It looks like a full fleet on October 1st and 2nd in Dun Laoghaire as the RoyaI Irish YC host a new end-of-season format J/109 Nationals 2016 for one of the most successful multi-pupose cruiser/racer classes in Ireland and on the Irish Sea writes W M Nixon.
Apart from providing excellent regular racing in Dublin Bay with a class which has been joined this year by elite helm Tim Goodbody with White Mishief, J/109s proved successful in both the ICRA Nats at Howth, and in Volvo Cork Week at Crosshaven. In Howth in June, the class winner in the Open Division in ICRA against all comers was John Maybury’s Joker 2 (RIYC) with the owner himself on the helm and former Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield of Cork in a key crewing role.
But when the scene of the action moved in July to Cork where Ian Nagle’s Jelly Baby usually sets much of the J/109 pace. Joker 2 took on board a different crew set-up. She was one of the boats volunteered for use in the much-praised new Beaufort Cup series within Volvo Cork Week 2016 for the Defence Forces and the Maritime Emergency Service. This attracted an entry of 25 diverse crews from all over Ireland, but here again Joker won in a mixed fleet, this time skippered by Commandant Brian Byrne of the Defence Forces, who was awarded an Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” title for July for his success.
The Beaufort Cup series included an offshore race round the Fastnet Rock, and some would argue that the J/109 is at her best in the offshore sport. In 2015 the Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth (National YC) was overall winner of the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race, with a sister-ship from Pwllheli in North Wales, Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s Mojito, second overall. And in this year’s keenly-fought ISORA Championship in the Irish Sea, the 2016 title was taken in the last race by another Pwllheli J/109, Stephen Tudor’s Sgreach, whose crew in traditional ISORA style includes offshore racing stalwart Peter Ryan of the National YC on Dublin Bay.
Another top J/109 offshore success this year was Dave Cullen’s (HYC) chartered Euro Car Parks (aka the Kelly family’ Storm from Rush SC) proving to be the only Irish Class Winner in the ferociously-competitive Volvo Round Ireland race 2016 from Wicklow, her crew including Mark Mansfield and Maurice “Prof” O’Connell. This inter-area and cross-channel mixing of talent is one of the vibrant J/109 class’s most attractive features, and it promises to be an invigorating part of the mix as the class assembles in strength in Dun Laoghaire this weekend.