Final Report – Checkmate XV Makes It A Victory Double

IMG_1497.jpgWith 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

IMG_2225The 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. 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.

P1040373.jpgIn his thank you speach 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 camadareri 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.

P1040318.jpgIn 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 Prize Giving 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.

P1040306.jpgAlongside 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.

P1040376.jpgThe 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 the Florizoone family 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 the Florizoones and their friends and family, with the support of Tom Florizoone (Red Cloud), Ian Van Burm (Fantasy) and Jacques Lemair (better known as the carbon-master). This week Jacques has been helming Waverider with his Sorcier Noir (Black Witch) team. 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 boat sailed after her relaunch was the first race of this championship, so this was a hugely popular win and the entire team involved came to the stage to raucous cheers and applause.

IMG_2164.jpgThere 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.

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Day 5 – Sailing Photos

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Prize Giving At 16.00

Burt has advised us that the Half Ton Classics Cup 2018 Prize Giving is scheduled for 16.00.

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Thank You Nieuwpoort!

We have been made to feel so at home and welcome here in Nieuwpoort this week and we would just like to say a huge thank you to the members and volunteers of the KYCN, the Belgian Half Ton fleet and the organisers of the Half Ton Class Europe for creating such a wonderful regatta. With friendly faces and a can do attitude this team of friends and family have pulled out all the stops to make a truly memorable event, produce terrific racing and host some knock out parties.

Neiuwpoort is an interesting town and full of quirky and interesting bit of architecture and sculpture. Built on sand dunes, there is a historic heart to the town upriver and a very modern beachside area with great shopping and restaurants at the coast, as well as more boats and marinas than you can shake the proverbial stick at. Do visit if you get the chance.

One of the things we’ve loved looking for each day are the little statues hidden on the big pilings which line the main channel into the harbour.  Each day I look forward to spotting the garden gnome, the pussy cat and these two who are always there, watching out to week for the safely returning boats.

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They tell us that if you hunt at low tide you will find a mermaid too but we have yet to find her!

Thank you Nieuwpoort – we will be back!

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Day 4 Interview

While we wait for official confirmation of the results here is a lovely little interview we did with the Farther Bruin boys last night following their great Long Inshore race.

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Race 8 – Finish

What a great final race to finish on!  It was nip and tuck all the way with Per Elisa leading at the first mark from General Tapioca with Checkmate third, Superhero fourth, Red Cloud fifth, Headhunter sixth and Harmony seventh.

The sun was out, the wind was in the mid teens gusting to upper teens at times and there was a big confused sea running which made for spectacular seat of the pants sailing.

Checkmate sailed a great run and second beat to head the fleet at the second weather mark by half a dozen boat lengths and then defended her position all the way to the finish. Per Elisa hung on for second finishing just ahead of Harmony with General Tapioca fourth home.

As they crossed the line they could see the AP over H flags flying on the committee boat indicating that there would be no further racing and so the fleet headed home.

We are awaiting official confirmation of the results, but it looks like Irish eyes will be smiling.

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SPIP Not Sailing Today

We’ve just had a quick chat with the team from SPIP who tell us that sadly they have had to pull out of today’s races.  While checking the boat this morning they spotted a problem with the deck collar of their mast, which has become loose. Bearing in mind the strong winds and big seas expected to day they have wisely decided not to go out.

Thank you SPIP for being such wonderful fun competitors – we will miss you out there today!IMG_1132

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Welcome To The Final Day!

IMG_1915Good morning everyone and welcome to the final day of the Half Ton Classics Cup 2018 in Nieuwpoort where we are all set for a spectacular showdown.  We have sun, we have plenty of wind, we have big seas, and we have a tightly packed leaderboard with everything to play for!

We have the first start planned for 10.30, and a final start cut off time of 13.00 so every chance of sailing two final races to decide the series.  With the breeze forecast to be up towards 20 knots from the south west and very big seas it’s going to be an exciting day (probably too exciting – and wet – to achieve on the water updates but we will try).

