15 January 2019

Locura - reborn

It was great to hear from Mathieu in Naples, France, who is putting the final touches on what looks like a very comprehensive restoration of the Soverel 43, Locura, famous for her Class D win at the 1983 SORC, and which went on to compete for the US team in the 1983 Admiral's Cup.  Details of her history over that period can be seen hereLocura is due to go back in the water in the next month or two.

Locura seen here during the 1983 SORC

3 November 2018

Magic Bus - Relaunched!

After an amazing restoration effort, the Paul Whiting-designed Magic Bus, winner of the 1976 Quarter Ton Cup, was relaunched at Milford Marina in Auckland on 3 November 2018, and recently featured on TV One news.  The story of Magic Bus can be seen in earlier articles here, along with part of her restoration here.
Preparing to go back in the water
In the water and floating high at the bow without her internal ballast yet fitted. Magic Bus retains her original lines, appendages and rig
Magic Bus, back in the water at Milford Marina 

The deck and cockpit layout (above and below) remains original, but with new lines and fittings

A piece of New Zealand sailing history - reborn 

27 August 2018

Half Ton Classics Cup 2018

Checkmate XV, winner of the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup, rounds a windward mark on Day 2 of the series (all photos from the Half Ton Classics Cup website)
With a convincing win in the final spectacular race run in glorious sunshine and big seas off Nieuwpoort, Checkmate XV (1985 Humphreys) and her crew of owner David Cullen, Darragh O’Connor, Nin O’Leary, Jonathan Sargent, Aidan Beggan, Niki Potterton and Frank Rothchild of the Howth Yacht Club claimed a well deserved overall victory in the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup. For Checkmate XV this was the third time she had earnt the right to have her name engraved on the Half Ton Classics Cup (equalling the legendary Swuzzlebubble’s record) and for David and his team is was their second win, the first also being here in Nieuwpoort in 2015.
Checkmate XV seen here on a busy startline on the first day of racing
The final race was a cracker, sailed in a 14-16 knot westerly, huge seas and glorious sunshine. The first start was recalled so Race Officer Paul Charlier pulled out the U Flag and on the second attempt everyone behaved. It was nip and tuck all the way with Robbie Tregear’s Per Elisa (1992 Ceccarelli) initially heading the fleet from Philippe Pilate’s General Tapioca (1978 Berret), Checkmate XV, Toni Stoschek & Janne Tukolas’ Superhero (1988 Andrieu), Tom Florizoone’s Red Cloud (1981 Joubert), Paul Wayte’s Headhunter (1984 Van de Stadt) and Jonny Swan’s Harmony (1980 Humphreys). But the Irish team dug deep and by the final turn for home Checkmate XV had a decent lead with Per Elisa, Harmony and General Tapioca now hard on her heels. 
Red Cloud (fifth overall) powers her way upwind on the final day
At the finish Checkmate XV took the race by 52 seconds, with Harmony second from Per Elisa and General Tapioca fourth. Sadly a technical issue with the committee boat’s anchor made a second race impossible and so the championship closed with eight races completed.
Superhero in light airs on the first day (finished sixth overall)
In his thank you speech at the prize giving David Cullen made a few special presentations of his own before reflecting that “Being a Half Ton owner is a bit like being a heroin addict, you don’t really enjoy it but its very hard to stop! And a lot of that comes down to the camaraderie in this room and in this class". It was a sentiment that clearly hit the right note with the assembled crowd and he then went on to particularly thank Class Chairman Philippe Pilate and Class Secretary Bert Janssen for all their work in driving and supporting the class.
Checkmate XV in action on the final day of racing
In the Vintage IOR Division Albert Pierrard & An Callens’ A+ (1985 Nissen) had a superb last race loving every minute of the downwind sleigh rides, with Waverider second by 47 seconds and Nicolas Lejeune’s Skippy’s Ton (1984 Briand) third. At the prizegiving it was confirmed that the first ever winner of the new Vintage IOR Trophy was the local Belgian boat Waverider sailed by owner Jaques Lemaire, Michael Gendebien, Thibout de Kenchous, Michel Lefebure, Stephove Putseys, Winnie Berteloot and Pascal Aboosha. Ivan Van Burm’s Fantasy (1980 Humphreys) took second place by a mere half point from A+ in third.
Another packed startline during the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup, with second placed Harmony in the foreground
Alongside the main trophies two further special prizes were also announced. The first was the Half Ton Classics Cup Corinthian Trophy, which goes to the top performing all amateur crew and was won by Rampage (1985 Briand) sailed by owner John Hicks, Rod Wootton, Will Parkinson, Mike Chamberlain, Becky Leach, Jane Hicks and Joe Cable from Cornwall, UK.

Blue Beret (left) and Skippy's Ton (right) sailing upwind during the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup
The final prize presented is always the Spirit of Half Ton Trophy and it goes to the team who best embody that certain hard to define something that sums up the true heart of the Half Ton Class. For rescuing and totally rebuilding their boat against all the odds after she was almost completely destroyed when a crane fell on her some three years ago, this year the Spirit of Half Ton Trophy was presented to Nicolas Lejeune and Waverider. Waverider is a truly special Half Tonner; designed by Laurie Davidson in 1977 she won two consecutive Half Ton Cups in 1978 off Poole and in 1979 off Scheveningen. Her reconstruction has been a work of love and dedication by Nicolas and his friends and family, with the support of boat builders and fellow Half Ton sailors Tom Florizoone (Red Cloud) and Ian Van Burm (Fantasy). Waverider is a wooden boat so first she had to be put into a jig and left to settle back into shape before the rebuild could start. That work could only begin a few months ago and took the team until the night before the regatta to complete. The very first time the sailed the boat after her relaunch was the first race of this championship, so this was a hugely popular win and the entire team came to the stage to raucous cheers and applause.
Waverider in lighter airs on the second day (fourth overall and winner of the Vintage division)
There were thank yous to the many volunteers and sponsors who have made the event possible and every team taking part was called forward to receive gifts and prizes before Master of Ceremonies Bert Janssen confirmed that the next Half Ton Classics Cup will be held in 2020 and will be hosted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in Cowes (dates to be confirmed). Finally Commodore Baudouin Meyhui of the Koninklijke Yacht Club Nieuwpoort thanked the competitors, wished them safe journeys home and hoped that they would all be back in Nieuwpoort again very soon.
Per Elisa (third overall) on the downwind leg on the second day of racing

11 August 2018

Half Ton Classics Cup 2018 Preview

The Half Ton Class makes a welcome return to Nieuwpoort in Belgium for the 2018 Half Ton Classics Cup, which will take place from 20 to 24 August 2018 and will be hosted by the Koninklijke Yachtclub Nieuwpoort.

The event will see some 20 vintage yachts built to the IOR Half Ton Rule compete over five days of racing for the prestigious Half Ton Classics Cup and a number of additional special trophies. New for this edition is the introduction of a Vintage IOR Class open to all non-modified Half Tonners (except mast and keel). Among them eleven boats from the local fleet (A+, Fantasy, Half Duke, Petit Izoï, Envol, Skippy's Ton, Farther Bruin, Spip, Ballerine, Red Cloud and Waverider) are already confirmed as competing in this division which is expected to provide some exciting and challenging competition.

As always, the event will attract teams from across Europe to compete and this year an Italian crew will be joining the fray for the first time. Sailing the 1989 Berret designed Blue Berret Pi/Team Italia, Jérôme Spilleboudt and Massimo Morasca and their crew come to the event as reigning Italian Half Ton National Champions and are expected to give the fleet a good run for their money.

Many of those competing are old friends of the class. From Ireland Dave Cullen will be bringing the 1985 Humphreys designed Checkmate XV and Jonny Swan will be racing Harmony, an earlier Humphreys' design from 1980. From the English west country comes Robbie Tregear's 1992 Ceccarelli designed Per Elisa, whilst Toni Stoschek & Janne Tukolas make the trip all the way from Finland with their 1988 Andrieu designed Superhero.
Racing during the 2016 Half Ton Classics Cup
The Belgian home fleet are putting up a good showing with Philippe Pilate's General Tapioca (1978 Berret) leading a strong team that includes Waverider skippered by Jacques Lemaire (1977 Davidson), Ian Van Burm's Fantasy (1980 Humphreys), Maël Danis' Envol (1980 Joubert) and Thibaut Martin's Spip (1984 Humphreys).
It's good to hear that Waverider will be back in the fray this year, here she is sailing in 2012
It is always a delight to see one of Ron Holland's legendary Golden Shamrocks taking part in the Half Ton Classics Cup and this year Half Duke will represent the class with a very special all girl crew aboard, who will be racing to represent the NGO "Mothers & Midwives Support" which is gathering funds to finance an ambulance boat for the Monvu Hospital and Idjwi Island in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Wednesday evening of the regatta the team will present their project in the yacht club, where they will be joined by Olympic Laser Radial Bronze Medalist Evi Van Acker, who is a "godmother" to "Mothers & Midwives Support".
Racing during the 2016 Half Ton Classics Cup
Registration for the event will open on Sunday 19 August and there will be practice racing that afternoon. Championship racing runs from Monday 20 to Friday 24 August inclusive and will feature a mixture of windward/leeward, short coastal and long coastal courses, with a maximum of three races being sailed each day.
A tight start for the fleet during the 2016 Half Ton Classics Cup
Further details including the Notice of Race, online Entry and Sailing Instructions can all be found at www.halftonclasssicscup.com, where daily news updates will also be posted. You can also follow the regatta on the Half Ton Class Facebook page.

