasing pack and a finishing-line error ensured that Conor Doyle’s Freya took the first result of the series.

The opening day was shorter than the remainder of the series and the coastal course was more of an extended round the cans style race but with the full schedule planned for Thursday, a much longer course can be expected – dependent on weather.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleThe 1720 Sportsboat European Championships is being sailed as part of the Sovereign's Cup Photo: Bob Bateman

In the 1720 Sportsboat European Championships that is being sailed as part of the main regatta, a luffing match between father and son in race one saw Olympic sailor Peter O’Leary defeat his father Anthony to take first place. However, O’Leary senior was the more consistent over the three races and is the clear overnight leader.

In turn, the younger O’Leary holds second overall but only on tie-break from Tom Durcan’s T-Bone on level points. Ben Cooke’s Smile n ‘Wave doing well in the final race until they were inadvertently sailed off the course by another boat struggling to drop their kite and slipped down the rankings. Like Peter O’Leary, Cooke is counting a ninth place so far.

Published in Sovereign's Cup

With about 100–boats entered for the first races of O'Leary Life & Pensions Sovereigns Cup this afternoon, there are plenty of good boats capable of winning in each class in Kinsale's biennial Grand Prix Regatta.

Sticking its neck out, here are Afloat's class predictions for overall wins by Saturday.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsale ICRA Class Zero Champion Dark Angel from Swansea Photo: Bob Bateman

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleJohnny Mordaunt's Mat design from the Solent in today's first race of the Sovereign's Cup.  This is the latest Mark Mills Design MAT1180 Tschuss, originally from the US.Photo: Bob Bateman

Class 0 Only 4 boats in this class. Johnny Mordaunt's Mat design from the Solent has chosen to miss the UK IRC Nationals starting today and instead compete in Kinsale. He should be favourite but expect to see ICRA Class Zero Champion Dark Angel from Swansea also in the mix.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleTim Goodbody's J109 White Mischief from the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dublin. Photo: Bob Bateman

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleToday's Class One start at the Sovereigns Cup. Photo Bob Bateman

Class One 10 J109's are entered including Joker II, recently crowned ICRA champion for the third successive year. However with Joker's normal tactician Mark Mansfield not sailing on her this week, some might expect to see Pat Kelly's Scottish Series Champion Storm from Rush Sailing Club right up there, particularly in the windier conditions. Rob McConnell's Fools Gold will also be in contention as will Tim Goodbody's White Mischief. In a likely mixed wind regatta, we will put our money on Fools Gold by a hair.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleNigel Biggs newly renovated Checkmate XVIII made its Irish debut today at Kinsale. Photo: Bob Bateman

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleMike and Richard Evans Half Tonner Big Picture from Howth Yacht Club. Photo: Bob Bateman

Class Two includes a very broad range of boats including 5 half tonners working up towards the half ton worlds in August. It includes Nigel Biggs newly renovated Checkmate XVIII.  In the lighter early week conditions the half tonners should have the edge and Mike and Richard Evans Big Picture, with Mark Mansfield as tactician should find the conditions to their liking but Harmony owned by Johnny Swann and Dave Cullen's Checkmate will have something to say about this. In heavier conditions, later in the week, Ross McDonald's Equinox should be to the fore. Overall, in the likely two days of lighter winds and two windier days, expect one of the half tonners to shade it and watch out for the newly launched Checkmate XVIII. He rarely finishes far down the pecking order.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleX302 Dux from Howth

Class Three Not a large class and expect one of the X302s to take this, likely Dux from Howth Yacht Club.

Class Four Will likely go to a quarter Tonner with three entered including Anchor Challenge recently crowned ICRA class 3 champion. In this event she is being sailed by Dave Dwyer and not her normal crew but she will be potent in lighter airs. Ken Lawless in Cartoon from Dublin Bay Sailing Club may just shade it however in mixed conditions.

Sovereigns_Cup_Yachts_kinsaleAnthony O'Leary competing in the 1720 Wet'n'Ready in today's first Sovereign's Cup race. Photo: Bob Bateman

1720 class –12 entered. This is the class European Championships. Expect an O'Leary (either Anthony or Peter) to take this.  Peter is likely to have the edge in the lighter early week conditions and Anthony in the windier stuff. Expect Peter to hold out and take it by a slim margin.

See Day One Photo Gallery here

Published in Sovereign's Cup

Kinsale Yacht Club's postponed Bertoletti Trophy Race – staged annually in memory of club steward Mario Bertoletti – was held last night, ideal timing for a last minute tune–up before Kinsale's big event of the the season, the O'Leary Life and Pensions Sovereign's Cup that starts this Wednesday afternoon. Read WM Nixon's preview on Afloat.ie here

Bob Bateman captured the cruiser–racing action last night in Kinsale Harbour

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Published in Kinsale
Tagged under

The people of Ireland – sailors and farmers alike - are gasping for a bit of real summer. But with Met Eireann predicting that next week will be favourable for hay-making, there’s a dilemma for grassland farmers who like a bit of sailing writes W M Nixon.

