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Teach Dinghy Sailing by Gaz Harrison
Teach Dinghy Sailing by Gaz Harrison

J/24 National Championship at Parkstone Yacht Club

by Tom Montgomery 2 Jun 2016 15:59 BST 28-30 May 2016

The weather could not have been more magnificent for the 2016 J24 Nationals, and the mix of the 'old' guard and new youth sailors showed what a popular and strong class the UK fleet still is thirty-eight years later. Fleets assembled from Parkstone YC, Saltash SC, RLYC, RWYC, Bude SC, East Dorset SC, Saltash SC the RYA and a young team from Ireland, Howth YC came to increase the level of competition further.

Day 1

Why would you ever need to sail abroad? Poole Bay put on some stunning conditions, with blazing sunshine and although a little more wind would have been preferable, 5 knots was just enough to get going after a short AP. From the outset battle lines were drawn throughout the fleet, with David Cooper on Jawbreaker, Duncan McCarthy on Madeleine, and Nick Phillips of the aptly named Chaotic pitching for the top three positions. Not far behind, Stuart Jardine (dare I say it, J24 veteran?!) made his return on Boomerang, holding off Matthew Conyers on Unity Lets, with Mark Lewers on Hijinks showing a strong first race performance coming in 6th. With only two laps to make up ground, Jawbreaker achieved the first bullet of the weekend, followed by Madeleine and Chaotic.

With no hanging around, the PRO Bryan Drake went straight into the next sequence, with family Pollock on Flying Colours flying off the start line and maintaining a lead for the first beat. Not far behind Madeleine, Jawbreaker and Chaotic took different tracks down the windward leg, with McCarthy cheekily getting the wind before the rest, and sailing into 1st, a position he'd achieve again on race three. Further down, but not far away from the front runners, positions were changing readily between Roger Morris on Jolly Roger, the famous Stig McDonald on Jeli and Dave Butter of Crackerjack, all showing notable boat speed and consistency.

By race 4, with a slight wind increase, the fleet had stretched their legs enough to have the first general recall of the regatta, giving the race committee a chance to fly the first black flag of the regatta.

The last start of the day saw a clean start by all, and Andy Taylor of Phoenix found the 'go' button sailing into 2nd place and holding it throughout the race, with Chaotic and Madeleine hot on their heels, and Jawbreaker achieving their second bullet of the regatta. The end of day one saw Cooper and McCarthy drawing with Phillips and Jardine not far behind on points.

Day 2

A remarkably fresh faced fleet emerged on Sunday morning for another four races in Poole Bay, with slightly stronger conditions. Howths K25 Squad in Irelands Eye Kilcullen had either had a night off the bottle or preferred the stronger conditions, kicking off day two with two solid wins. The previous days winners were a little off the pace, with Chaotic living up to its name as ever yo-yoing up and down the fleet. It is always good to see one of the last colourful J's out on the water, and Benjamin Maddafords Jam never disappoints. A number of first legs the front runner could see a blaze of red in the corner of their eyes as Jam had some speedy first legs. An almighty race was being fought with Austen Davies Jam Too, John Gorman on Italian Job, with both yachts trading places and thus points as if they were match racing.

The youngest team of the nationals, Team XP helmed by Liam Pardy and the PYC Youth Team were also showing the older members of the fleet how it's done, and in similar style swapped positions with Quinton Hall of Jabulani and Jam, leaving the three yachts with only one point between them at the end of the event... one design racing doesn't get more thrilling than that! Unity Lets had a brilliant second day with a 1st and 2nd to count, further stirring up the front runners results, leaving it even closer between the podium places.

Day 3

Yet again the morning saw another wind increase, and all to play for, with only two races to fit in before lunch. The Northerly wind meant trickier conditions, and more focus on where and when the wind was coming in and from. With only a point difference between Madeleine and Jawbreaker for the top two, and a point difference between Irelands Eye Kilcullen and Chaotic, and Andy Taylor on Phoenix a matter of points behind, the race was on. Phoenix knew exactly what they had to do, and after a superb start led the fleet, and held onto the pole position for the rest of the race, with Chaotic re-finding form and a shocker of a second day, and Madeleine just behind.

With the final race of the regatta the tension amongst the fleet was obviously high, and unsurprisingly another general recall was needed as a number of boats jumped the gun. The next attempt saw most of the fleet on the line as the gun went, and a clean start by all. Nicholas Phillips and team on Chaotic has a blinder of a start and kept focus stretching out a substantial lead from the outset, followed by Madeleine, Boomerang, Jawbreaker, Phoenix and the Howth K25 squad. The wind was patchy and wind lanes had to be found, with aggressive hiking on the more militant gusts to keep the boat speed up, all of the fleet worked their boats hard to get that extra edge to final finish of the event.

Many congratulations to Duncan & Hannah McCarthy, Steve Phelps, Spencer Whitworth and Charlie Fisher for holding onto their National Champion title, and to David Cooper and team for giving Madeleine some tough racing throughout. Team Chaotic managed to hold onto 3rd and fought off the Irelands Eye Kilcullen and Phoenix with two good last results, and further down the fleet points were equally as close.

Duncan said of the final day, "It was close this morning - just a point difference. With a northerly wind we knew it would be very shifty, with boats up and down. We were wondering whether to go for a bit of match racing, but thought we'd try and get a good start and go from there. Just one minute before the start the wind shifted making the pin end favoured so we went for the pin, managed to cross the fleet and played Jawbreaker from there."

Many thanks to Poole Regatta and to PRO Commodore Bryan Drake for putting on some fantastic racing and for skilfully fitting in ten races throughout the bank holiday weekend; also thank you to the class association and the Sandbanks Yacht Company for delivering the well needed beers after each days racing.

See you at the Europeans.

Plymouth look forward to welcoming the you for the J24 Europeans 13th - 19th August, please visit www.j24europeans2016.co.uk for more information.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the J/24 nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10Pts
1stMadeleine4265Duncan McCarthyParkstone YC211533‑613221
2ndJawbreaker4271David CooperSaltash SC12212436‑11425
3rdChaoticGBR 4177Nick PhillipsParkstone YC33434105(OCS)2135
4thPhoenix4242Andrew TaylorParkstone YC7(OCS)5257441540
5thIrelands Eye KilcullenIRL 680Howth K25 SquadHowth YC87‑11711275644
6thBoomerang4278Stuart JardineRLYC45‑10468786351
7thUnity Lets4245Matthew ConyersRoyal Western YC5‑12311951341152
8thJolly Roger4270Roger MorrisParkstone YC‑1311767111027869
9thFlying ColoursGBR 4266William PollockParkstone YC114‑15882121012976
10thHiJinksGBR 4213Mark LewersRoyal Western YC6812911985‑131280
11thJeliGBR 4260Stig McDonaldRWYC/SSC‑17691010121198782
12thCrackerjackGBR 4074Dave ButtersParkstone YC9961213613‑1691087
13thJam Too4206Austen DaviesBude SC10108141413911‑1515104
14thItalian Job4251John GormanRYA1513131612141414‑1713124
15thTeam XP5647Liam PardyParkstone YC121614‑17161616121614132
16thJabulaniGBR 4254Quinton HallEast Dorset SC1614‑1713151717151016133
17thJam4153Benjamin MaddafordSaltash SC14151615‑171515131417134

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