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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 writes Elaine O'Mahoney. 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 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.

J24 1J24 National National Champions Headcase Sam O’Byrne, Cillian Dickson, Marcus Ryan, Ryan Glynn, Louis Mulloy. The Commodore of Lough Erne Yacht Club John Carton and Head of the Organising Committee June Clarke are pictured at either end Photo: Martin Denneny/LEYC

J24 2ICRA Under 25 J24 National Champion Janx Spirit Tadgh O’Loinsigh, Hugh Stewart, Tadgh McSweeney, Brian Fox, Donnagh O’Buachalla Photo: Martin Denneny/LEYC

Tadgh O’Loinsigh on Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club sailed a superb series and is the new ICRA Under 25 J24 National Champion. 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 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 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. 

Full results downloadable below

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In complete contrast to Day 1, the forecasted steady wind of 10-15 knots failed to materialise on Day 2 of the J24 Nationals at Lough Erne Yacht Club, writes Elaine O’Mahoney.

Race 5 started on schedule yesterday (Saturday 24 August) 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.

Boats becalmed on Lough Erne yesterday at the J24 NationalsBoats becalmed on Lough Erne yesterday at the J24 Nationals

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. Results so far can be found HERE.

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While the official entry was thirty-one 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 writes Elaine O'Mahoney.

The under 25 team from Royal Cork Yacht Club at their first J24 event were unfortunate to have broken a mast immediately after the start of the first race but thanks to the efforts of Lough Erne Yacht Club they are being loaned another boat to enable them to compete in day two. The 2019 AGM took place after racing and Brian McDowell from Howth Yacht Club stepped down as President.

The committee 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.

We asked three boats to give a summary of their first day of racing at the J/24 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 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 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 McCormacks 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

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With just over a week to go until the start of the J/24 National Championships on Ireland's second-biggest lake, the entry has hit 30 with at least another three boats promised to enter writes JP McCaldin

This is the largest entry ever, surpassing the 29 at the Royal St George in 1999, and almost triple the entry of the last time the event headed North in 2014.

The class can claim fairly to be an all-Ireland class with entries from Kerry to Derry, Cork to Carrickfergus, Malahide to Mullaghmore, Dublin, Foynes, Athlone, Sligo and many points in between. The largest entry is from the host club who have mustered 8 boats with a 9th chartered to Royal Cork’s U25 team. The event boasts at least 5 under 25 teams and at least four past Irish champions.

No team has dominated 2019 with the two completed events so far this season both coming down to the last race and going to different winners. Team McCormack in Stouche, Foynes YC, took the Southerns in May in Fenit by a single point and fresh from their victory in the Mermaid nationals are among the favourites. The Easterns in Howth in June again came down to the last race with Fergus Kelliher and team on Jibe, Tralee Bay SC, taking their first event win in the J24. Local team and 2017 champions El Riccio have been the bridesmaid on both occasions can they go one better on home waters? Multiple Irish champion Cillian Dixon the Howth u25 team graduate and his team on Headcase are sure to be in the mix, as will the Ushers from Greystones who were victorious on the last visit to the Erne in September 2018. No preview of runners and riders would be complete without a mention of Flor O'Driscoll and his Hard on Port team who are even more successful in winning in Ulster than his beloved Munster rugby team.

With the fleet split into gold, silver and bronze fleets after day 1 there will be something to race for, for everyone throughout the fleet. The winner automatically qualifies for the worlds in Poole in 2020 with extra qualification points available for the runners up. Pure one design racing will be enforced with a day of measurement prior to the event, several crew are rumoured to have been on diets to make the 400kg crew weight limit. To ensure on fair sailing on the water umpiring will be provided by Gordon Davies and Derek Bothwell, the classes adopted race officer, and his team will provide championship standard races.

With generous sponsorship from North Sails, Fermanagh and Omagh council,, Sport NI and Experience Enniskillen, the entry has been kept to a minimum, and great prizes guaranteed throughout the fleet.

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The J/24 Eastern Championships took place last weekend at Howth Yacht Club writes Elaine O'Mahoney. The two-day event was run in conjunction with the Squib Easterns which made for a very busy lifting schedule for the cranes at HYC with thirty-five boats between both fleets.

The weekend brought challenging weather conditions for OOD Derek Bothwell and his team and wind shifts of 20 to 40 degrees were commonplace throughout day one keeping the race team very busy. While the seventeen J/24s taking part were racing windward-leeward courses the OOD was also laying a trapezoid course for the Squib fleet with a rolling start, Squibs followed by J24s.

