29 May 2015

Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2015 - Press Release

The Royal Ocean Racing Club incorporating the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club will host the 2015 edition of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 July. The revival Quarter Ton Class continues to go from strength to strength with a number of new boats and new owners joining the fleet for this eleventh edition of the regatta.

Among the new faces attending their first Coutts Quarter Ton Cup will be Julian Metherell, new owner of the hugely successful Espada (1980 Bruce Farr design), winner of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup in 2007, 2011 and 2013. Also new to the fleet is Ben Daly, who now owns last year's Corinthian winner Illes Pitiuses (1983 Fauroux design), which he has renamed Cobh Pirate in honour of his Irish heritage.

Last year's overall winner Bullit (1978 Fauroux) also has a new skipper in charge as Peter Morton has handed her over to his wife Louise, Secretary of the Class, to replace her beloved Espada. Peter himself has purchased Tiger, formerly ASAP (1989 Fauroux), which won the Corinthian Quarter Ton Cup in 2011 and 2012, meaning he will now have challenged for the revival Quarter Ton Cup in no less than five different boats.

As well as welcoming new friends the event also looks forward to the return of many familiar faces. Rickard Melander's Alice II (1990 Phil Morrison) has undergone a major winter refit and clearly has every intention of breaking her run as fleet bridesmaid. If her winning performance at the recent Vice Admiral's Cup is anything to go by, Sam Laidlaw's Aguila (1990 Judel Vrolick) is another boat to watch this year. Richard Fleck's Per Elisa (1992 Ceccarelli) has also had a lot of work done on her this winter and they are hoping to see a commensurate improvement in their performance.

Bullit - 2014 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup winner
The Vice Admiral's Cup is great indicator of form and with second place going to Alice II, third to Tony Hayward's Blackfun (1976 Laurie Davidson), fourth to Louise Morton on her first serious outing in Bullit and fifth to Willie McNeill's Illegal Immigrant (1991 Ceccarelli) we already some indications of who might be featuring on the podium this year.
Blackfun competing in the 2014 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup
The Coutts Quarter Ton Cup incorporates boats built to all three iterations of the Quarter Ton Rule - the 15ft Rating RORC Rule (1967-1970), the 18ft Rating IOR (1971 to 1978) and the 18.55ft Rating IOR (1979 to 1996). The boats race under IRC to ensure fair racing and in addition to the overall trophy there are also trophies for the first Production/Series boat and the first Corinthian team. New for 2015 is the introduction of a Lower Rating Trophy to ensure competitive competition for the early built (lower rating) boats, which is open to all Quarter Tonners with a rating of 0.899 or below. This exciting new trophy is presented by Roger Swinney, who has been a staunch supporter of the Cup since it's revival owning and racing the Bolero, Ayanami and most recently Innuendo.

Those who take part in this year's event will be presented with a special memento in the shape of a pair of boat stickers featuring the legendary Seamus. Seamus and his Still Crazy After All These Years tag line have been the emblems of the revived Quarter Ton Class for a decade and Geoff Gritton, owner of Panic (1984 Peter Gimpel) in partnership with marine graphics company Clear To See, will present each competitor with the stickers as a reminder of the enduring fun, friendships and great memories that the class creates.

The Notice of Race and Entry Form are now available from the club website at www.rcyc.co.uk. The racing will once again be run in the Central Solent on a mixture of windward/leeward and round the cans courses with up to four races scheduled each day. Registration for the regatta will open at 15.00 on Tuesday 7 July and there will be a Skipper's Briefing at the clubhouse at 18.30 that evening.

The social programme is always a major feature of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup and this year is no exception. The event opens with the Coutts Welcome Reception at 18.00 on Tuesday evening, after which a Crew Supper will be available. Wednesday will feature a Steak BBQ and on Thursday crew supper is available in the clubhouse. The traditional Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Gala Dinner will be held in association with the Final Prize Giving on Friday 10 July to see out the event in true style.

Further information about the event can be found at www.rcyc.co.uk or by contacting Sailing Secretary Jo Chugg on jc@rorc.org Tel 01983 293581.

Revived Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Winners:

2005 - Purple Haze (1977 David Thomas design) - Tony Dodd
2006 - Enigma - (1977 Ed Dubois design) - Ed Dubois
2007 - Espada - (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Peter Morton
2008 - Tom Bombadil (1982 Doug Peterson design) - Chris Frost & Kevin George
2009 - Anchor Challenge (1978 Bruce Farr design) - Peter Morton
2010 - Cote (1990 Gonzalez design) - Darren Marston & Olly Ophaus
2011 - Overall - Espada (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Louise Morton
Corinthian - Tiger (1989 Fauroux design) - George Kenefick
2012 - Overall - Bullit - (1978 Fauroux design) - Peter Morton
Corinthian - Tiger (1989 Fauroux design) - George Kenefick
2013 - Overall - Espada - (1980 Bruce Farr design) - Louise Morton
Corinthian - Pinguin Playboy (1979 Fauroux design) - Pierre Paris
2014 - Overall - Bullit (1978 Fauroux design) - Peter Morton
Corinthain - Illes Pitiuses (1983 Fauroux) - Dominic and Jason Losty

Espada - Coutts Quarter Ton winner in 2007, 2011 and 2013
About The Coutts Quarter Ton Cup

The revival Quarter Ton Cup was the brainchild of well-known sailors Peter Morton and Tony Dodd. In 2004 Peter was toying with the idea of buying back his old Bruce Farr designed Quarter Tonner Super Q and Tony, the owner of Purple Haze, were keen to increase the number of boats he could race against.

A few phone calls to friends later and the idea of a revival Quarter Ton Cup was rolling. The inaugural event took place in 2005 with 14 boats attending and Purple Haze claiming victory. Each year the number and quality of the entrants has increased with the tenth anniversary event in 2014 attracting a record entry of 33 boats. 

The standard of racing in the fleet is truly extraordinary with many of the best-known sailors in the world joining the racing for the sheer fun of it. Certainly the Quarter Tonners are widely acknowledged as offering some of the most competitive racing in the Solent.

Although the revival started in the Solent, the enthusiasm for Quarter Tonners is universal and there are now active Quarter Ton fleets across Europe and Australasia with more boats being rediscovered and given a new lease of life each year.

The boats are quirky, fun, incredibly challenging to sail well, but very versatile in that they are competitive in general IRC fleets. It's also a class that appeals to youngsters and those on a limited budget who can purchase a boat and refurbish her themselves at very reasonable cost. The fleet is always very supportive of new owners offering endless advice and frequently donating parts, sails and even complete rigs to deserving newcomers.

Quarter Tonners can be challenging to sail!
In 2006 the event partnered for the first time with title sponsor Coutts to become the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup, a partnership that has endured ever since. Coutts most generous support has been vital in making the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup the vibrant and successful regatta it is today.

For the first ten years the event was hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Cowes. The club's delightful waterside premises and outstanding reputation for race management were the perfect combination to ensure events of the highest caliber. From 2015 the event will be run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, which now incorporates the RCYC and has taken over its Cowes clubhouse.

Further information about the Quarter Ton Class can be found at www.quartertonclass.org or by contacting Class Secretary Louise Morton on Email louisemorton@me.com


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.

Update November 2015 - Propaganda has now been bought by a US sailor based in South Korea, as part of the "Elephant Lightning" racing team. and she is now located in the island of Jeju.