Howth Yacht Club hosted the recent J/24 Irish Championship, an event which was both a warm-up for Irish competitors and a fine tune for the race management team, in advance of the BMW J/24 World Championship. With the top three determined by just one point, it’s indicative of how close the Class has become competitively amongst its top practitioners. Saturday morning saw the fleet held ashore for a few hours by PRO David Lovegrove due to high winds. Nobody wanted to risk serious damage a week out from the main event. The later start still allowed the 20 entrants from Ireland, Great Britain and USA to enjoy four races held in a variety of conditions. Sun, rain, squalls, flat calms, big shifts and a changing tide all created a very unusual mix for Howth. As one race official noted, “If you don’t like the weather, hang on for five minutes!” In spite of the weather challenges, GBR visitors Il Riccio (Italian for “The Hedgehog”) sailed by Ian Southworth dominated the first day and headed for the bar with a 1-2-1-1 score. Just behind them was fellow Brit Bob Turner on Serco with a 5-1-3-3 and Ireland’s Flor O’Driscoll sailing Hard On Port into third with a 3-5-5-10. The top Americans all had great scores, save for bad drop races, like Keith Whittemore’s Furio from Seattle, Washington and Tony Parker’s Bangor Packet from Georgetown, DC. Top of the Irish boats at that stage was Howth’s Mossy Shanahan who bagged a 2-10-4-7. The dividends were paid to those who played relatively conservatively and kept their noses clean. Lighter and less variable conditions treated the fleet to incredibly tight racing on Sunday with another four races banged off in quick time. By the end of Race 6, Il Riccio had sewn up the regatta, pocketing a further two wins, not needing to race in the last two. A clinical display of extraordinary seamanship and sailing! The fleet did its best to push the 3pm deadline for a last start by forcing a general recall in the penultimate race. Taking second for the regatta was Seattle’s Keith Whittemore on Furio, posting a 2-2-1.5-1- in the last four races to nearly pull off the ultimate upset sailing the last day, losing by just a 0.5 pts. Third was the UK’s Bob Turner on Serco just another 0.5 pts back! Rounding out the closely fought top five were Tony Parker’s Bangor Packet crew in fourth and the Brit’s Jiggy 2 led by Paul Williams in fifth. Irish National title winner was the HYC Under 25 crew sailing Euro Car Parks Kilcullen followed by Flor O’Driscoll’s team Hard On Port in second, and taking third Irish Nats on the podium was the Darrer/Murphy team on the old Stouche. For more Irish J/24 Nationals sailing information, click here.