22 May 2015

Half Ton Classics Cup 2015 - Press Release

The 8th edition of the Half Ton Classics Cup will take place from 21 June 2015 in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, which since 2002 has been the new historical homeport of the Half Tonners. After the excellent Half Ton Classics Cups in Cowes (2011), Boulogne-sur-Mer (2013) and Saint-Quay-Portrieux (2014), the Half Tonner fleet will meet again for a week of sailing and celebrations. 
Winner of the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup, Peter Morton's revamped Farr design Swuzzlebubble
After the first edition of the Half Ton Classics Cup in 2003, which started the Ton Cup revivals across the world, a growing interest in Half Tonners has been noticed, causing quite a rush by various teams to acquire a good boat. Some of them have travelled as far as some isolated Greek islands in order to resuscitate an old abandoned boat (but one with a good pedigree). A well maintained Half Tonner easily keeps its value throughout the years and can be raced at the fraction of the cost of a new boat with a crew of 6 to 7. The Half Ton regattas attract a variety of teams: youth teams, teams of older sailors who sometimes remember having sailed in the IOR-era, mixed teams. 
Start of one of the races in the 2014 series
This growing interest in the Half Tonners is particularly evident in Belgium, where a fleet of almost 20 boats is frantically preparing to welcome the foreign visitors. Latest additions to the Belgian fleet are The Red Duke (ex-Golden Shamrock), M'Half'Raz (Joubert/Nivelt 1977 prototype), Farther Bruin (Farr 1977 design) and North Sea Three (Gahinet 1981 design). This last boat is a club boat bought in France by the Royal North Sea YC from Ostend for their 'Start2Race' program. The boat will be sailed by a team of young club sailors for a period of three years.
Golden Shamrock chases Northstar during the 1974 Half Ton Cup - Golden Shamrock (now The Red Duke) is expected to make the startline for the 2015 Half Ton Classics Cup
The organising team is counting on a 35 to 40 boat fleet to line up alongside the pontoons of the Koninklijke Yacht Club in Nieuwpoort, who previously hosted the event in 2003 and in 2009. The KYCN is one of the only clubs in the world to have hosted an edition of all Ton Cups - the Quarter Ton Cup, Half Ton Classics Cup, Three Quarter Ton Cup and One Ton Cup.
Farther Bruin, a 1977 Farr design, is also expected to race in 2015
As in previous editions the local fleet will meet a growing foreign armada from Ireland, France, the UK and Finland. This year it is likely that for the first a Dutch team will enter the series. The strongest contenders for the much coveted Half Ton Classics Trophy, awarded to the series winner, are the Irish team from Dave Cullen sailing on the newly acquired Checkmate XV, the French teams of Jean-Philippe Cau on Sibelius, Nicolas Nadaud on Half Red, and finally Finland's Toni Stoscheck and friends on Superhero. The biggest surprise however could come from a well sailed series boat, in the shape of David Evans' venerable Stephen Jones' designed Hullabaloo, which in 2009 was a very strong runner-up.

Superhero, seen here in the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup
However the main prize of the Series is not going to the best overall on the water performer, but to a team selected just because it is best representing the 'True Half Tonner Spirit', which is quite undefinable but well known to the attending teams. This year the winner of the Half Ton True Spirit Trophy will be decided by the organisation's shore crew team.

The Half Ton Classics Cup can count on the support of various partners, like the KYCN, the Brussels Royal YC, the City of Nieuwpoort, and commercial sponsorship from Ecover, Patagonia, Kleen Kanteen and Euro Car Parks. Other agreements are in the course of being finalised.

The Notice of Race and Entry Form can be found here.

