As Afloat reported previously, the Irish J/24 National Championships were held at Lough Erne Yacht Club last weekend with five Under 25 teams from five different clubs throughout the country taking part. The Irish Cruiser Racing Association were delighted earlier this month to announce their continued sponsorship of Under 25 sailing in Ireland through a grant for every under 25 team taking part at this year’s J/24 National Champions and a grant for the overall ICRA under 25 J/24 National Champion.
"Five under-25 teams from five different clubs throughout the country took part"
Racing took place over three days in very mixed conditions. The forecast on day one 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”.
The starts were hectic with twenty-eight boats fighting for front row positions, the fleet got away clean for three of the four races. 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 one.
The Under 25 Team from Royal Cork Yacht Club helmed by Rebecca O’Shaughnessy, taking part in their first J/24 event, were unfortunately dismasted just after the start of Race One. Later that weekend former J/24 President, Michael Clarke from Lough Erne Yacht Club, while giving a talk on the 40 Year History of J/24’s in Ireland, commended the young Cork team for their excellent seamanship skills in recovering the mast and sailing ashore without assistance. Lough Erne Yacht Club are also to be complimented for making another J/24 available to the Cork team to ensure they got back out racing on day two.
Tadgh O’Loingsigh’s Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club took the early lead in the Under 25 fleet holding a position in the top ten at the end of the first day, ahead of Kilcullen from Howth Yacht Club, helmed by David Johnson and Jasper 2 from Foynes Yacht Club, helmed by Mary McCormack with Lady Caroline from Sligo Yacht Club, helmed by Rachel O’Dwyer, in fourth.
Completely contrasting conditions greeted the fleet on day two and only one race started and ended with only four boats finishing within the time limit before racing was abandoned for the day.
At last day three brought favourable sailing conditions with sunshine and a steady thirteen knots. OOD Derek Bothwell and his team used the U flag to help ensure races got off quickly and managed three races before the time limit expired.
The team on Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club sailed a superb series finishing in sixth place overall, their best finish a second place in the final race and taking the ICRA Under 25 J/24 National Champions title.
Janx Spirit have now qualified as the Irish Under 25 Team for the J/24 2020 Worlds taking place in Parkstone Yacht Club in Poole next year. At the J/24 Association Annual General Meeting, Tadgh O’Loingsigh was also voted onto the J/24 Association of Ireland Committee as the Under 25 representative. It is also worth noting that the overall winners on Headcase, from Howth Yacht Club, were part of the original Under 25 programme started back in 2013 by Brian McDowell, and went on to purchase their own boat after ‘graduating’ from the Under 25 programme.
The team on Janx Spirit are Tadhg O’Loingsigh, Hugh Stewart, Tadgh McSweeney, Brian Fox, Donnagh O’Buachalla