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J/24 One Design keelboat enthusiasts are in for a treat as the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) teams up with the International and Italian J/24 Classes to host the J/24 European Championship in 2024.

The event is open to all J/24s and is scheduled from 10th to 16th June. The 2023 Irish 'Headcase' winners will defend their title in Porto Cervo.

As regular Afloat readers know, the story of the restored J/24 Headcase in recent years has been a particularly heart-warming one of all-Ireland camaraderie and success, and in August, the emphasis was firmly on international success with a final race victory to give a two-point win in the J/24 Europeans on Lake Balaton in Hungary, racing against 42 boats from eight nations.

The 2024 championship will officially open on the evening of 12th June with the Skippers' Briefing, followed by a Welcome Cocktail on the panoramic terrace at the YCCS.

The eagerly awaited event will comprise of a total of 10 races scheduled from 13th to 16th June, with a maximum of four races to be held each day. 

The YCCS is delighted to welcome a fleet that has contributed significantly to the popularity of sailing, and the championship will definitely be one of the most sought-after events of the 2024 season for the Class. 

Entries are now open and will be accepted until 10th April 2024.

Published in J24
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Cillian Dickson’s 'Headcase' of Ireland won the 23-boat Corinthian division at the J24 World Championships in Greece on Saturday, but a last race tilt for an overall podium place in the open championship saw the Irish drop from second to fourth when they scored a lowly 21st in race ten. 

The Corinthian title completes a successful summer for the Headcase crew, who lifted the J24 Euro title late last month in Hungary.

Keith Whittemore’s Furio of the USA, with team Willem van Waay, Marianne Schoke, Brian Thomas and Melanie Edwards, has been crowned 2023 J/24 World Champions.

Whittemore, who also won the 2019 J/24 World Championship in Miami, Florida, USA, ended this event with only 25 net points in the full 10-race series.

Cillian Dickson’s Headcase of Ireland are Corinthian J24 World Champions for 2023 Photo: Nikos PantisCillian Dickson’s Headcase of Ireland are Corinthian J24 World Champions for 2023 Photo: Nikos Pantis

After discarding a 19 from race seven, the Seattle, Washington-based helmsman kept scores in the top seven, including three bullets. Ignazio Bonanno’s La Superba of Italy compiled their reliable solid scores all week, winning two races, for 40 net points and the silver position. Tony Parker’s Bangor Packet, also of the USA, was in the hunt throughout the Championship, placing third overall with 52 net points. Parker has been sailing in the J/24 Class for all of its 45 years, and shipped his hull #58 to Greece.

Cillian Dickson’s Headcase of Ireland won the 23-boat Corinthian division, also placing fourth overall and tied on points with Parker. The crew included Ryan Glynn, Marcus Ryan, Louis Mulloy and Sam O'Byrne. The all-amateur podium comprised Stephan Mais’ Running Men of Germany and Alexandros Tagaropoulos’s Hellenic Police of Greece.

The IJCA awarded its perpetual Youth Turner Trophy to Papanikitas Spiridon-Eleftherios’s Hellenic Naval Academy.

Competitors revelled in gorgeous conditions for five days at the Nautical Club of Thessaloniki in Greece. Saturday’s race winner was Kohei Ichikawa’s Gekko Diana of Japan.

Top Three Overall:
1) Keith Whittemore, Furio, USA, 25 points
2) Ignazio Bonanno, La Superba, ITA, 40 points
3) Tony Parker, Bangor Packet, USA, 52 points

Top Three Corinthian:
1) Cillian Dickson, Headcase, IRL
2) Stephan Mais, Running Men, GER
3) Alexandros Tagaropoulos, Hellenic Police, GRE

Published in J24
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A win in race nine has put Cillian Dickson's sole Irish crew into the silver medal position with one race left to sail at the 35-boat J24 World Championships in Greece.

The recently crowned Irish Euro Champions have recovered from a U Flag result earlier in the series to count a stunning 2, 3, 1 on the penultimate day at the Nautical Club in Thessaloniki. 

Seattle's Keith Whittemore sailing Furio sustained his hold on first place, although it was feast or famine for the American team with a bullet and a 19 on the day (the 19th becoming their discard). They have 21 net points, now being chased by the Irish on 30. Ignazio Bonanno’s La Superba of Italy is lying third on 37.

Dickson’s 'Headcase' crew preserved their hold atop the 23-boat Corinthian division. Check them out leading to a mark at eight seconds on this Facebook vid timeline from Day three below.