20 May 2015

Quarter Tonners at the 2015 Vice Admiral's Cup

The Vice Admiral's Cup is now firmly established as one the Solent's premier keelboat events, a mix of one-design and IRC racing. In recent years it is has been chosen by the Royal Yachting Association as one of the selection events for the British teams in the Commodores' Cup. The opening day of the 2015 Vice Admiral’s Cup, hosted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club incorporating the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, saw a 35 strong fleet enjoy three exciting light to moderate airs races on 15-17 May. 
Good conditions prevailed for the 2015 Vice Admiral's Cup - overall winner Aguila enjoys fast running conditions on the third day of racing
The evergreen Quarter Ton Class once again provided some of the closest racing of the day and three different race winners. Race one went to Sam Laidlaw aboard Aguila, race two to Rickard Melander sailing Alice II and race three was claimed by Tony Hayward’s Blackfun. Unlike the other fleets, who race one design in this regatta, the Quarter Tonners are sailing under IRC and the corrected finish times were close throughout the fleet, with boats often separated by only one or two seconds. Aguila followed her opening bullet with a pair of seconds and takes the overnight lead with five points. Per Elisa lay in fourth place for the day, with a third and two fourths - the crew were delighted with their day, and after racing Peter MacFarlane said “We’ve never done so well. Of course it helps to have the expertise of North Sail’s Neil Mackley on board, but we were delighted with how well the boat went. She has a new keel and rudder which have transformed her upwind. We’re looking forward to tomorrow and just hope we can keep it up!” 
Espada on port tack sails behind Per Elisa (GBR-222R) and Illegal Immigrant (GBR-501)
Close racing continued on the second day. Although they scored a seventh in race five, Sam Laidlaw and his crew aboard Aguila were able to discard that result and add two further firsts and a second to their overall score, giving them a total of nine points to count and a six point lead. Blackfun was in exceptional form and put in a 4/1/1/3 score for the day, putting them on equal points with Alice II. Louise Morton's Bullit (reigning Quarter Ton champion) also had a good day pulling up from fifth overall to fourth at the expense of Per Elisa, which counted a disappointing eighth and sixth in the day's racing. 
Winner of Class 4 (Quarter Tonners) in the 2015 Vice Admiral's Cup Aguila, runs downwind behind Illegal Immigrant (left) and Per Elisa (right)
For the final day the fleet was as tightly packed as ever and arrived at the first mark of race eight en-mass. With a strong ebb tide running there were some close judgement calls to be made as they rounded the spreader mark and gybed back into the Bramble Bank to escape the current. In the melee several boats including Blackfun and Julian Metherell's Espada found themselves infringing and were forced to make penalty turns as the rest of the fleet streamed off downwind. Although they did their best to make up lost ground they were unable to recover and finished the race 11th and 10th respectively. Up ahead of them Alice II romped in for race victory with Bullit second and overall leader Aquila third. 

Going into the final race Aguila held a four point lead over Alice II with Blackfun third and Bullit fourth. Bullit threw everything they had into the final race and were rewarded with their first victory of the regatta, beating Eric Reynolds' Magnum Evolution by 16 seconds. A further 16 seconds separated third to sixth place with Aguila, Blackfun, Alice II and William McNeill's Illegal Immigrant finishing in that order on corrected time. In the overall standings Sam Laidlaw and Aguila claimed victory by six points from Alice II with Blackfun third and Bullit fourth.

- Compiled from RORC Press Releases (Fiona Brown) 16-18 May 2015

18 May 2015

Ian Gibbs, Admiral's Cup champion dies at 87

Gibbs's standout performer Swuzzlebubble III - seen here on her way to being the top yacht in the New Zealand Admiral's Cup trials in 1981, and went on to take individual honours in the Cup itself (photo P Montgomery/Sail-world)

Sail-World reports today that Ian Gibbs, one of New Zealand's top offshore owner/skippers, has died at the age of 87 years. 
In a 20 year period Gibbs competed very actively and with considerable success in major international regattas in the offshore rating classes - principally in Half-Tonners, and then in the Admiral's Cup, sailed from Cowes, Isle of Wight. The now defunct Admiral's Cup was widely regarded as the World Championship of offshore racing. 

Gibbs' Swuzzlebubble IV during the 1983 Admiral's Cup
Gibbs skippered his yacht Swuzzlebubble III to be the top individual boat in the 1981 event, and sailing a chartered sistership was the top New Zealand competitor in the 1983 Admiral's Cup. He was well performed in four Half Ton Cups, most notably with Swuzzlebubble I/II in the 1977 and 1979 events. 

Previous articles and tributes to Gibbs' many campaigns during the heyday of New Zealand offshore yachting can be found by clicking on the "Ian Gibbs" label below.
Gibbs' last offshore racing yacht, his Mumm 36 Swuzzlebubble 9, seen here during the 1994 Kenwood Cup in Hawaii (Gibbs can be seen on the leeward side of the cockpit aft)

7 May 2015

Propaganda - found!

The legendary New Zealand yacht Propaganda has been found - thanks to a post on the One Ton Class page, it appears that Propaganda is located in Hakata, Japan (photo below, 2015, and photo left from 1995). The paintjob is a little different, but she still sports her original Sparcraft spars.

Propaganda, a Farr-designed One Tonner, was the top individual yacht in the 1987 Admiral's Cup, and formed part of the winning New Zealand team of that year, along with Kiwi and Goldcorp. She went on to win the 1988 One Ton Cup in convincing style, before again competing for New Zealand in the 1989 Admiral's Cup.

The history of Propaganda over that 1987-89 period can be seen here.

26 April 2015

Smiles (J/41 One Tonner)

Smiles was one of about twenty J/41's that were built by J/Boats between 1984 and 1987, and were notable campaigners in the IOR scene in the US over that period. The J/41, designed by Rod Johnstone, was designed to rate as a One Tonner (30.5ft IOR), with a different shape to many of its peers, with a notable rocker, fine ends and low wetted surface, giving it an edge in light airs.

