Next week the Royal Yacht club of Nieuwpoort will be hosting the Half Ton Classic Cup, a regatta with and for vintage racing yachts. 25 boats from five European countries are entered, but this number may change in the days before the start
This regatta for old IOR-half tonners emanated from the enthusiasm and the hearts of the owners themselves: Skippers that sailed these boats in the 1970s and 1980s and continue to do so or young sailors who appreciate the simplicity and the democratic spirit, like for instance the Belgian youngsters racing the legendary Waverider. The half tonner prototypes were designed and build to fit into the handicap system that ruled the heyday of yacht racing: the IOR (International Offshore Rule).
In fact all these boats had similar performances and it was the crews that made the difference - this was the theory behind the handicap rule. The half tonners were tremendously popular in both short inshore races as long distance races such as the Solitaire du Figaro and the Fastnet Race. The actual owners are true skippers: they sail at their own expense. Boats will be arriving in Belgium from as far afield as La Rochelle, Dublin or even .. Helsinki (thanks to the ferry).
Since the IOR-era ended some 20 years ago, many owners have been modifying their boats constantly in search for more speed or just to comply with new rating formulas. In order to allow both original and modified half tonners, the organising committee of the Half Ton Classic Cup decided to apply the current IRC-rating system, giving all participants equal chances of victory, thus maintaining the emphasis on the crews.
The races will be sailed from Tuesday 19 until Saturday 23 August, with one layday on Friday. Among the principal potential winners are the Belgians with General Tapioca, a regular competitor at Ramsgate Week and the Commodore's Cup and the French Sibelius which was at Ford Cork Week last year and the English team on Dick Dastardly. The Irish boat Blue Berret Pi as also a strong contender for the top spot in Nieuwpoort.