1. J24 EasternsThe J24 Easterns fleet at Howth

After a brief delay waiting for the wind to settle race one got off in just over 10kts westerly breeze. Mark Usher on Jumpin Jive IRL3060 took the early lead which he held all the way to the finish and left the battle for places to the remainder of the fleet behind him. The changes in wind direction meant there was a considerable delay before the next race. When race two eventually got underway the J24 fleet had the benefit of seeing the strengthening tide push the Squib fleet over the line for two general recalls and were on their best behaviour to get a clear start first time. In race two and three, Fergus Kelliher’s Jibe IRL4252 from Tralee Bay Sailing Club and JP McCaldin’s IRL5219 El Rico from Lough Erne Yacht Club traded the first two places. After seven hours on the water, the fleet was happy to head for home and a well-earned dinner in Howth Yacht Club.

2. J24 Easterns Jibe ahead of Gala RacingJibe ahead of Gala Racing at the J24 Easterns at HYC

Sunday brought sunshine and more settled wind direction from the south but this time the challenge was wind strength. Race four started in a steady 6-knots but was shortened on the second beat as winds lessened. Simon McGibney’s Gala Racing IRL5278 took first place. Thankfully wind, as forecast, increased to 8 to 10 knots as the morning progressed enabling the OOD to complete two more races. Steve Atkinson’s Bád IRL4628 from Carrickfergus Sailing Club won race five. The final result for the overall winner came down to the final race between JP McCaldin’s El Rico and Fergus Kelliher’s Jibe. While Headcase IRL4247, helmed by Killian Dickson, won their first race of the event, Jibe’s third place finish ahead of El Rico’s sixth was enough for them to take their first regional championship win in the Gold Fleet.

This was a hugely competitive event with no boat dominating the series and six different winners in each of the six races. All participants complemented Howth Yacht Club for hosting a fantastic event and in particular the crane operators for their efficiency and the OOD Derek Bothwell for completing all six scheduled races in extremely challenging conditions.

The next event in the J/24 calendar is the J/24 National Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club from the 23rd to the 25th August. The fleet are pushing for thirty boats to take part. Any boats needing crew or logistics to do with the event are encouraged to contact Lough Erne Yacht Club or the J/24 Association who will assist in any way they can.

Gold Fleet:
1st Jibe Fergus Kelliher Tralee Bay Sailing Club
2nd El Rico JP McCaldin Lough Erne Yacht Club
3rd Headcase O’Byrne, Ryan & Others Howth Yacht Club/Lough Ree Yacht Club/Mayo Sailing Club

Silver Fleet:
1st Gala Racing Simon McGibney Foynes Yacht Club
2nd Jana Colm O’Flaherty Sligo Yacht Club
3rd Gossip Brian Rafferty Sligo Yacht Club

Full results here

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The J24 Southern Championships were held at Tralee Bay Sailing Club over the weekend of 24/25 May. Fifteen boats travelled from all over Ireland for the event including four local boats.

Racing was scheduled at 1125 on Saturday but contrary to the forecast there wasn’t a puff of wind. Eventually a light breeze filled in from the NW and PRO Peter Moore sent the fleet off on two laps of a windward-leeward course, The breeze was shifty and fickle but eventually, all boats finished within the time limit. There was a further delay as the wind strengthened and backed to the SW.

Race 2 was all action as Janx Spirit lead at the leeward mark for the final time only for a problem with their spinnaker to allow Stouche through. Stouche lost a crew overboard though at their next tack wnd could only finish in 6th. Race three and four were more orderly affairs although the wind had increased to 20 knots or more.

Overnight Stouche lead on 6 points with Il Ricco and Gossip hard on their heels both on 7 points.

Sunday morning was fresh and sunny with a steady NW breeze. Peter started bang on time and race 5 finished with Gala Racing in 1st followed by Stouche and Il Ricco. It was still wide open for the final race and Il Ricco lead for most of the way to take another win. Stouche was 3rd at the leeward mark but just edged out Janx Spirit to claim 2nd at the finish line.

A protest delayed the final results but eventually, Stouche was declared the winner on 10 points with Il Ricco second on 11 and gossip 3rd on 15. The silver fleet was won by Gala Racing with Yachtzee second and Crazyhorse 3rd. The under 25 team prize went to Janx Spirit.

