11 July 2014

2014 Half Ton Classics Cup

Swuzzlebubble, the Farr-designed Half Tonner that competed in her first Half Ton Cup in 1977, won the 2014 edition of the Half Ton Classics Cup, held in Saint Quay Portrieux, France. After two second placings on the first day, Peter Morton and his crew won the next race and then never looked back, going on to win the 40 mile coastal race on the second day, and all three races on the third day to wrap up the regatta with a day to spare. Swuzzlebubble seemed to have impressive speed in all of the conditions experienced during the regatta, and was able to overcome the handicap of having the highest IRC rating in the fleet (0.974). 

The transformation of Swuzzlebubble from her derelict condition in Greece just over a year ago to her race-winning form of today is remarkable, and underlines the pedigree of her original design, prepared by Farr as one of a trio of these breakthrough yachts, and pre-dated many of her competition that arrived for the 2014 series. The performance of Swuzzlebubble perhaps lies in the fact that this design was considered quite long for a Half Tonner, and reflected Farr's thinking at the time about how to provide fair lines around the after girth stations in combination with a lighter displacement hull. From 1979, and following the introduction of a displacement to length factor in the IOR rule, boats had to be heavier to remain competitive, and later boats tended to be deeper amidships and more pronounced distortion in their aft sections. Although she was originally designed as a centreboarder, she now sports a Mark Mills IRC-optimised fixed keel. And Swuzzlebubble is obviously very well sailed, and Morton's win in the extremely close racing in the Quarter Ton Cup a few weeks ago must have been excellent preparation for the Half Ton Cup.
Swuzzlebubble shows her impressive upwind form on the first day of the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup
The Half Ton Classics Class press release from the final day sums up the overall placings (with photography credits to Fiona Brown (and many more here), and video from the Half Ton Classics Cup blog:

Saint Quay Portrieux - 11 July 2014 - The 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup came to a sparkling conclusion today with one final thrilling race off the beautiful North Brittany coast and a delightful prize giving on the waterfront of Saint-Quay-Portreiux. With the breeze a little lighter at around 10-14 knots we saw some different faces at the front of the pack today and the finish was incredibly close, both on the water and on corrected time. Robert Tregear's Per Elisa (1989 Ceccarelli), the last one off Half Tonner ever built, came into her own and gave Swuzzlebubble a run for her money, although they couldn't quite save their time and Swuzzlebubble won by 23 seconds. Third place went to Frederic Waniart's diminutive Maeva (1974 Mauric) who beat General Tapioca for third by a mere 0.16 seconds! Also much happier in today's lighter airs was Checkmate XV who took fifth, beating The Big Picture by 0.53 seconds!

Video footage of racing on Day 1

Startline action during the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup
Our winner, Peter Morton's Swuzzlebubble had already been confirmed yesterday, but still came out to race purely for the joy of it. And our remaining podium positions were confirmed as Bernard Fournier Le Ray's Brittany Drizzle (1978 Berret) evaded one final challenge from her sistership General Tapioca, owned by Philippe Pilate, to claim second place with General Tapioca taking the third step on the podium.

General Tapioca - third overall
At the prize giving each of the skippers was invited to the podium to receive an invitation to the 2015 Half Ton Classics Cup, which will be held in in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, from 17-23 August, and to say a few words about the regatta. They were universal in their praise of the Sport Nautique Saint-Quay-Portrieux for their organisation of the regatta, of the Half Ton Classics Class for their work behind the scenes, and of their crews and fellow competitors for the incredible competition, fun and camaraderie they have experienced this week. 

Video footage from the coastal race on Day 2

General Tapioca chases Concorde downwind

Winner Peter Morton not only paid tribute to the organisers and his crew, but to his fellow owners and the incredible work they do in keeping these historic boats in such outstanding condition. He especially highlighted his closest challenger Bernard Fournier Le Ray, who he has known since Bernard built Indulgence, the boat in which Peter won the Three Quarter Ton Cup in 1986. Peter highlighted that Bernard built Brittany Drizzle himself in his garden in 1978 and has raced and maintained her personally ever since, giving Peter much good competition over the years. That she is in outstanding condition some 36 years later and still raced with great success at the highest level is a true testament to Bernard's skill as a builder and sailor and to the longevity of the Half Tonners. Peter concluded by saying he looked forward to racing with the fleet again at next year's event in Nieuwpoort.

Interview with Peter Morton

The Daniel Andrieu design Concorde - ninth overall and winner of The Half Ton Spirit Trophy
And finally we came to the most important presentation of all, The Half Ton Spirit Trophy, which is awarded to the team, which, in the opinion of the Class and the Regatta Committee, truly embodies the extraordinary spirit of the class and the event. For their commitment and incredible personal hard work in keeping their beautiful boat in 100% as original condition, for sailing with great success with an entirely Corinthian crew and for racing her, runners, checkstays, titanium fittings and all, to an incredible ninth place overall, the 2014 Half Ton Spirit Trophy was awarded to deafening applause to Concorde (1989 Andrieu) owned by Francis Marshall and crewed by Robert Libby, Matt and Ivan Jacock, Peter Greenwood, Dick Jackman and Jack Spree - a bunch of Enterprise sailors and fishermen from Loo in Cornwall. A very moved Francis and his entire team came to the podium to accept the trophy and the recognition of their fellow sailors. 

Video from Day 3

Per Elisa - the last Half Tonner ever built, finished 14th overall
Concorde on a reaching leg ahead of fellow French competitor Port de Perros Guirec (12th overall)
The next Half Ton Classics Cup will be held in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on 17-23 August 2015.


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