While the official entry was thirty-three for the 2019 J24 Irish National Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club, twenty-eight made it to the first start line including five under 25 teams.
DAY 1 – Friday, 23rd August
It was a busy first day for the organising committee so we asked three boats to give a summary of their first day of racing at the J/24 Irish National Championships in Lough Erne Yacht Club.
Reports from the Fleet
The forecast said “ten knots, gusting close to twenty”, but as the fleet made its way to the race course it was clear that the “Breeze was on” for day one. The starts were hectic with twenty-eight boats fighting for front row positions, the fleet got away clean for three of the four races.
The upwind legs were a battle between finding flatter water and picking your way through the wind shifts across the broad Lough. There were gains to be made on both sides of race course and all through the fleet boats traded positions with only small margin making the difference of often multiple places. The front half of the fleet was always still tightly packed as they approached the first windward mark, and with spinnakers hoisted and powerful gusts, the downwind legs in the first couple of races were fun and felt short. The leeward gate created opportunities as the fleet split each time for a second lap.
By the time the warning signal for Race 3 was raised, the breeze showed signs of dropping a little and about half the fleet made the change to their larger head sail. On balance, those who stuck with Jib’s probably fared better during the next race and only by Race 4 had the wind moderated enough to make sailing with the J24’s big Genoa really manageable.
With testing wind conditions and a very competitive fleet every place was fought for and as is so often the case in big fleets consistency was the key to success on day 1. After four races completed and still no discard, the McCormack’s Stouche from Foynes Yacht Club managed to stay just ahead of Flor O’Driscoll’s team in Hard on Port. Behind them and still in the running to grab the National title are the local team of JP Caldin on Il Ricco and Headcase owned and sailed by the first graduates of the Howth YC J24 “Under 25” development programme.
Day 2 promises a little less wind but even more competition.
– Brian Raftery – Gossip
Windier conditions today than expected gusting 25/26 kts easily. Some excellent close racing, testing the crew’s boat handling and tactical skills. A great job from the race committee getting all four scheduled races in. Roll on day two.
– Team Jumpin’ Jive
So glad to be out here in Enniskillen what a fantastic venue to compete in. Our teams first time racing here and it didn’t disappoint. While our results weren’t as good as we would have originally hoped we had a great day on the water all the same. OOD Derek Bothwell and his team set great courses which made for extremely competitive and nail-biting races for us all day long. We were met with testing conditions at the beginning of the day which gradually eased. It took us a while to get the boat going but we dusted off the cobwebs and eventually got into the groove. We are happy to say our results improved as the day progressed. Hopefully, our performance will continue to improve tomorrow and the day after.
– Foynes Yacht Club Under 25 Team
DAY 2 – Saturday, 24th August
In complete contrast to day one, the forecasted steady wind of 10-15 knots failed to materialise on day two of the J24 Irish Nationals at Lough Erne Yacht Club. Race five started on schedule in about 8 knots of wind but died just after boats round the first weather mark. It then became a battle to find the brief and small patches of breeze scattered around the race course. Just four boats made it back up to the weather mark on the second beat to complete the race within the time limit. Racing for the day was then abandoned. This race will feature as the discard for most of the fleet.
DAY 3 – Sunday, 25th August
The fleet awoke on Sunday morning to a lake that looked like a sheet of glass and were none too optimistic as they headed to the race course on the final day of racing at the Irish J24 National Championships. But as the morning went on wind started to build and by the time the fleet had made it to the race area a steady 10-12kts had materialized enabling OOD Derek Bothwell and his team to lay marks and get racing off on schedule. With just five races completed out of a scheduled nine the race management team were eager to get as many races in as possible and all racing for the day started with the U flag.
Going into the final days racing Cillian Dickson’s Headcase from Howth Yacht Club were lying in third place behind leaders Darragh McCormack’s Stouche from Foynes Yacht Club and JP McCaldin’s Il Riccio in second. However Headcase climbed their way back up winning the first two races but still needing to finish two places ahead of Stouche in the final race to secure the championship. That race was won by Jana from Sligo Yacht Club but Headcase’s third place ahead of Stouche’s fifth was enough for them to finish the event on level points with Stouche and win on countback. Close racing!
Tadhg O’Loingsigh on Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club sailed a superb series and is the new ICRA Under 25 J24 Irish National Champion. Along with the grant for this event he will receive an additional grant from ICRA to assist with his J/24 campaign which will be presented at the ICRA National Conference later this year along with a presentation on the importance of supporting under 25 programmes.
The Silver Fleet was won by Colm O’Flaherty from Sligo Yacht Club on Jana. The Bronze Fleet was won by Conor Houghton from Wicklow Sailing Club on Jade.
The 2019 AGM took place after racing on the Friday and Brian McDowell from Howth Yacht Club stepped down as President. The members would like to thank Brian for his work as President over the past few years and to wish newly elected President Mark Usher from Greystones Sailing Club the very best of luck.
In his opening comments as J/24 President, Mark thanked all the competitors for attending the event and Lough Erne Yacht Club as the hosts. He commented on the significant increase in numbers joining the fleet over the past few years, more than doubling the fleet from the 13 boats that took part in the J/24 Irish Nationals just four years ago. While some are returning to the fleet after a long absence he made specific mention of the number of new sailors to the fleet and in particular the under 25 teams taking part and thanked Richard Colwell (Chairperson) and the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) for their sponsorship in the form of a grant for each Under 25 taking part. He also commented on the inclusion of measurement checks at this year’s championships and thanked the competitors for their assistance in ensuring fair racing.
A three course championship dinner was held on Saturday night and attended by every boat. The weather was such that the band were able to play outside after the meal, a rarity given the weather this August, which gave the event a festival feel with the fire lighting and singing and dancing going on into the early hours of the morning.
The three day event finished on a high with three fantastic races on Sunday. Great racing and great entertainment ashore made for a very memorable weekend.
Full results available here by clicking here: