Mark Usher of Greystones Sailing Club is Ireland’s new 2018 Northern J/24 Champion helming Jumpin Jive in a six-race championship on Lough Erne in boisterous very windy conditions on 29 & 30 September. This top crew counted three firsts and two seconds in their nett final score (7). A month previous, the Jumpin Jive team had emerged second among the three Irish boats in the 2018 World J/24 Championship – a record 89 strong World J/24 fleet on Lake Garda, Italy.
Lough Erne YC hosted this event as part of bicentenary celebrations, 1818-2018. Boats and helms came from ten clubs, Greystones, Foynes, Kilrush, Bray, Carrickfergus, Erne, Sligo, Lough Ree, Lough Swilly and Mullaghmore SC (Bronagh Carvill, only woman helm in LEYC boat Jeriatrix).
Sponsors were Waterways Ireland and Modern Tyres. There was much praise for event committee chair and organiser, LEYC Fleet Captain June Clarke, unanimously elected also to the Committee of the J/24 Association of Ireland at Friday evening’s AGM. The fleet was bisected, Gold fleet, modern J/24s and six Silver fleet, all old Westerly boats built about 1980.
Second Gold and overall, Simon McGibney’s Gala Racing, road-towed north from Kilrush, counted a first and second in nett 15 points. Third, the fleet’s senior sailor, Flor O’Driscoll, from Bray, counted only a first in his nett 15 equal points. Fourth, from Carrickfergus, Steve Atkinson’s Bád had best place a second in nett 21. Fifth Gold and best home club LEYC boat, Diarmuid O’Donovan counted two fourths in nett 24 points. Mark McCormack’s Stouche, best of three Irish in Italy’s World event emerged sixth on Lough Erne – wild and windier than Lake Garda! Ninth Gold was Tim Rippey’s Jigalo, LEYC, best a fifth place. This excellent J/24 was twice borrowed to win in a World Championship, but seriously lacked crew weight this very windy weekend.
Luke McBride, Lough Swilly, helming Bandit, clearly topped the Silver fleet. Bandit is also top scoring boat in the 2018 LEYC Autumn Sunday series. Ken Draper, Sligo in Jevan was second Silver and Barry Humphreys, LEYC, third Silver in TJ. Bronagh Carvill, building J/24 helming experience, did very well in 1979 vintage Jeriatrix with a very light crew for the conditions.
LEYC’s third successful Autumn Sunday J/24 series, four races each afternoon then a BBQ, had attracted a dozen J/24s, local and visiting. Scoring includes the six Championship races, 22 in all, including the two final Sundays, 7 & 14 October. Down in Kilrush, a similar October endeavour is planned for six J/24s. Local J/24 events like these have happened all round the world near 40 years past - J24s still being the world’s most popular and widespread keelboat class.