Race eight began on schedule at 1500 local time on Friday; however, was twice abandoned due to 30-degree wind shifts shortly after the start. When finally underway, Whittemore’s Furio added their third victory of the Championship, ahead of Ignazio Bonanno’s La Superba of Italy. Multiple teams suffered BFD penalties in race 9, but thriving was Dickson’s Headcase taking line honours, plus Manolakis Antonios’s Aurora–Spanopoulos runner-up and Whittemore third. Day four vid highlights are below.

The final championship race will be sailed on Saturday.

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Ireland will defend its J24 European title at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Italy, next year.

With the 33rd edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup now wrapped up (in which an Irish crew won Maxi Division A), work on the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's 2024 sporting calendar continues. 

From 10th to 16th June 2024, the European Championship for the J/24 class, one of the most popular one-design keelboats in the world, will be organised by the YCCS Association in Porto Cervo in association with the J/24 Class.

As regular Afloat readers know, the story of the restored J/24 Headcase in recent years has been a particularly heart-warming one of all-Ireland camaraderie and success, and in August, the emphasis was firmly on international success with a final race victory to give a two-point win in the J/24 Europeans on Lake Balaton in Hungary, racing against 42 boats from eight nations.

This week, the plucky Irish crew are contesting the World Championships in Greece, where day one saw a great start with two third places only to end with a UFD score in the third race as Afloat reports here

Published in J24
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Despite a promising start of two third places for Ireland's newest European sailing champions at this week's J24 World Championships, the Irish 'Headcase' crew suffered a setback on the final race of the opening day at Nautical Club Thessaloniki, Greece, when they scored a 'UFD'. 

The Cillian Dickson-led Corinthian crew are the sole Irish entry in the ten-nation event and are lying 11th overall in the 35-boat fleet. 

UFD means U-Flagged - a ruling where a boat is deemed to have prematurely started a race that is started under “U” Flag and is disqualified from that race and awarded the maximum number of points unless that race is subsequently restarted.

In a thrilling race to the finish, American sailor Keith Whittemore's boat 'Furio' held on to a narrow lead to emerge victorious in the first three races of the J/24 Class World Championship. The Championship, which marks the 45th anniversary of the event, saw sailors compete in ideal conditions of 8-10 knots and bright blue skies. The event was hosted by the Nautical Club of Thessaloniki in Greece and saw 35 boats participate, representing Argentina, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

Despite a strong start by Italian sailor Ignazio Bonanno's boat 'La Superba', which won the first race with style, Whittemore's 'Furio' soon took the lead, with two second-place finishes and a first-place finish in the final race. Bonanno's 'La Superba' held on to second place with 11 points, while Alexandros Tagaropoulos's 'Hellenic Police' of Greece came in third overall at 16 points, also topping the 20+ boat Corinthian division.

Dickson's 'Headcase' may have had an opening day setback, but he has already proved his mettle by winning the J/24 European Championship in Hungary just two weeks ago, as Afloat reported here.

Tony Parker's 'Bangor Packet' of the USA won the second race, with Whittemore and Dickson again runners-up.

Racing continues until Saturday. Results below.

Published in J24
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In the J24 national championship, where 20 boats compete as part of the ICRA National Championships at Howth, Kinsale Yacht Club's Under 25 crew on Kinsailor has lost its early lead to Bray Sailing Club's Hard On Port.

The one-design class was the only fleet to complete a single race on Friday's first day of racing, so it now has five results with any of six boats in the hunt for the title.

With two race wins, Hard on Port has eight points, with Kinsailor on 11. Third is Tadhg Loingsigh long travelled Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club on 12.

Racing contnoues on Sunday.

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The story of the restored J/24 Headcase in recent years has been a particularly heart-warming one of all-Ireland camaraderie and success, and in August the emphasis was firmly on international success with a final race victory to give a two-point win in the J/24 Europeans on Lake Balaton in Hungary, racing against 42 boats from eight nations.

Yet even with a team effort of this quality, we have to narrow the “Sailor of the Month” to one identifiable individual, and helmsman Cillian Dickson of Lough Ree YC and Howth YC has emerged as “The Face of Headcase”, spokesman for a close-knit yet multi-background squad which includes Marcus Ryan and Louis Mulloy of Mayo SC, Ryan Glynn of Ballyholme YC, and Sam O’Byrne of Howth YC

Published in Sailor of the Month
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A Lough Ree Yacht Club crew have been crowned J24 European champions after six races sailed in Hungary at the weekend.

The |rish Corinthian J24 crew of Headcase (and reigning Irish champions), skippered by Cillian Dickson, with Ryan Glynn, Marcus Ryan, Louis Mulloy and Sam O'Byrne, finished top of a 42-boat fleet by a margin of two points.

