There were weekend tributes to J24 Class supremo Flor O’Driscoll who stood down as Class President to great acclaim and a standing ovation at Saturday evening’s dinner not only for his service to the fleet but also his continuing success afloat, that has included national titles as well as Dun Laoghaire Regatta Boat of the Week in 2007. As an appropriate send–off, the weekend National Championship at Sligo Yacht Club fielded one of the big Irish fleets for some time.
Lough Erne Yacht Club‘s JP McCaldin emerged overall winner after a blustery three-day regatta.
The Northern Ireland victory follows a similar outcome at the J24 Western Championships in May on the Shannon Estuary at Foynes Yacht Club.
Sailing against a 26–strong fleet – a record turnout for recent times – plus a match-race challenge from runner-up Stefan Hyde, McCaldin scored all first and second places for the eight race series.
His principal challenger was almost as consistent with four wins as well but the Royal Cork skipper also had to count a fourth and a third to admit defeat by just three points.
The duelling leaders were followed by a closely bunched pack led by Sligo yachtsman Martin Reilly on Crazy Horse who comfortably secured third place going into the final thanks to a consistent run ofmostly top five results.
Howth Yacht Club Race Officer Derek Bothwell returned to Sligo with the J24’s once more and delivered the series in challenging weather, particularly for the first two days that saw strong winds whip big seas that provided thrilling surfing conditions for the fleet.