Media wishing to attend the event should contact Press Officer Fiona Brown on fiona.brown@fionabrown.com or +44 (0)7711 718470.

30 May 2018

Bullfrog (Peterson 55)

Bullfrog (photo Dick Foat/DPT FB Page)
Bullfrog was Doug Peterson-designed 55 footer (Design #116) that had a very successful racing career through the early 1980s. Bullfrog was built for Californian yachtsman David Fenix by Newport Offshore in aluminium using a method to glue and rivet the skins to the frames instead of welding. This allowed for much thinner aluminium skin to be used. She was finished in a deep green topsides with white bottom which, allied with a sleek bow and stern profile and flush deck, resulted in a striking looking yacht.   

Bullfrog was perhaps the archetype of the heavy and powerful, masthead-rigged IOR yacht of the 1980s, but one that displayed the more balanced and easily driven lines of Peterson's later design approach than his earlier pintail types. Her IOR rating certificate shows a Centre of Gravity Factor well above the minimum (0.984) for good windward performance, and a relatively low rating of 44.4ft (under Mk IIIA). When well sailed as Bullfrog was, this type remained competitive in a transition period towards lighter fractional-rigged yachts, and she was the dominant IOR 'A' boat on the US West Coast over three years - she won the Big Boat Series twice as well as Long Beach Race Week.
Bullfrog emerges from the shed at Newport Offshore and ready for launching, below (photos Doug Peterson Tribute page)

Bullfrog also formed part of the US "Blue" team in the 1982 Clipper Cup, the bi-annual international regatta held in Hawaii, where she sailed alongside Clay Bernard's Davidson 50 Great Fun, and Jim Kilroy's Holland Maxi Kialoa IV.  Bullfrog was helmed by Tom Blackaller in this series, and started the regatta strongly, with a second in the first and second races, both Olympic triangles, and like the rest of the regatta, was held in very windy conditions.
Bullfrog sailing upwind in San Francisco (photo Diane Betson, Doug Peterson Tribute page)

Bullfrog powers upwind (photo Yachting magazine)
But Bullfrog experienced continual problems through the series with her mast, a small-section triple-spreader Stearn spar. It featured an internal spinnaker boom track which also served as a stiffening member, but this came adrift regularly and its fastenings, however bolstered, were never quite strong enough for the job. She was sailed conservatively in the 143-mile Molokai Race, in very fresh conditions that saw many breakages throughout the fleet, but still managed a creditable fourth place in Class B (of 15 boats - her overall position in that race is not known). 
Bullfrog sails downwind with spinnaker and blooper flying (photo Seahorse)
Bullfrog put in another strong performance in the fourth race, another Olympic triangle, finishing second, and went into the heavily weighted last race, the Round the State race, in first place overall, with team-mate Great Fun close behind in second. In the Round the State, Bullfrog again performed strongly in the early stages. But at the southern point of the island of Hawaii (not surprisingly known as South Point), while sailing alongside Jumpin' Jack Flash and several Class A boats in 15 knots of breeze, a toggle supporting the forestay at the masthead broke.  The repair took several hours and with it went any chance of winning the series, and dragged Bullfrog down to 11th place overall (and fourth in Class B). While Great Fun also dropped to fifth overall, Kialoa IV was well-placed in fourth after a dominant performance in the final race, and the US Blue team took out overall team honours for the series.
Bullfrog in strong reaching conditions in the 1984 Clipper Cup, just to leeward of the Soverel 55 The Shadow
The 1982 Clipper Cup also featured Monty Livingston's Peterson 50 Checkmate, which finished in ninth place overall.  Bullfrog was later taken over by Livingston and his Checkmate team, and was renamed accordingly.  This has caused some confusion over the years with the earlier Checkmate, with both boats retaining the same name. The new Checkmate (or 'Checkfrog') sailed in the 1984 Clipper Cup for the US White team, alongside Tomahawk, a Frers 50 (ex-Margaret Rintoul III), and Camouflage, a Frers 44. 
Checkmate (ex-Bullfrog) and team-mate Tomahawk (below) slide downwind during the 1984 Clipper Cup
In this series, Checkmate was again dominant through the first four races of the series, with placings of 1/1/3/1, with Checkmate and Tomahawk more than holding their own against the fast Farr 40's Exador and Pacific Sundance (sailing for the New Zealand 'A' team, alongside the Frers 43 Shockwave).  While Camouflage was less impressive, the US White team went into the final triple-point Round the State race just behind New Zealand A. 

