The stranglehold that Flor O'Driscoll and his crew on 'Hard on Port' from the Royal St.George Yacht Club seem to have on the Irish J/24 Class was maintained with yet another win, this time the Northern Championships hosted by Lough Erne Yacht Club on August 7th/8th, writes Graham Smith.
After a slow start, with a 4th and 6th in the first two races, the Dun Laoghaire boat showed her transom to the other 11 boats in the fleet over the remaining four races in varied wind conditions. The result was an emphatic win by ten points from the runner-up, J.P.McCaldin of the host club sailing 'Jamais Encore'.
Class President Robin Eagleson sailed so consistently on his veteran 'Luder Too' that he tied on points with 'Jamais Encore' and only lost out on a countback, an impressive result considering a 30-year gap in the boats' ages. Third overall and winning the Silver Fleet award for the older J/24s was just reward for an outstanding series.
Current National Champion Mickey McCaldin ('Murder Picture') was consistently in the top six but never really got going and had to settle for 4th overall while the same could be said of Brian McDowell's 'Scandal' from Malahide in 5th place. 'Javlin' (Stan Bradbury from Lough Ree YC) started the event with a bang, recording a 1st and 2nd in the opening races, but two OCSs later on put paid to their chances.
Having already won the Western Championships at Lough Ree in mid-June and an impressive 2nd overall in Class 3 at the ICRA Nationals on Dublin Bay, Flor O'Driscoll and his crew are looking the outstanding favourites to add the national title to their year's tally.
The 2-day event takes place on September 11th/12th at Howth Yacht Club, venue for the J/24 European Championships next year. It will provide J/24 sailors, especially those from the inland lake clubs, to familiarise themselves with the tidal Howth waters before the big event in 2011.