While the official entry was thirty-one for the 2019 J24 Irish National Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club, twenty-eight made it to the first start line including five under 25 teams writes Elaine O'Mahoney.
The under 25 team from Royal Cork Yacht Club at their first J24 event were unfortunate to have broken a mast immediately after the start of the first race but thanks to the efforts of Lough Erne Yacht Club they are being loaned another boat to enable them to compete in day two. The 2019 AGM took place after racing and Brian McDowell from Howth Yacht Club stepped down as President.
The committee would like to thank Brian and also Martin O’Reilly and Sinéad Enright who are also stepping down this year, for all their hard work and commitment to the association over the past few years. We would also like to wish newly elected President Mark Usher from Greystones Sailing Club the very best of luck and to welcome Tadgh O’Loinsigh from Tralee Bay Sailing Club as the Under 25 representative on the new committee.
We asked three boats to give a summary of their first day of racing at the J/24 National Championships in Lough Erne Yacht Club.
Reports from the Fleet
The forecast 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” for Day 1.
The starts were hectic with twenty-eight boats fighting for front row positions, the fleet got away clean for three of the four races.
The upwind legs were a battle between finding flatter water and picking your way through the wind shifts across the broad Lough. There were gains to be made on both sides of race course and all through the fleet boats traded positions with only small margin making the difference of often multiple places.
The front half of the fleet was always still tightly packed as they approached the first windward mark, and with spinnakers hoisted and powerful gusts, the downwind legs in the first couple of races were fun and felt short.
The leeward gate created opportunities as the fleet split each time for a second lap.
By the time the warning signal for Race 3 was raised, the breeze showed signs of dropping a little and about half the fleet made the change to their larger head sail. On balance, those who stuck with Jib’s probably fared better during the next race and only by Race 4 had the wind moderated enough to make sailing with the J24’s big Genoa really manageable.
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 1. After four races completed and still no discard, the McCormacks Stouche from Foynes Yacht Club managed to stay just ahead of Flor O'Driscoll's team in Hard on Port. Behind them and still in the running to grab the National title are the local team of JP Caldin on Il Ricco and Headcase owned and sailed by the first graduates of the Howth YC J24 “Under 25” development programme.
Day 2 promises a little less wind but even more competition. - Brian Raftery - Gossip
Windier conditions today than expected gusting 25/26 kts easily. Some excellent close racing, testing the crew's boat handling and tactical skills. A great job from the race committee getting all four scheduled races in. Roll on day two. - Team Jumpin’ Jive
So glad to be out here in Enniskillen what a fantastic venue to compete in. Our teams first time racing here and it didn’t disappoint. While our results weren’t as good as we would have originally hoped we had a great day on the water all the same. OOD Derek Bothwell and his team set great courses which made for extremely competitive and nail-biting races for us all day long. We were met with testing conditions at the beginning of the day which gradually eased. It took us a while to get the boat going but we dusted off the cobwebs and eventually got into the groove. We are happy to say our results improved as the day progressed. Hopefully, our performance will continue to improve tomorrow and the day after. - Foynes Yacht Club Under 25 Team