The J/24 Eastern Championships took place last weekend at Howth Yacht Club writes Elaine O'Mahoney. The two-day event was run in conjunction with the Squib Easterns which made for a very busy lifting schedule for the cranes at HYC with thirty-five boats between both fleets.
The weekend brought challenging weather conditions for OOD Derek Bothwell and his team and wind shifts of 20 to 40 degrees were commonplace throughout day one keeping the race team very busy. While the seventeen J/24s taking part were racing windward-leeward courses the OOD was also laying a trapezoid course for the Squib fleet with a rolling start, Squibs followed by J24s.
After a brief delay waiting for the wind to settle race one got off in just over 10kts westerly breeze. Mark Usher on Jumpin Jive IRL3060 took the early lead which he held all the way to the finish and left the battle for places to the remainder of the fleet behind him. The changes in wind direction meant there was a considerable delay before the next race. When race two eventually got underway the J24 fleet had the benefit of seeing the strengthening tide push the Squib fleet over the line for two general recalls and were on their best behaviour to get a clear start first time. In race two and three, Fergus Kelliher’s Jibe IRL4252 from Tralee Bay Sailing Club and JP McCaldin’s IRL5219 El Rico from Lough Erne Yacht Club traded the first two places. After seven hours on the water, the fleet was happy to head for home and a well-earned dinner in Howth Yacht Club.
Sunday brought sunshine and more settled wind direction from the south but this time the challenge was wind strength. Race four started in a steady 6-knots but was shortened on the second beat as winds lessened. Simon McGibney’s Gala Racing IRL5278 took first place. Thankfully wind, as forecast, increased to 8 to 10 knots as the morning progressed enabling the OOD to complete two more races. Steve Atkinson’s Bád IRL4628 from Carrickfergus Sailing Club won race five. The final result for the overall winner came down to the final race between JP McCaldin’s El Rico and Fergus Kelliher’s Jibe. While Headcase IRL4247, helmed by Killian Dickson, won their first race of the event, Jibe’s third place finish ahead of El Rico’s sixth was enough for them to take their first regional championship win in the Gold Fleet.
This was a hugely competitive event with no boat dominating the series and six different winners in each of the six races. All participants complemented Howth Yacht Club for hosting a fantastic event and in particular the crane operators for their efficiency and the OOD Derek Bothwell for completing all six scheduled races in extremely challenging conditions.
The next event in the J/24 calendar is the J/24 National Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club from the 23rd to the 25th August. The fleet are pushing for thirty boats to take part. Any boats needing crew or logistics to do with the event are encouraged to contact Lough Erne Yacht Club or the J/24 Association who will assist in any way they can.
1st Jibe Fergus Kelliher Tralee Bay Sailing Club
2nd El Rico JP McCaldin Lough Erne Yacht Club
3rd Headcase O’Byrne, Ryan & Others Howth Yacht Club/Lough Ree Yacht Club/Mayo Sailing Club
1st Gala Racing Simon McGibney Foynes Yacht Club
2nd Jana Colm O’Flaherty Sligo Yacht Club
3rd Gossip Brian Rafferty Sligo Yacht Club
Full results here