J/24 National Championships

Day 1

Mc CALDIN DEFENDING HIS TITLE IN STYLE

After indifferent form in previous regional championships, Mickey McCaldin of Lough Erne YC did not arrive in Howth as the favourite to retain the Irish title he won last year but after the first five races of the eight race series, he and his experienced crew on ‘Murder Picture’ have made it clear that they intend to hold on to the trophy.

His championship defence couldn’t have started any better, with three successive bullets. The fourth race was something of a disaster for them finishing 14th but 5th in the final race of the first day sees them two points clear of their major rival for the honours, Flor O’Driscoll (RSt.GYC) on ‘Hard on Port’ who notched up three third places and a win the final race to stay very much in touch with the defending champion.

Local hopes centre on ‘Jibberish’ (O’Kelly & Co) and they did not disappoint. Having only taken delivery of the boat two days ago after repairs to serious damage suffered months ago in a T-bone collision, they might be excused for not performing, as they got re-acquainted with their boat. A results card that included two second places and the most impressive race win of the day – the margin of victory was very impressive – puts the Howth crew in third place overall going into the second day.

Tying on points but ranked as 4th is J/24 Class President Robin Eagleson of Lough Erne YC on ‘Luder Too’ who also showed great consistency with three second places and might have ended the day even higher up the leader-board if it wasn’t for a disastrous last race when the tides played havoc with the distinctively red boat at the windward mark.

Two other northern boats – JP McCaldin’s ‘Jamais Encore’ (Dalgety Bay SC) and ‘Sayonara’ (D.O’Donovan, LEYC) – fill the next two places overall.

The five windward-leeward races were sailed in varying (although generally fresh) conditions, with headsail changes the order of the day, while the last race threw up gusts of 30 knots plus at the 17-boat fleet. The series concludes on Sunday 12th with three races scheduled by PRO David Lovegrove and his team on ‘Free Enterprise’.

J/24 National Championship – overall places after 5 races:

  1. Mickey McCaldin – LEYC – 8 points
  2. Flor O’Driscoll – RStGYC – 10 points
  3. Fergus O’Kelly & Co. – HYC – 14 points
  4. Robin Eagleson – LEYC – 14 points
  5. J.P. McCaldin (DBSC) – 20 points
  6. D.O’Donovan – LEYC – 20 points

Day 2

MASTERCLASS BY O’DRISCOLL EARNS IRISH J/24 TITLE

An exhibition of how to win sailing races on the second day of the Irish J/24 Championships saw Flor O’Driscoll and his crew from the Royal St.George YC on ‘Hard on Port’ deservedly win the national title by the impressive margin of 19 points at Howth Yacht Club near Dublin, venue for the 2011 J/24 European Championships.

Three bullets on day two, including one which required coming from behind to outfox former champion Stefan Hyde by the final leeward mark, was sufficient to give the pre-event favourite the championship. O’Driscoll’s cause was certainly helped when overnight leader and defending champion Mickey McCaldin on ‘Murder Picture’ (LEYC) was one of five boats ‘black-flagged’ on the first race start after PRO David Lovegrove imposed the penalty following a couple of general recalls.

That effectively ended the Ulster crew’s challenge and it was followed by two other poor results which ultimately dropped them to 6th overall. The black flag decision also had a significant impact on other overall results, with another Lough Erne entry, Diarmuid O’Donovan’s ‘Sayonara’ jumping four places to earn the runners-up spot, thanks to two second places and an 8th. It was enough to edge past clubmate and J/24 Class President Robin Eagleson who wasn’t as effective as on the first day but did more enough to justify 3rd overall and also first in the silver fleet for the older boats.

Howth’s ‘Jibberish’ (Fergus O’Kelly et al) was more than pleased with 4th overall, just one point away from a podium finish, an encouraging performance considering the crew did not have the benefit of a full season’s practice as a result of serious collision damage back in June. One point further back was Andrew Mannion’s ‘Jeb Stuart’, with three top six places on the second day lifting the Lough Ree boat two places in the overall standings.

That four points separated second from fifth places overall indicates the closeness of one-design racing while Gordon Davies on the Jury Boat was kept busy over the two days maintaining rule observation on the water. The full 8-race schedule was completed, generally in fresh westerlies, with the race management team complemented on their performance over both days, when strong tides were a significant factor.

The 17-boat fleet, one of the biggest J/24 fleets in recent years, augurs well for the J/24 Europeans at Howth next year, with around eight nations already confirming their intention to compete.

J/24 National Championship – final results after 8 races:

  1. Hard on Port – Flor O’Driscoll (RStGYC) 13 points
  2. Sayonara – Diarmuid O’Donovan (LEYC) 32 points
  3. Luder Too – Robin Eagleson (LEYC) 34 points
  4. Jibberish – Fergus O’Kelly (HYC) 35 points
  5. Jeb Stuart – Andrew Mannion 36 points
  6. Murder Picture – Mickey McCaldin (LEYC) 44 points

Photos from the event are available on the Fotosail website or by

clicking on this link:  J24 Nationals

For full results see the Fixtures & Results section of the website,  or click on this link:   Results

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