27 May 2016
A strong performance by Howth’s Under 25 keelboat team delivered victory in the J24 Northern Championship at Sligo Yacht Club last weekend. Counting all race wins or second-places, the Dublin crew won with a race to spare.
With sponsorship from Martin Reilly Motors, the Mespil Hotel and MalinWaters a fleet of 19 boats from all corners of Ireland competed for the six race series.
The event enjoyed a full range of conditions from near calm to fresh and gusty with the unwary likely to fall victim to broaches in the stronger gusts. At the opposite extreme, principal race officer Derek Bothwell battled light winds at times that made setting the course a particular challenge.
Despite the mastery of the overall winners, there was also close racing in the runner-up stakes where JP McCaldrin edged out Flor O’Driscoll into third overall by a single point.
The J24 class association had coach Graeme Grant on hand throughout the event to provide feedback and tips between races that added to crews’ knowledge base while the evening video briefings were a popular highlight of the social programme.
With the bulk of the fleet drawn from outside Sligo, a crane-in operation was set-up beside the marina in the town that speedily launched and recovered the boats.
“We put the call out far and wide to J24 crews around Ireland who responded with enthusiasm,” said organising chairman Martin Reilly. “We had great weather, a large and competitive fleet and warm camaraderie ashore after racing.”
Plans are already in the pipeline to persuade the class to hold the 2017 national championships in Sligo when more boats including several from outside Ireland can be expected.
J24 Northern Championships (final overall after six races)
1 Ireland’s Eye - Kilcullen (HYC U25)
2 Jamais Encore (JP McCaldrin)
3 Hard on Port (Flor O'Driscoll)
4 www.hamiltonbear.ie (Stefan Hyde)
5 Bad (Steve Atkinson)
6 Crazy Horse (M Reilly)