Checkmate again came unstuck in the Round the State race, being punished for a conservative rhumb line course down to South Point, and her eventual long beat to this turning point in the course knocked her out of the running for overall honours, finishing 15th, and dropping to ninth overall, while Tomahawk also finished relatively poorly in 12th and dropping to fourth overall. This demonstrated the effect of the heavy points weighting of the Round the State, as Checkmate and Tomahawk were clearly the form boats to that stage, having captured all of the Class B firsts and seconds in the first four races. However, while Camouflage was the weak link in the team, she had a stronger showing in the Round the State (fifth), and with Exador losing her mast in a freak wave off South Point, the US White team were able to carry off an overall team win. 

Aside from her forays and success in the Big Boat Series, the later racing exploits of Checkmate are unknown.  However, a video exists from 2008 where she remained in her original livery and was part of a sailing school (image above).  Later, she was advertised for sale in 2014 while based in San Diego (photo and link below).
Checkmate in a 2014 advertisement by Yachtfinders (see here for more photos)

25 May 2018

Preview of the 2018 Quarter Ton Cup

Press Release: 24 May 2018 – Cowes, UK 

The fourteenth edition of the revival Quarter Ton Cup looks set to produce one of the closest battles seen to date in a class which is famed for its close competition. With three days of inshore racing on the Solent from 20 to 22 June, some 25 boats are expected to challenge for this year’s honours.
The Quarter Ton fleet during the Vice Admiral's Cup (all photos from the 1/4 ton zeilers Facebook page/Tom Hicks and Rick Tomlinson)
The fleet will be based at Cowes Yacht Haven with the race office located in the Haven’s Solent Room and the après sailing social events, which include a BBQ and the traditional Quarter Ton Cup Prize Giving Dinner, being held in the Haven Event Centre. Racing will be located on the Solent using predominantly windward/leeward courses.
Close racing amongst the Quarter Ton fleet in the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup 
The fleet got a taste of the competition to come at the recent Vice Admiral’s Cup Regatta where the Quarter Ton racing was so close that there was a three-way tie for first place between Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila, Louise Morton’s Bullet and Catrina Southworth’s Whiskers, helmed by Ian Southworth (see results below). On that occasion Aguila claimed overall victory on count back thanks to her three first places, but the gauntlet has been thrown down and we can expect Whiskers and Bullet to be seeking revenge at the Quarter Ton Cup.
Aguila, winner of the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup
This will be the first Quarter Ton Cup in 12 years not sponsored by Coutts, whose most generous support helped the class develop from a small group of friends sailing tired old boats to an enthusiastic fleet of beautifully restored historic yachts which produce some of the most competitive racing you could hope to find.
Bullet, second in the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup
“A twelve-year partnership with any sponsor is an extraordinary achievement and we can’t thank Coutts enough for all they have done. But all good things must come to an end and we are now seeking new commercial partners. We can offer an excellent tailored benefits package and would be delighted to speak with any companies interesting in working with us” noted Class Secretary Louise Morton.
Whiskers, third overall int he 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup, seen here leading Belinda on a light downwind leg
For further information about this event including the Notice of Race and Entry Form please visit www.quartertoncup.org. Members of the Press wishing to attend the event should contact Quarter Ton Cup Press Officer Fiona Brown on fiona.brown@fionabrown.com.
Illegal Immigrant - 7th overall in the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup

5 May 2018

Smir-Noff-Agen - The Rebuild (Part 2)

Here are some recent photos from the re-build of the Farr One Ton centreboarder, Smir-Noff-Agen. As readers may recall from a previous article, Smir-Noff-Agen was found in a parlous state in Australia in mid-2016, and has been shipped to Dubai where she is in the process of being upgraded to have a second life as a modern IRC race yacht.  Her wooden hull has been saved, and she is due for relaunch in September this year. She will be re-named Oro Nero, and will feature a black and gold colour scheme.