Last October there were 15 boats at the Irish J109 National Championships, a very impressive turnout for a 35–foot Cruiser Racer. What's more 109s have won ISORA overall in the last three seasons and filled the first four places last year and the ICRA Championships for the last three years. Afloat.ie asked newly elected class captain, Andrew Craig, a veteran of the International Dragon circuit, what he puts this success down to.
The J109 class now has more boats racing than ever and it is continuing to grow. We are developing a community and collegiate spirit in the class. The 109 is a great all round performer in virtually all conditions and points of sailing and it is durable and easily handled which is critical and we are distinctive in having mixed crews of all ages with different ability with great racing throughout the fleet whether we are racing in cruiser classes or under our one design rules. The largest fleet is in Dun Laoghaire with 13 while there are boats based in Howth, Poolbeg, Crosshaven and Kinsale. We also work closely with the Welsh boats.
Andrew feels that the 109 is one of the best 35 foot cruiser racers ever designed and is particularly suited to sailing in Irish and UK waters. It is a very well built boat with a good resale value, a fast cruiser, well appointed and laid out below with full standing headroom and at the same time it is the most competitive 35 footer under IRC across the range. The results prove the point, 109s have won ISORA overall in the last 3 seasons and filled the first 4 places last year, the ICRAs for the last 3 years, and also in 2017 a class win in the Scottish series in Tarbert, overall win in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as well as podium places in the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race, Sovereigns Regatta and Calves Regatta.
The local racing is terrific and in Dublin Bay, the J109s have the best of all worlds racing under 3 systems ECHO, IRC and Scratch which means there is competition amongst the whole fleet.
Andrew also makes the point that while the class has some very strong teams prize winners are well spread out across the fleet. In the travelling events a number of different boats featured while in Dublin Bay 5 different 109s won trophies in the DBSC Class 1 Series and in the Class series run within the DBSC results 6 different boats won trophies.
J109s Commited to DBSC Cruiser One
We are often asked whether we should have our own class in Dublin Bay however we are fully committed to supporting the Cruiser 1 Class under the DBSC flag. We strongly believe that this is in the best interests of both DBSC and our class. However given the size of our fleet some regattas are now offering additional prizes for the J109 fleet within the Class 1 results. We have our own National Championship under class rules and this year, for the first time, we will hold an East Coast Championship and the date has been carefully chosen to be between two ISORA races to allow maximum participation by the Welsh boats.
J109 Nationals For Howth Yacht Club
Our Nationals will be held in Howth Yacht Club to acknowledge new members based there and also to recognise that the Kelly family in Storm, who are based in Howth, have been huge supporters of the class over the last 10 years and, of course, they are National Champions for the last two years. The rest of the fleet looks forward to beating them in 2018 in their home waters!
A strong collegiate spirit has developed with lots of sharing of ideas not only on how to race faster but also on how to move forward on a collective basis. Andrew said he was very impressed that virtually every Irish J109 was represented at the recent AGM and there were very good discussions on a wide range of topics including development plans, events, social activity, training weekends, video de-briefings after racing, identity building, class rules, managing the overall cost of sailing and there is great commitment to continued development of the class.
Take your Granddaughter for a Potter on a J109
Afloat.ie asked Andrew, after competing all over the world in the Dragon at the highest level, why did he chose the J109?
Andrew said that he joined the class for all the reasons discussed during our conversation, however if he was to summarise he would say he wanted a boat that he could sail and race with his wife, sons and friends and the boat had to be competitive and provide good racing locally with the opportunity to travel to away events and that he could take his granddaughter out safely for a potter in Dublin Bay. In addition he got a fast well built and fully appointed cruising boat into the bargain.