The design first came to prominence in the 1984 SORC, when Dazzler finished third in Class E and third overall, while a fractional-rigged version Alethea finished fourth in class and fifth overall (Alethea and Dazzler were both built by Tillotson and Pearson in a bare nine weeks). The masthead design carried a bit more ballast than the fractional variation, while Alethea carried a larger headsail and smaller mainsail than other fractionally rigged boats of the size.

Smiles in the marina, displaying some IOR optimised bow-down trim (photo Histoiredeshalfs)
The J/41's followed up their 1984 SORC success by taking the first three places in the  USYRU North American One Ton Championships, with Charlie Scott's Smiles winning, followed by Road Warrior, owned and skippered by America's Cup yachtsman John Kolius, with Dazzler taking third. Smiles followed up her One Ton Championship performance by winning the Onion Patch Trophy that year.
The crew coax Smiles along upwind in moderate breeze during the 1985 SORC (photo Histoiredeshalfs)
 Smiles went on to win the 1985 SORC overall - a large calm some 60 miles from the finish of the Miami-Nassau race benefited the smaller boats such as the One Tonners and gave Smiles a significant points edge over her larger competition. Indeed, the weather in the 1985 series was lighter than usual and this ideally suited the light air orientation of the J/41 design. 
Smiles powers along downwind with spinnaker and blooper set (photo Histoiredeshalfs)
The win by Smiles was an impressive result for a production boat and caused some consternation for the many custom boat owners. Scott had even finished Smiles himself, although he went to some effort to centralise the deck equipment and the internal arrangement amidships to minimise weight in the ends.
Smiles (above and below) sails upwind during the 1985 SORC

21 April 2015

Kiwi (Farr 43) - for sale

Kiwi, a Farr 43 and member of the winning New Zealand team in the 1987 Admiral's Cup, is now for sale. She is located in Norddeutschland, Germany, and now named Vincemus. The history of Kiwi is in this earlier article here, and sale details can be seen here. She looks in original and well-maintained condition, and according to the advertisement she has had a repaint in 2012.
Recent photos of Kiwi, now Vincemus - she still sports one of her original headsails from her 1987 and 1989 Admiral's Cup campaigns (below)

19 April 2015

Jockey Club (Billoch One Tonner)

Jockey Club (A 3232) was an interesting, if unsuccessful, One Tonner from the design board of Martin Billoch. She was designed and built in 1989 for the One Ton Cup and to compete in the Argentinian team for the Admiral's Cup in the same year.
Jockey Club sails upwind in the Solent during prior to the 1989 Admiral's Cup
While Jockey Club carried a conventional rig in terms of spar manufacture (Sparcraft) and sails (Norths), the yacht had a number of obvious differences from the typical One Tonners of the period, with her rig set reasonably far aft, with the forestay well inset from the stem and the boom overhanging the deck/transom line. This meant that the cabin top mostly sat for'ard of the mast, and appeared to require an aftward extension to the cabin top to provide space for the companionway area. It also seems from the photo below that the vang strut was attached to the mast below the cabin profile.  One can assume that the internal accommodation was somewhat compromised as a result of this arrangement.
Jockey Club heads out of Lymington Marina on her way to a race during the 1989 Admiral's Cup - note the aftwards placement of her rig, and stepped cabin-top profile
The hull featured an attractive sheer, not dissimilar to earlier European One Tonners, but did not take advantage of IOR rule changes that had been invoked for the 1989 season that allowed a more upright transom arrangement that did not affect the measurement of the after girth stations. Jockey Club displayed the typical IOR hard point in the topside area of the maximum beam measurement, and this was married to an apparent concavity in the stern area with possibly less of a bustle around the skeg.
Jockey Club sailing upwind in the Solent off Hurst Castle
These design characteristics did not point to a new trend for One Tonners, as Jockey Club put in only a very modest performance in the 1989 One Ton Cup in Naples, finishing 22nd of 28 boats, with placings of 25/24/27 in the first three races, before showing some improvement to finish with a 13th and 12th in the final two races.
Jockey Club sails her way back to Lymington Marina (note the aft rake in her rig)
Three months later Jockey Club joined team-mates Daphne and Tango Too in the 1989 Admiral's Cup, racing with a slightly increased rating of 30.66ft. Unfortunately Jockey Club was again an also-ran, finishing 37th of 42 boats in the series (with placings of 33/38/27/18/36/38), and 17th (of 22) One Tonner. Her team-mates were equally unspectacular and the Argentine team finished in last place.

All photographs are from the Shockwave40 blog.