With something like 25 seriously-campaigned J/109s around Ireland and throughout the Irish Sea, obviously you wouldn’t expect every boat to be heading for this weekend’s Irish Open Nationals in Dun Laoghaire. But by any standards a crack fleet of 15 hard–sailed boats is good going for racing at this level, and it’s the best turnout that the growing class has yet seen for the Irish title, with 2017’s to be hosted by NYC writes W M Nixon.
The trouble with the J/109 is that it’s such a versatile boat that it sometimes takes a real effort to grasp that this comfortable cruiser-racer – you really can cruise a J/109 with considerable enjoyment – is also very much up for it in no-holds-barred One-Design racing. That said, the “no holds barred” suggestion is a bit muted by the fact that the class in Ireland have agreed that their annual championship will exclude Category 3 sailors, which means that full-time sailor and UK Sailmakers agent Mark Mansfield won’t be in his usual key role aboard John Maybury’s multiple winning J/109 Joker II.
But Big Mark thinks so highly of the class – after all, he was much involved with the Dave Cullen-chartered J/109 Euro Car Parks’ success in the Volvo Round Ireland 2016,
the only class win by an Irish entrant – that he has persuaded the Maybury team to give it a lash anyway.
By doing so they’ve brought the numbers up to 15 with a fleet which still manages to be top notch despite the absence of ISORA Champion Mojito from Pwllheli (a family wedding, we’re told) and the Irish National Sailing School’s Jedi (currently for sale on Afloat.ie boats for sale here – Ed)
But defending champions Storm with Pat Kelly and his family from Fingal will be very much there, and they always seem to pull something extra out of the hat for this particular series.
The Clan Goodbody with White Mishchief are also consistently in the frame, and two of this year’s newcomers – Andrew Algeo with Juggerknot from RIYC, and Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles with Indian from Howth – are just itching to show what they can do in a national championship context, free of other distractions.
The class are keen to encourage newcomers, particularly now that they’re on a real roll after so much inshore and offshore success during 2017. They keep close track on used boats for sale within easy distance, and if anyone is in the slightest bit interested in the whole J/109 thing, there are plenty of skippers ready to take you for a trial spin in this remarkably timeless boat – she’s a modern classic.
Further info from Class Captain David Stewart at 087 253 8893, email [email protected]