Seahorse Magazine March 2016
by James Dadd
I read with interest the editors piece in the copy of Seahorse that was the first piece of post through the front door in January. I sense the frustration in Andrew’s keyboard, and have both sympathy and some agreement. However, I think that is one of the biggest issues; no one seems to agree on the best event for that great trophy. We all have ideas, and all think they are the best solution, but they all vary. I agree with Andrew that you can’t create an event worthy of the Admiral’s Cup of old, it has to evolve. But where from? That is the area we all have different views on, and any event started with the intention of becoming the Admiral’s Cup in a few years is doomed from the start in my opinion. I believe that the event has to present itself as the obvious choice over time, not be created for that purpose.
However, I do believe that we do finally have a class evolving that could be worthy of another great trophy of that age – the One Ton Cup. In the autumn of 2015 a group of owners gathered in the Solent area and agreed on the creation of the Fast 40+ class along the same lines as the successful Maxi 72 class. As with the Maxi 72s, many of the boats have evolved from an area in IRC that allows full on racing boats of this size to appear. But interestingly there are also boats from the HPR world and from the GP42 fleet now all racing competitively under IRC. The result is the Fast 40+ race circuit. At the point I write this there are 12 confirmed entries in the circuit for 2016, and all are true competitors, no hangers on. The racing should be extremely exciting and close. The fleet includes Ker 40+ & 40s, GP42s, Carkeek 40s and an HH 42. A further 3 boats are looking to join at this stage with a truly international flavour, not just a GBR fleet as we ended up with under IRM. Racing will be varied, and these boats are truly capable of adding offshore classics, such as the Rolex Fastnet Race to their calendar.
Image: RORC / www.pwpictures.com
This is a perfect example of not pushing a class, but letting it form. We hoped to create just this type of fleet when IRM was drafted, but we never got something you could call a real fleet of 40 footers. The ORC tried the same with the GP42 with similar success, as did HPR. The big difference here is that the class has formed itself, and evolved to this point. The owners have made the choices, not the rating authorities.
As with the One Tonners of old, this is a rating band, but rather than using IOR, these boats use IRC. A full circuit has been established for 2016 and with Rob Greenhalgh leading the development it is clear that the sailors will stay in charge, and whilst we will lend our support, and the class has the full backing of the RORC and IRC, we will not do more than we are asked to do. This is not our class or idea, so we aren’t going to break it!!
As with the Maxi 72 and TP52s, another good area of allowing a class to evolve is that we are not asking the owners to start from scratch with a blank cheque. That is the problem with a new class like this; no one knows what a truly developed boat is going to cost. But with the Fast 40+ fleet, they have already pushed the envelope and the class is not based around a single design, but a group of designs based on the various owners wishes.
Image: RORC / www.pwpictures.com
I very much hope to see the class and the circuit expand and increase, and see no reason why it won’t. If the class could find the One Ton Cup and the current owners of it would allow it to be awarded to the winner of the Fast 40+ circuit then I see no reason we won’t have 40 boats competing in a couple of years, and the circuit expanding across Europe and in to the USA and beyond. I am sure Benj would love to get a new Spookie and race for the One Ton Cup out of the NYYC, but who wouldn’t?
Maybe from this the editor’s ideas of the Admiral’s cup could evolve. We are seeing a similar group of boats in the 30 foot range working together in a similar vein, with Jochem Visser at the helm. Again racing under IRC and incorporating the current breed of sportboats. So maybe what the editor is dreaming of will quietly create itself whilst we all wonder what to do about it. I hope so.