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Ocean Elements 2018

Headbanger finish at Irish J/24 National Championship at Lough Erne Yacht Club

by J/Boats 1 Sep 20:07 BST 23-25 August 2019
2019 Irish J/24 National Championship © Martin Denneny

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 J/24 National Championship.

But, as the morning went on, the wind started to build and by the time the fleet had made it to the race area a steady 10-12 kts had materialized. That enabled LEYC's PRO 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 day's racing, Cillian Dickson's Headcase from Howth Yacht Club was lying in third place behind Darragh McCormack's Stouche from Foynes Yacht Club in first and JP McCaldin's El 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. 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 and win on countback. Dickson's crew included Sam O'Byrne, Cillian Dickson, Marcus Ryan, Ryan Glynn, and Louis Mulloy.

Tadgh O'Loinsigh on Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club sailed a superb series and is the new ICRA Under 25 J/24 National Champion. His crew included Hugh Stewart, Tadgh McSweeney, Brian Fox, and Donnagh O'Buachalla. He will receive a 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 programs.

Colm O'Flaherty's Jana from Sligo Yacht Club won the Silver Fleet. Meanwhile, Conor Houghton's Jade from Wicklow Sailing Club won the Bronze Fleet.

The band playing outside on the Saturday night was a little bit of magic and gave the event a festival feel and the racing finished on a high with three great races.

The Lough Erne YC would like to thank Brian and also Martin O'Reilly and Sinéad Enright who are also stepping down this year, for all their hard work and commitment to the association over the past few years. We would also like to wish newly elected President Mark Usher from Greystones Sailing Club the very best of luck and to welcome Tadgh O'Loinsigh from Tralee Bay Sailing Club as the Under 25 representative on the new committee.

The Lough Erne YC's race manager had this commentary on the racing:

"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 1.

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 bit. At that point, about half the fleet made the change to their larger genoa headsail. 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 J/24'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, were the local team of JP Caldin on Il Riccio and Headcase owned and sailed by the first graduates of the Howth YC J/24 "Under 25" development program."

The Foynes YC U-25 Team had this to say:

"So glad to be out here in Enniskillen; what a fantastic venue to compete in. Our team's 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. The PRO Derek Bothwell and his team set great courses that 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!"

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