With eight nations, 42 boats and 210 competitors, the event took place over five days with five valid races out of the planned 10. Due to challenging wind conditions, no races were possible on the final day, so medals were awarded based on the standings from the fourth day.

Cillian Dickson, skippering Headcase, secured the European Championship title for Ireland. Schwere Jungs, led by Stefan Karsunke, claimed the silver medal for Germany. Meanwhile, Hungarian team iJroncat, helmed by Gábor Sallai, proudly took home the bronze. All three groups competed as all-amateur teams, among 37 of the total entries.

The fifth and last race day faced adverse wind conditions, reducing the Championship from the initially planned ten races to five. Thanks to the exceptional efforts of the Balatonfuredi Yacht Club's organisers and the Race Committee, led by Danish PRO Peter Lubeck, the event remained valid after five races and the possibility of one eliminated race.

The top 10 teams were awarded at the European Championship, with a special acknowledgement for the amateur category. Cillian Dickson, skipper of Headcase, expressed their happiness, exceeding expectations and prevailing in a highly competitive field. 

Published in J24
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The J24 Northern Championship, hosted by Mayo Sailing Club, saw 14 teams from around the country compete in six races over the weekend of 27th and 28th May. The event was raced in moderate winds and sunshine against the picturesque surroundings of Clew Bay.

The overall winner was Headcase, who scored four firsts and a second in the six races. The crew was Louis Mulloy, Marcus Ryan,  Cillian Dickson, Ryan Glynn and Ronan Armstrong.

The second place went to Janx Spirit, skippered by Tadgh O Loinsigh from Tralee Bay Sailing Club, who also finished second place to Headcase in the 2022 National Championships.

The third place was claimed by Hedgehog, sailed by Mark Usher and his crew from Greystones Sailing Club, improving on their fourth-place finish in the Western Championships at Lough Ree Yacht Club last month.

The J24 Northern Championship, hosted by Mayo Sailing Club

It was the first time Mayo Sailing Club have hosted the J24 fleet, and both the sailing and social side didn’t disappoint. The race committee, led by principal race officer Derek Bothwell, efficiently ran six races in good breeze and some challenging chop against the backdrop of a sunny Croagh Patrick.

Following lift-in and one slip-launched late-comer on Friday, crews were treated to a welcome feast of local Clew Bay mussels.

Live music and a great spread of Mediterranean-inspired food on Saturday evening went down well with sailors after a long day on the water in what could have been Costa del Mayo.

Four races were sailed on Saturday, with Headcase taking the first race win, followed by Hard on Port, helmed by Dave Bailey, in second and Hedgehog in third. Hedgehog excelled again in race 2, taking the race win in lighter breeze, with Janx Spirit in second and Jelignite in third.

The J24 Northern Championship, hosted by Mayo Sailing Club

The final two races of the day saw Headcase, Hard on Port, and Janx Spirit share the podium, leaving Headcase with a narrow overnight lead, ahead of HoP and Janx.

Day 2 was raced in a shifty offshore breeze. Headcase, HoP and Janx broke away from the rest of the fleet in race 5, trading places around the first lap before the tricky conditions allowed them to be reeled back in. Headcase held on for the race win, wrapping up the event with a race to spare to the delight of local spectators. Class stalworth JP McCauldin on Il Riccio got in for second place, with Diarmuid Mullen on Smugairle Roin finishing strongly to take third.

The breeze remained challenging for the final race, which Hedgehog lead around the course, only to be passed by Headcase on the final cross of the race. That result was still enough to secure a third overall for Hedgehog behind Janx Spirit. HoP dropped to 6th after a tough day which saw them retire from both races on day 2.

The J24 fleet would like to thank Mayo Sailing Club and all the volunteers for their warm welcome and hope not to leave it so long to return to Clew Bay.

Speaking after the event, the crew of Headcase said that they were delighted to get some very competitive racing under their belts in their last Irish J24 event of 2023. Their plans for the rest of the Summer see them bringing Headcase on an Odyssey to the Aegean Sea, challenging for the European Championships on the way in Lake Balaton, Hungary, in August before taking on the World Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece, in early September.

Published in J24
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Cillian Dickson and the crew of the J24 Headcase raced in the 2022 J24 European Championships hosted by Howth Yacht Club. Here Dickson reflects on the incredible 2022 season for the class and for him and the crew aboard Headcase.

2022 was the first time since 2013, when the same venue hosted the World Championships, that Irish waters have held a major international J24 event.

