by Louay Habib

Sunday 21st August – Friday 26th August 2011  

Organised by Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes in cooperation with the Half Ton Class Europe

The Half Ton Cup was established in 1966 and later flourished under the IOR rating rule until 1993. The cup was a prized possession the world over - winning skippers and designers of Half Tonners read like a who’s who of the major figures in yacht racing, at the time and for decades to follow. The Half Ton Cup often attracted over 50 entries and was staged in France, Sweden, Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Greece, Finland and Spain. The last Half Ton Cup held under IOR was in Bayonne, Spain in 1993.

Since 2003, the Half Ton Class Europe has led the revival of the former IOR half tonners, using IRC as the rating system of choice. This August, the Half Tonners will be gathering again en masse, at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes. The 2011 Half Ton Classics Cup is open to all Half Tonners, designed and built between 1967 and 1994, subject to other conditions. Bert Janssen is chairman of the Half Ton Class Owners’ Association and he is expecting a fantastic turn out for this year’s regatta.

“We have entries and expressions of interest from over 30 yachts and there may be considerably more coming to Cowes. Half Tonners from Belgium, France and the United Kingdom make most of the entries but we also confirmed entries from Finland, Germany and Ireland”, commented Janssen. “We race under IRC because boats have been modified over the years making it impossible to have races under the old IOR Rule. IRC is the only viable option in Europe for good handicap racing, given the composition of the fleet.”


General Tapioca

photo from 

Belgian skipper, Philippe Pilate is considered one of the favourites for the event. The 1978 Jean Berret designed Half Tonner, General Tapioca, has competed in the previous four editions of the Half Ton Classic Cup winning in 2003 and the last edition in 2009.

Runner up in 2009 was David Evans’ Hullabaloo XV. She competed in the 1979 Half Ton Cup as Nenno but since then the Stephen Jones designed yacht has had a new, taller rig and is considered a force to be reckoned with. Robbie Tregear’s Per Elisa was third in 2009, she was the last Half Tonner ever built. The Ceccarelli design was a hot favourite for the 1992 Half Ton Cup but came out a close second to local Spanish hero Pedro Campos, sailing Marfrio. Per Elisa also raced as Sail Line in 1993, coming third. Per Elisa is a stunning example of the development of the Half Ton Class and one of only a few that were built using composite materials, a true Italian masterpiece.


Per Elisa

There is no doubt that there will be a serious competition on the water. Renovating and maintaining a vintage boat requires a lot of tender loving care, and as the event only takes place every two years all of the competitors will have been waiting with anticipation for the 2011 Half Ton Classic Cup.

However, the event is not just about the racing or overall victory. In 2009, the organising committee decided to award the ‘Half Ton True Spirit Trophy’ to the boat and crew who most lived up to this ’Half Ton spirit’. An all-female shore team decided upon the winners, and all week long teams tried to influence their voting. Finally the trophy was awarded to the Irish entry King One, sailed by Dave Cullen and his crew, after they performed their version of ‘Molly Malone' at the final prize giving. One would imagine that the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club will be well stocked with fine food and beverages for the event, there is no doubt that the competitors will want to enjoy the full hospitality of the club this August!

Twelve races are scheduled between 23 – 26 August including a round the Island race, weather permitting.

For more information visit the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Web site:

Test your knowledge

What was the name of the boat that won the first Half Ton Cup in 1966?

Where was the venue?

IOR was not used until 1971, what rule of measurement was used from 1966 to 1970?

Answers will be added to this article at the end of April.

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Header images by:

John Crawley (CAN IRC)  
Jinno (c/o JPN IRC)
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