J24 Southern Championships Results

Sail No Boat Type of Boat Owner Points Place R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6
IRL4215 Stouche D. McCormack 10 1 2 6 3 1 2 2
5219 Il Ricco JP. McCaldin 11 2 1 5 1 5 3 1
IRL4212 Gossip B. Raftery 15 3 3 1 4 3 9 4
IRL4252 Jibe F. Kelliher 27 4 4 4 7 11 5 7
IRL8824 Janx Spirit Tadg O'Loinsigh 30 5 6 3 6 12 14 3
IRL5278 Gala Racing McGibney/O'Mahony 32 6 8 8 12 7 1 8
IRL5067 Jana C. O'Flaherty 32 7 5 14 2 4 7 18
IRL3060 Jumpin Jive M. Usher 33 8 10 9 5 6 8 5
IRL4794 Hard on Port F. O'Driscoll 38 9 12 7 13 2 4 18
IRL4532 Jelegnite F. Ryan 42 10 11 2 8 10 12 11
IRL5285 YachtZee D. O'Donovan 43 11 9 12 10 13 6 6
IRL4533 Crazyhorse L. McBride 49 12 7 13 9 8 13 12
IRL4188 Jasper 2 FoynesU25 50 13 13 11 11 9 10 9
IRL400 Jaguar G. Fort 60 14 14 10 15 18 11 10
GB4083 Jenepi Daly/Magowan 71 15 15 15 14 14 15 13
IR4384 Proud Mary McGibney/O'Mahony 90 16 18 18 18 18 18 18
IRL4628 Bad S. Atkinson 90 16 18 18 18 18 18 18

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9th December 2018

Gerry Gilligan, RIP

Gerry Gilligan, who was very widely known and loved in Irish sailing has died. Gerry was an avid and accomplished GP14 dinghy and J/24 helmsman and sailor, and will be very much missed writes Michael Clarke.

He was a good friend and strong supporter of Lough Erne Yacht Club and our recent Autumn J/24 Series in which he first competed with Barry Humphreys in TJ then in his own newly acquired J/24 Jana. The funeral notice is below: 

Gerry Gilligan, Parkhill, Ballyshannon Co. Donegal. Peacefully at his residence. Veterinary Surgeon. Remains will repose at his residence today (Sunday 9 December) from 4pm until 10pm and on Monday from 2pm until 10pm. House private at all other times. Remains will arrive in St. Patrick's Church, Ballyshannon on Tuesday for 12pm Funeral Mass followed by interment in Saint Ninnidh's Cemetery, Bundoran.

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Mark Usher of Greystones Sailing Club is Ireland’s new 2018 Northern J/24 Champion helming Jumpin Jive in a six-race championship on Lough Erne in boisterous very windy conditions on 29 & 30 September. This top crew counted three firsts and two seconds in their nett final score (7). A month previous, the Jumpin Jive team had emerged second among the three Irish boats in the 2018 World J/24 Championship – a record 89 strong World J/24 fleet on Lake Garda, Italy.

Lough Erne YC hosted this event as part of bicentenary celebrations, 1818-2018. Boats and helms came from ten clubs, Greystones, Foynes, Kilrush, Bray, Carrickfergus, Erne, Sligo, Lough Ree, Lough Swilly and Mullaghmore SC (Bronagh Carvill, only woman helm in LEYC boat Jeriatrix).

JnJ Champion crewIrish Northern J/24 Champion, Mark Usher & crew, at the prizegiving with June Clarke and John Carton, LEYC Commodore

Sponsors were Waterways Ireland and Modern Tyres. There was much praise for event committee chair and organiser, LEYC Fleet Captain June Clarke, unanimously elected also to the Committee of the J/24 Association of Ireland at Friday evening’s AGM. The fleet was bisected, Gold fleet, modern J/24s and six Silver fleet, all old Westerly boats built about 1980.

Second Gold and overall, Simon McGibney’s Gala Racing, road-towed north from Kilrush, counted a first and second in nett 15 points. Third, the fleet’s senior sailor, Flor O’Driscoll, from Bray, counted only a first in his nett 15 equal points. Fourth, from Carrickfergus, Steve Atkinson’s Bád had best place a second in nett 21. Fifth Gold and best home club LEYC boat, Diarmuid O’Donovan counted two fourths in nett 24 points. Mark McCormack’s Stouche, best of three Irish in Italy’s World event emerged sixth on Lough Erne – wild and windier than Lake Garda! Ninth Gold was Tim Rippey’s Jigalo, LEYC, best a fifth place. This excellent J/24 was twice borrowed to win in a World Championship, but seriously lacked crew weight this very windy weekend.

Luke McBride, Lough Swilly, helming Bandit, clearly topped the Silver fleet. Bandit is also top scoring boat in the 2018 LEYC Autumn Sunday series. Ken Draper, Sligo in Jevan was second Silver and Barry Humphreys, LEYC, third Silver in TJ. Bronagh Carvill, building J/24 helming experience, did very well in 1979 vintage Jeriatrix with a very light crew for the conditions.