The 2013 Worlds were a feat of excellent organisation and produced stellar racing but, despite some excellent race results, no Irish boat made the top 18. Nine years later and the Irish are a driving force at the top of the rankings. Going into the final race of the 2022 European Championships, more than one home team could have taken the title, with the crew on Kinsailor missing out by just one point in the end. Rather than the class wilting in the wake of hosting a major event, it seems like 2023 will be an even bigger year for Irish J/24s.

After two years of lockdowns, we approached 2022 with an abundance of enthusiasm and energy. We put together a bucket list of events, with the first stop being Kieler Woche in Germany, one of the world’s largest regattas.

"Rather than the class wilting in the wake of hosting a major event, it seems like 2023 will be an even bigger year for Irish J/24s" 

Thanks to Brexit and some good luck, we managed to borrow a van and put the boat on a Dublin-Rotterdam ferry. Flying into Amsterdam, we then picked up the boat on the Monday morning and spent a day travelling to Kiel.

A full day of boat prep followed, while we waited to lift in. The scale of Kieler Woche was in sharp contrast to the Irish events we had done previously, and we were pleasantly surprised to go out on the first day and win all three races. It was clear we had a speed advantage over the local boats, many of whom were hitting the water for the first time that season.

Our spring training sessions in Lough Ree, Howth and Malahide meant our boat handling was crisp and we had a marginal speed advantage on the upwind. Once we got ahead, it was very difficult for other boats to reel us in. While we didn’t maintain that dominance over the next few days, as the cobwebs were being blown off the Germans and Swedish, we managed to close out the event with a victory.

Coming into Kieler Woche we had the advantage of relative anonymity, as we hadn’t yet competed outside of Ireland with the boat. With the UK Nationals two weeks later we had a target on our backs. However, after three days of mostly light wind racing, we emerged as winners of the event and the first Irish crew to win the UK nationals since Philip Watson in the inaugural event in 1978. It was also clear that the Irish fleet could hold their own against their UK counterparts. The crew on Janx Spirit from Tralee were unfortunate to miss out on a top three spot, finishing fourth, and it wasn’t until the final race of the event that a UK boat got a race win.

 Moving targets. The successful crew of Headcase in Plymouth were (left to right) Sam O'Byrne (Howth YC), Marcus Ryan (Mayo SC), Ryan Glynn (Ballyholme YC), Cillian Dickson (Lough Ree YC & HYC) and Louis Mulloy (MSC). Fresh from success at Kiel Week, they've moved on again, headed towards Volvo Cork Week for Monday morning via the overnight ferry Moving targets. The successful crew of Headcase in Plymouth were (left to right) Sam O'Byrne (Howth YC), Marcus Ryan (Mayo SC), Ryan Glynn (Ballyholme YC), Cillian Dickson (Lough Ree YC & HYC) and Louis Mulloy (MSC). Fresh from success at Kiel Week, they've moved on again, headed towards Volvo Cork Week for Monday morning via the overnight ferry

With a victory in the UK nationals under our belt there was no time to waste. The fleet becalmed on the last day of the event and the race committee sent us home as the 2pm time limit for running a race approached. That left us with about 21 hours to get the boat and crew to the start line of Cork Week. With very little sleep we arrived in Cork at 7am on Monday morning and managed to rig and launch for the first start. Tiredness doesn’t begin to describe how we were feeling by the end of the week, however we were happy to have won the ICRA national title on IRC, despite being soundly beaten by Sam Laidlaw’s BLT for the class prize.

Racing Headcase at Volvo Cork Week in July. Photo: Rick TomlinsonRacing Headcase at Volvo Cork Week in July. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

There was again very little rest between Cork Week and our next event which was the Irish National Championships in Foynes. Here we experienced some of our closest racing of the season yet. With the Irish fleet already having the Northern Championships under their belt, everyone was trying to build momentum for the Europeans. The score line of 6 first places in 8 races definitely flattered us, as often we were waiting for the last mark rounding or final boat handling maneuver to pull into the lead. By the end of the event we realised that we had overextended ourselves in the early season. Even though we had planned to bring the boat to Howth and start training for the Europeans, we decided it was best to take some time off and recoup some energy before the event.

 Sam Byrne and the Howth Headcase crew with the J/24 National Championship Trophy at Foynes Yacht ClubSam Byrne and the Howth Headcase crew with the J/24 National Championship Trophy at Foynes Yacht Club

It was in the Easterns, which was seen as a warm-up event for the Europeans that we first got a taste of what to expect from the team on Kinsailor. While many U25 teams have been set up in the last 10 years, the team on Kinsailor have really proven how successful the model can be. A pairing of good dinghy sailors with a fast boat and good kit made waves on the Irish and International scene. Despite breaking their mast in Race 2, they managed to source a replacement and push us all the way to finish second. This was a sign that they meant business for the Europeans. Indeed they put in a fine display in the Europeans, and in what was an uncharacteristically high-scoring event, they could have walked away as European Champions in their first year in the class.

