Consistent sailing by Nigel Biggs on his newly-refurbished Checkmate XVIII put the British team at the top of the leaderboard of the Euro Car Parks Half Ton Classics Cup at Kinsale after a rain-soaked opening day. However, just two points separate first to fourth places and the regatta is set to be a cliff-hanger.
Although Phil Plumtree’s two-times past champion Swuzzlebubble had impressive leads on the water, IRC handicapping greatly levelled the playing-field and the iconic Kiwi yacht by designer Bruce Farr could only muster a win in the opening race before scoring second and eighth places for the rest of the day and lies third overall.
In contrast, Biggs had two fourth places and a second while Paul Pullen’s Miss Whiplash had a 3-3-4 day and only missed being overnight leader on the tie-break with Checkmate XVIII.
Of the host nation, a win in the third race for Howth Yacht Club’s Michael and Ritchie Evans on The Big Picture neatly transformed their day after earlier sixth and fifth places. Fourth overall puts them two points ahead of their clubmate David Cullen on Checkmate XV who also had a race win to counter and eighth and a fifth during the day.
“Before the first race, I thought it would be easy to pick the eventual winner but after today I’m not so sure,” Cullen said. “The standard is definitely much higher and probably the most competitive half-ton fleet we have seen in years.”
Of the conditions, the only dryness were the remarks by visitors of the irony that the committee boat’s name is ‘Irish Mist’ on a soaking wet day with a moderate breeze that built to 20 knots by the final race. Principal Race Officer Anthony O’Leary promised quick windward-leeward races of under an hour and a 0.8-mile beat ensured a fast programme.
The prospect of clear skies and breeze for Day 2 will see another three windward-leeward races in place of the planned coastal race as near gale conditions forecast for Wednesday may disrupt the event programme.
The fleet has been reduced by one boat as Superhero by owned Toni Stoschek and Janne Tulokas was dismasted in race two. The class had previously rallied to ensure Finnish crew would make the start-line after their original mast was wrecked when a HGV reversed into it while waiting to board a ferry in Holyhead.
The Half Ton spirit is especially in the mind of class President Philippe Pilatte of General Tapioca, currently lying seventh overall. “With a good team and good sails, it is possible to race a 40-year old boat competitively,” he said. “It’s all part of the history of yacht racing and keeping it alive; it is ‘competition with roots.’” Feeding back information to the IRC Rating office to help older boats remain competitive with modern designs is also a class priority.
Full results here