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J/Boat Festival at Howth this Weekend

4th April 2018
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Race ready. Howth YC’s flotilla of J/80s will be in action this weekend to select the Irish crew for the Student Yachting Worlds 2018 Race ready. Howth YC’s flotilla of J/80s will be in action this weekend to select the Irish crew for the Student Yachting Worlds 2018

It will be J Boats every which way at Howth this weekend with events of national standing for both the J/24s and Howth YC’s training flotilla of J/80s writes W M Nixon.

Once again the J/80s are being utilised to select the Irish college crew for the Student Yachting Worlds 2018. These aren’t being held in France until the Autumn, but the realities of university scheduling and the timing of exams means the national selection trials have to be held in April.

Last year, University College Dublin - captained by Will Byrne – were winners. But with 24 university crews entered for this important selection, 2018’s victors may come from further afield.

Once again the J/80s are being utilised to select the Irish college crew for the Student Yachting Worlds 2018

University College Cork are on a roll after winning the Intervarsity Team Championship raced in dinghies at Kilrush last month. But the Howth event tests a different set of skills with keelboat emphasis, although experience with J/80s indicates that a good dinghy sailing technique transfers well to these popular sportsboats.

NUI Galway – one of the hosts at Kilrush last month – is making a particularly determined pitch for the title, with two crews travelling across country to Howth. NUIG Captain Aaron O’Reilly is at the centre of a longterm project to send an experienced university crew in the 2020 Volvo Round Ireland race, which in turn will be linked in with Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture, and the Galway sailing challenge was formally launched this week.

The NUIG challenge is receiving widespread support, and the reception in Galway Docks Marina, hosted by Harbour Master Captain Brian Sheridan to wish the NUIG teams well, was attended by representatives of Galway Ocean Sports Club, City of Galway S, Galway Bay SC, the Port Sea Scouts, and West Sails.

galway docks reception2Good luck to NUIG. Galway Harbour Master Captain Brian Sheridan launches the two year campaign towards having a Galway University crew in the 2020 Volvo Round Ireland Race, with the programme starting at this weekend’s Student Selection Trials at Howth. Photo: Pierce Purcell

Fortunately Howth YC have two Committee Boats, as the club will also be hosting the J/24 Easterns, and two completely separate course areas have to be provided to keep the J/80s and the J/24s apart.

The host club is proving to be a happy hunting ground for bringing J/24s back to life, but there are strong levels of interest at Foynes and on Lough Erne as well. The J/24s are the very first J/Boats of all – they go back to 1977 – but they’re proving to be an enduring species at national level. In 2017, the national champion was J P McCaldin of Lough Erne YC, while in 2016 the title was taken by Howth YC’s U25 squad with Ireland’s Eye Kilcullen.

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