The successful Headcase J/24 squad of Cillian Dickson, Sam O'Byrne, Ryan Glynn, Louis Mulloy and Marcus Ryan with their Easterns trophy at HowthThe successful Headcase J/24 squad of Cillian Dickson, Sam O'Byrne, Ryan Glynn, Louis Mulloy and Marcus Ryan with their Easterns trophy at Howth

Our Europeans were plagued by inconsistency. While we felt quick, we had several big things go against us, finishing 5th overall despite being in with a shot of winning going into the final race. We take great heart from the season and realistically we know we have the potential to win big in the future. With the Europeans in Hungary next year, followed by the Worlds in Greece, we have big plans for a transcontinental road trip with Headcase.

While we have had a great season on Headcase, it is excellent to see the other Irish boats stepping up. The great performances of Janx Spirit and Kinsailor have already been mentioned, but Hard on Port’s victory in the Northern Championships in their first season as owners of the boat is also noteworthy. The current strength and depth in the Irish fleet don’t stop there, with the likes of Il Riccio, Jibe and the Usher’s new boat Hedgehog always pushing hard.
Looking at the current success of the Irish J24 class it could be said that it has some of its origins in the disappointing 2013 season. As a member of the Howth Yacht Club K25 programme, I got a start in J24 sailing aboard Kilcullen at that time. The youth team concept was new to Ireland at that point but had strong success in Germany and other places. Since then, the class has benefited from new U25 teams adding numbers to the class. They also provide a steady stream of capable sailors who continue on in sailing and always seem to come back to the J24 class. Ultimately the various programmes have improved the level of racing, as well as the comradery and social scene.

Published in ICRA
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Ireland & La Solitaire du Figaro

The Solitaire du Figaro, was originally called the course de l’Aurore until 1980, was created in 1970 by Jean-Louis Guillemard and Jean-Michel Barrault.

Half a decade later, the race has created some of France's top offshore sailors, and it celebrated its 50th anniversary with a new boat equipped with foils and almost 50 skippers Including novices, aficionados and six former winners.

The solo multi-stage offshore sailing race is one of the most cherished races in French sailing and one that has had Irish interest stretching back over 20 years due to the number of Irish stopovers, usually the only foreign leg of the French race.

What Irish ports have hosted The Solitaire du Figaro?

The race has previously called to Ireland to the following ports; Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

What Irish sailors have raced The Solitaire du Figaro?

So far there have been seven Irish skippers to participate in La Solitaire du Figaro. 

In 1997, County Kerry's Damian Foxall first tackled the Figaro from Ireland. His win in the Rookie division in DHL gave him the budget to compete again the following year with Barlo Plastics where he won the final leg of the race from Gijon to Concarneau. That same year a second Irish sailor Marcus Hutchinson sailing Bergamotte completed the course in 26th place and third Rookie.

In 2000, Hutchinson of Howth Yacht Club completed the course again with IMPACT, again finishing in the twenties.

In 2006, Paul O’Riain became the third Irish skipper to complete the course.

In 2013, Royal Cork's David Kenefick raised the bar by becoming a top rookie sailor in the race. 

In 2018, for the first time, Ireland had two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who joined the rookie ranks and kept the Irish tricolour flying high in France. Mulloy became the first Irish female to take on the race.

Tom Dolan in Smurfit Kappa competed for his third year in 2020 after a 25th place finish in 2019. Dolan sailed a remarkably consistent series in 2020 and took fifth overall, the best finish by a non-French skipper since 1997 when Switzerland’s Dominique Wavre finished runner up. Dolan wins the VIVI Trophy.

Dolan finished 10th on the first stage, 11th on the second and seventh into Saint Nazaire at the end of the third stage. Stage four was abandoned due to lack of wind. 

Also in 2020, Dun Laoghaire’s Kenneth Rumball became the eleventh Irish sailor to sail the Figaro.

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Course

Stage #1 Caen – Kinsale : 610 nautical miles
Departure August 27 (expected arrival August 30)

Stage #2 Kinsale – Baie de Morlaix : 630 nautical miles
Departure September 3 (expected arrival September 6)

Stage #3 Baie de Morlaix – Piriac-sur-Mer : 620 nautical miles
Departure September 10 (expected arrival September 13)

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