J/24 Western Championships – Lough Ree Yacht Club
Light winds welcomed the 13 boat fleet to the first event of the 2023 season over the weekend 29th/30th April. After about a 2 hour delay the wind finally started to fill in allowing race officer Derek Bothwell to setup the first course of the day.
Race 1 saw Jelignite skippered by Finbarr Ryan use local knowledge to his advantage to pick up a wind shift coming out of the bay on the starboard side of the course allowing them to take an early lead which they kept to the finish. Current National champions Headcase (Cillian Dickson) took second and Hedgehog (Mark Usher) took 3rd.
Race 2 had to be restarted due to a 40 degree shift just after the start. After a short delay racing got underway in about 5-8 knots. This time IL Riccio (JP McCaldin) made best use of the conditions and held off Headcase to take the bullet with Hard on Port helmed by David Bailey finishing third.
Race 3 saw IL Riccio and Hedgehog battle it out for honours with each swapping positions several times, however IL Riccio had the last say by picking up a lift on the finish line to take the honours with Hard on Port finishing in third again. Sunday dawned with a bit more breeze and Headcase revelled in the conditions taking 2 firsts in races 4 and 5 with IL Riccio getting a second and third and Hard on Port a third and second . This left 3 boats with a chance of winning the event overall going into the last race.
The Hard on Port team sailed an excellent race to win race 6 however it was not enough to win overall as Headcase finished second giving them enough points to win the Championship and with IL Riccio finishing in third place securing them the runners up spot.
Congratulations to Headcase for winning overall and SkipJack Skipped by James Hockley for winning the silver fleet. Roll on the Northerns at the end of May.