Here’s a quick recap of where we are going into the day:

1.  Checkmate XV – 2, 6, 6, (11), 2 , 1, 1.5 = 18.5
2.  Per Elisa – 1, 1, 1, 4, 4, (20), 12 = 23
3.  Harmony – 6, 8, (8), 1, 3, 2, 3 = 23
4.  Waverider – 4, 3, 2, (10), 5, 3, 7.5 = 24.5
5.  Red Cloud – 3, 4, 4, 3, (6), 4, 9 = 27
6.  Superhero – 5, 5, 5, 2, 1, (6), 10.5 = 28.5
Good luck to all the competitors and stay tuned!
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Day 4 – Report

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Day four’s Long Inshore Race at the Half Ton Classics Cup 2018 in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, proved to be both an incredibly closely fought battle between the top boats and a game changer in the overall standings. With the race carrying a weighting of 1.5 points and being non-discardable, and with only two further races still to sail the pressure was on everyone to achieve good results.

The morning dawned overcast once again, but as the boats arrived in the race area the wind was already at 8-10 knots from the south west and building. Race Officer Paul Charlier set a course which would take the boats back and forth along the Belgian Coast going as far west as the Nieuwpoortbank Buoy and as far east as the Binnenstroombank Buoy off Oostend, giving a course of 32 miles, which took the leading boats over five and a half hours to complete.

DT2C4865Having started cleanly at the first attempt and with only a short distance from the line to the laid weather mark the fleet converged in a tightly bunched pack. Philippe Pilate’s General Tapioca had a small lead as they approached, but underestimated the tide and understood so had to tack onto port to get round. Behind them David Cullen’s Checkmate XV had judged the starboard layline perfectly and Tapioca had to tack back before she had really got pace up to avoid them. Tapioca just made it round the mark by bearing away hard to keep their transom clear, but then made the mistake of staying low when in fact the tide made the leg a starboard one tack beat. Checkmate held high, rapidly rolling Tapioca with Toni Stoschek & Janne Tukolas’ Superhero, Albert Pierrard & An Callens’ A+ and Jonny Swan’s Harmony right on their tail, followed by a big gaggle of boats including Patrick Dubus’ Ballarine (who hit the laid mark), Tom Florizoone’s Red Cloud and John Hicks’ Rampage.

DT2C4941Those who spotted Tapioca’s mistake and held high on the short second leg made it across to Westroombank in one starboard tack, but those who went low were forced to tack in on port making for plenty of excitement in the final approach. Checkmate had a couple of boat lengths lead and was followed round by Superhero with Tapioca now down to third, Harmony fourth, Robbie Tregear’s Per Elisa fifth and A+ sixth.

The next leg was a tight reach to Middlekirkbank with the building ebb tide making it tighter still, and judging the compromise between hight and pace was the key to success. While Checkmate hit the middle ground to defend her position Harmony, Tapioca and Per Elisa stayed low as others went high. As they came round Middlekirk Checkmate had successfully defended her narrow lead, but the decision to go low had paid off and Harmony was right behind her with Tapioca third and Superhero fourth. Red Cloud had sailed an excellent leg to pull up into fifth with Per Elisa sixth and A+ seventh.

DT2C4800Next up was a port one tack beat to D1 where they tacked round onto a predominantly starboard tack beat over to Neiuwpoortbank. Choosing where to put in the short tacks on the leg to Nieuwpoortbank was critical with a number of boats loosing out and others gaining significantly. As they turned downwind A+ had picked the tacks perfectly to lead, but with Tapioca, Checkmate XV and Harmony yapping at their heels.

On the leg to D1 Rampage was making good time until their guard wire snapped and all the hiking crew found themselves taking a surprise dip. Fortunately everyone managed to hold onto something so no one lost contact with the boat and they were rapidly able to self recover and continue racing, although General Tapioca and several others were in immedate radio contact and standing by to offer assistance if needed.

DT2C4771From Nieuwpoortbank the fleet bore away onto a fast reach for WK3 before bearing away again onto a long run back past Nieuwpoort to Binnenstroombank off Ostend. With the wind now gusting up to 20+ knots it was a spectacular surfing leg with a few thrills and spills along the way. One unexpected thrill and near spill happened to Jan-Jakob Muyls’ Farther Bruin (Farr 1977) as they came to the leeward mark. A tourist boat had come out from Ostend and decided to watch the racing, but got a little too close to the mark blocking their way and avoiding action had to be taken. Quite what the tourists all thought of the mad Belgian’s apparently piroueting in front of them we do not know, but for sure they were not happy with the ferry captain!

The final beat west back to finish at the Westroombank against the tide gave the option of sailing up the middle of the beat over the bank or going left and hitting the shallows inshore. A+ chose the shore and more than 20 gruelling tacks later they had passed five boats.

DT2C4727At the line General Tapioca led the fleet home followed by Checkmate XV and Harmony, but on corrected time Checkmate XV had taken a comfortable victory by a minute and fifty two seconds. It wasn’t until the boats were ashore that second place could be confirmed with Harmony beating General Tapioca by just two seconds. The stonger winds suited the Vintage IOR boats which still sail in close to original IOR configuration and despite their encouter with the tourist boat Farther Bruin sailed a superb final leg to take fourth place overall and first Vintage from Jacques Lemaire’s Waverider in fifth. Red Cloud was sixth, Superhero came home seventh and overnight leader Per Elisa was eighth, her worst result of the regatta.

With the Long Inshore having a points weighting of 1.5 its results have shaken up the overall leader board.  David Cullen’s Checkmate XV now moves into the lead with 18.5 points. Tied on 23 points are yesterday’s overnight leader Robbie Tregear’s Per Elisa and Jonny Swan’s Harmony with Per Elisa taking second place on count back. Jacques Lemaire’s Waverider is just 1.5 points behind them in fourth with Tom Florizoone’s Red Cloud in fifth on 27 points and Toni Stoschek & Janne Tukolas’ Superhero now dropping from second to sixth on 28.5 points, still well within striking distance of the podium.

DT2C4673In the Vintage Divison for boats still sailing in largely IOR format (limited modifications to their rigs and foils are permitted) Waverider continues to lead the fleet and now has an almost unassailable lead of 9.5 points. Ian Van Burm’s Fantasy is in second place, 3.5 points ahead of A+ and four ahead of Nicolas Lejeune’s Skippy’s Ton. The Vintage fleet is newly introduced for 2018 and is proving a popular new addition with some terrific racing amongst the fleet and a super camaraderie amongst these owners who enjoy the challenge of maintaining their boats as close to original as possible.

After racing the crews came together for the traditional Half Ton Classics Cup Gala Dinner at the  Koninklijke Yacht Club Nieuwpoort. But before that they all took part in another Half Ton favourite – The PopPop Boat World Championships. PopPop boats are traditional little tin boats which are steam driven using a tealight to heat a tank of water to drive a propeller. They get their name from the distinctive noise that the tiny single cylinder engine makes and they race along a special twin track course. Despite nearly eight hours afloat today the teams threw themselves into the competition and the usual attempts at cheating ensued, but ultimately fair play was achieved and the Rampage crew narrowly beat the Checkmate XV crewed to be declared 2018 PopPop Boat World Champions.

P1040205The championship concludes tomorrow, Friday 24 August. Although technically three races remain to be sailed, the fact that racing can’t start before 10.30 and that there is a final race start cut off time of 13.00 means that in reality only two races are really possible to decide this closely fought series and decide who will take home the Half Ton Classics Cup this year.

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Images From Guest Photographer batur.be

Thanks to batur.be for these great images from the regatta. Please visit Jerard’s website and Facebook pages for more images.

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