LEYC’s third successful Autumn Sunday J/24 series, four races each afternoon then a BBQ, had attracted a dozen J/24s, local and visiting. Scoring includes the six Championship races, 22 in all, including the two final Sundays, 7 & 14 October. Down in Kilrush, a similar October endeavour is planned for six J/24s. Local J/24 events like these have happened all round the world near 40 years past - J24s still being the world’s most popular and widespread keelboat class.

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The J24 National Championships concluded at Foynes Yacht Club today in a light to moderate westerly breeze. OOD Derek Bothwell was able to start on schedule for the first time this weekend after hours spent waiting around for wind. Race six of the championships got off to a clear start with the fleet splitting both left and right on the course in a flooding tide. Gala Racing, who went right on the first beat and left on the second, got their first win of the championships followed by HYC’s under 25 team Scandal in 2nd and Tim Corcoran on Crazyhorse in third.

Download results below

As the tide strengthened and wind lightened the race course was shortened before the start of the final race of the event. Flor O’Driscoll tacked off to the right immediately after the start keeping further right than any other boat and emerged with a clear lead by the windward mark. A battle for second developed between Jibe, Crazyhorse and Jumpin Jive who exchanged places numerous times on both the upwind and downwind legs with Crazyhorse finishing in 2nd just ahead of Jumpin Jive.

J24 Under 25 National Champions 2018J24 Under 25 National Champions 2018 – the crew of Scandal 

With the championship complete and boats lifted out attention turned to the prizegiving. There were multiple changes in positions in the fleet after the final two races. In Gold, Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Stefan Hyde on Maurice Johnson and Partners is the new J24 National Champion for 2018. The new under 25 National Champion is Harry Cronin and Scandal from Howth Yacht Club.

A number of initiatives brought in for this year’s event were very successful. The trialling of On the Water Judging conducted by Gordon Davies was well received by the competitors. Also the introduction of a Bronze Fleet made for competitive sailing for all competitors.

The association acknowledged the support of the sponsors of the event and ICRA for their support and finally the host club and its members for a great weekend of sailing! 

GOLD Fleet

1st – Maurice Johnson and Partners – Stefan Hyde
2nd – Crazyhorse – Tim Corcoran
3rd – Hard on Port – Flor O’Driscoll

1st – Gala Racing – Simon McGibney
2nd – FYC Under 25 Team – Michael Lynch
3rd – Kilcullen – Colin O’Sullivan

1st – Jevan – Ken Draper/Adam Sutor
2nd – Blue Jay – Brian McDowell
3rd – NUIG Galway – Aaron O’Reilly

1st – Scandal – Harry Cronin
2nd – FYC Under 25 – Michael Lynch
3rd – Kilcullen – Colin O’Sullivan

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With no visible wind this morning OOD Derek Bothwell issued a two-hour postponement to the start of day two of the J24 National Championships at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary. A perfectly timed postponement for many competitors who wished to watch the Ireland v Australia match. And just as the final whistle in the match blew the AP came down to head to the race area with the prospect of wind!

However, wind did not fill in as expected and a further AP was signalled afloat which resulted in some swimming and more ice cream and a lot of moving of marks to find the right race course in a fickle and patchy wind and baking sunshine. With time running out and at least one more race needed to complete the championship the first gun for race one was finally signalled at 1730hrs in a freshening westerly breeze.

As the race one start counted down the OOD drew competitor’s attention to the ebbing tide pushing competitors over the line and urged caution and a clear start was had. Two leaders emerged by the first windward mark with Martin Reilly’s Crazyhorse leading ahead of Darragh McCormack’s Stouche who held those positions to the finish.

In a day when even one race looked unlikely the fleet were delighted to be able to compete in a second race however as the tide increased in strength less caution was used at the start of race two resulting in a general recall and the U flag being raised and a number of boats still caught OCS on the second attempt. The breeze was up again which made for some spectacular close racing and numerous position changes throughout the race. Jibe, helmed by Fergus Kelliher from Tralee Bay Sailing Club, took his first win of the event followed Stefan Hyde in 2nd.

A championship dinner took place in the clubhouse that evening with a few short speeches from Foynes Commodore James McCormack and J24 President Brian McDowell both complimenting the race committee on getting in five race thus far and expressing their delight in the seeing the seven u25 teams taking part and highlighting the importance of bringing our young sailors from dinghies into keelboat racing.

A successful championship to date and hopeful of more sailing on today!

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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