The top line of attention in Irish sailing is definitely not turning towards haymaking. On the contrary, it’s looking very much to Kinsale and the biennial Sovereigns Cup Regatta. This year’s O’Leary Life-sponsored staging of the popular event starts next Wednesday afternoon – June 21st – and continues until Saturday June 24th. That’s spot on the traditional Mid-summers Day, when Kinsale is usually looking its very best - so much so that they even have a pretty little place on the harbour called Summercove.

The thought of sailing serenely past Summercove into Kinsale YC’s welcoming marina sounds very good indeed to the cruiser-racer fraternity just now. After being battered briefly but frequently during the ICRA Nationals at Crosshaven a week ago, and then battered longterm in the 275-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race which started on Wednesday evening and still has some of the surviving fleet finishing through today, the thought of smooth sailing past Summercove, with all those hospitality options close ahead in Kinsale, is very attractive and then some.

kinsale marina2The location of the Kinsale YC marina offers immediate access to the facilities of a bustling town

And there’s always the beguiling possibility that the 94-strong fleet will have excellent but not too ferocious racing, for it’s emphasized that this is a regatta, and not a championship, national or otherwise. Thus in addition to the cruiser-racer divisions, the option of other classes is available, while the new headline sponsors have provided the O’Leary Trophy for the Family Boat Award, the best-sailed boat with a family crew.

As for the social programme, wall-to-wall is a phrase that springs to mind. Club groups from elsewhere book their accommodation maybe years in advance in order to be sure of having the most convenient access to the club, the marina, and the many fabulous eating places, pubs and party venues in the town. So it’s not surprising that for many sailors from abroad, Kinsale sailing IS Irish sailing.

squib kinsaleKinsale’s large selection of boats includes a thriving class of Squibs

Thus after other events during July, the next big one up on the Kinsale fixtures list is the World Half Ton Classics from 14th to 17th August. Kinsale does not have a significant Half Ton Classic element in its own fleet, but when the Irish Half Ton Classics Association was told that 2017 was to be their slot and which port did they wish to use, the almost-immediate choice was Kinsale with its wide selection of places to stay, and it has clearly hit the target - already the potential fleet is pushing towards the 30 mark.

But that’s in August, meanwhile in celebrating the Sovereigns Cup regatta which originally was the brainchild of Kinsale-based sailing handicap numbers ace Denis Kiely more than 25 years ago, let’s cast a final eye back to 2015 and its winners’ list, when they carried out the tricky experiment of combining it with the ICRA Nats.

demelza kinsale4The veteran Club Shamrock Demelza (Windsor Laudan & Steph Ennis) had a run of wins at the Sovereigns Cup in 2015, and she’ll be back in Kinsale next week to defend her title

Division 0 IRC winner was George Sisk’s Farr 42 WOW from Conor Phelan’s Ker 37 Jump Juice, with the Nobby Reilly/Alan Chambers Mills 36 Crazy Horse third. Division 1 IRC was John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II from Rob McConnell’s A35 Fools’ Gold, with Ian Nagle’s J/109 Jelly Baby third. Div 2 winner was Ross McDonald’s X332 Equinox from Dave Cullen’s Half Tonner Checkmate XV, while third was Jonny Swann’s Half Tonner Harmony.

Div 3 champion was the Corby 25 Fusion (Richard Colwell & Ronan Cobbe) from Tim Goodbody’s Sigma 33 White Mischief, with the Desmers/Ivers/Deasy Sunfast 32 Bad Company was third.

Division 4 was taken by the Howth YC club-owned junior crew-sailed J/24 Kilcullen, with the Quarter Tonner Quest (Barry Cunningham) second, and Donal Harding’s Albin Express White Magic third, while the non-spinnaker Div A was won by Colm Bermingham’s Elan 333 Bite the Bullet from Paul Tully’s sister-ship White Lotus. Non-spinnaker Division B was dominated with a run of bullets by Windsor Laudan and Steph Ennis with the veteran Club Shamrock Demelza, an impressive display.

Once the Sovereigns Cup bug has bitten, you stay bitten, and most of those owners from two years ago – some of them now in bigger boats – will be there next Wednesday to enjoy the Kinsale buzz again. But as this evidence of proper summer finally arriving takes over our thinking, it’s time to spare a thought for those who will be spending this weekend in more rugged pursuits.

Conor fogerty5Conor Fogerty has been putting in a world class performance in the OSTAR, and currently leads his sister-ship by 385 miles. Photo: W M Nixon

fogerty bam6This is the kind of numbers Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! carries when fully crewed, which makes his successful single-handing of the same boat even more impressive

Top among them is Conor Fogerty, who has been sailing an absolute blinder in his Sunfast 3600 Bam in the OSTAR – the Original Singlehanded Transatlantic race. Although the leader Andrea Mura in the very much larger Open 60 Vento di Sardegna is already finished in Newport, Rhode Island, Fogerty is currently the favourite to win the Gypsy Moth Trophy which is the very essence of this historic event. He may even manage to be second on line honours, and has worked out an astonishing lead of 385 miles on his closest direct rival, Mark Hipgrave in the other Sunfast 3600 Mister Lucky.

As for our other noted single-hander Tom Dolan, he’s in a different scenario starting tomorrow, the two-handed Mini-Fastnet from Douarnenez round the famous rock, racing Mini 650s. His crew is his regular shipmate Francois Jambou, and for those concerned about keeping up fleet numbers elsewhere, it’s of interest to note that for the 2017 Mini-Fastnet the organisers have had to limit fleet numbers to a manageable 70 boats, and they had to set that limit quite some time ago, so keen were people to take part.

dolan jambou7Tom Dolan (right) starts tomorrow in the two-handed Mini-Fastnet from Brittany with Francois Jambou as his shipmate in the Pogo 2

minis gather8The Minis start to assemble for tomorrow’s Mini-Fastnet. Interest was so igh from an early stage that the oriagnsiers had to linit the fleet to 70 boats at an early stage

All this can be rugged stuff, but we hope that conditions are benign for this weekend’s festival of Classic and Traditional Craft in Crosshaven. For there at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, they have a modern classic which is the focus of much well-earned attention.

This is the greatly modified Etchells 22 which Bill Trafford of the very appropriately named Alchemy Marine, up at Skenakilla near Mitchelstown in North Cork, has transformed into a perfect little weekend cruiser. We’ve carried the continuing story of this Etchells transformation during the past year, but everyone has waited with bated breath for news of the first sail, and how she performed.

etchells guapa9New girl in the block at Crosshaven. Somewhere in there is a former Etchells 22. Photo: Bill Trafford

It’s only this week they’ve completed the rigging and sail-setting in Crosshaven, and Bill Trafford was hoping for more summery conditions to take his latest creation out for the first time. But Des McWilliam turned up with an absolutely lovely suit of sails on Wednesday evening, and with a “never mind the weather, we’re in the shelter of the harbour” attitude, they took Guapa out for her first spin.

etchells guapa10The concept of the re-configured Etchells 22 is so complete that she has every appearance of being a totally new boat. Photo: Bill Trafford

The reactions were somewhere beyond the merely rapturous. Des McWilliam would not be backwards in coming forward in telling you if he thought your boat didn’t make the grade, but he waxed lyrical with joy at the transformed boat’s ease of effortlessly making seven-plus knots, “sitting in style in your little bit of Chippendale”.

As for helming characteristics, despite the rudder being moved all of two feet aft to accommodate the new cockpit/cabin layout, the word is that she balances a treat. “Weather helm is just on three degrees” reports Des, “which I’d regard as about perfect”.

We’ve followed this intriguing story with fascination. Now that it turns out to be a good news story – and a really good news story at that – great credit is reflected on all involved, as an Etchells modification has never been taken this far before. But as ever with Bill Trafford, the question is: What next?

etchells guapa11Sailmaker Des McWilliam’s big grin (right) says it all as Guapa takes her first sail. Photo: Bill Trafford

Published in W M Nixon

A new 'Family Boat Award' will be presented to the best placed boat with two or more direct family members sailing on board at June's Sovereign's Cup off Kinsale. 

Kinsale Yacht Club Regatta Director Mike Walsh, announcing the award said 'We encourage competitors to bring their families to Kinsale and enjoy our magnificent town. That is why we put such an emphasis on the day time and social shore side activities of the event'.

Up to 100 boats are expected to compete in the biennial event that runs from June 21st. More on the event here.

Published in Sovereign's Cup

142 boats across the 3 fleets are confirmed for this weekend's Munster Optimist Championships at Kinsale Yacht Club this weekend.

Six races are scheduled over the two days. The Senior and Junior fleets will race outside the harbour, weather permitting, with Principal Race Officer John Stallard at the helm while the Regatta Fleet will race in the outer harbour with Race Officer Siobhan Keane Hopcraft in charge of them.

As with all junior sailing events an enormous amount of support is required both on and off the water. A flotilla of Committee Boats, Mother Ships and support RIB’s plus the Dinghy Park will be manned by the many volunteers who are helping to make the event happen.

Kinsale Yacht Club has a very strong and active Optimist Class. The ever popular Christmas Regatta in December attracted an entry of 35 boats from a wide variety of clubs.

Published in Kinsale
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