A record turnout with 67 boats, 11 nations and a top-level playing field sums up the 2013 J/24 European Championship (October 6-12) hosted for the second time by the Yacht Club de Monaco, 20 years after it organized the first edition, with the invaluable support of Stuart Jardine, a legend on the sailing scene in England and the J/24 Class. An international Race Committee presided by Englishman John Coveney fired the gun on eight hard-fought races over the four days, in east to south-westerly wind conditions ranging from 5 to 30 knots. It was a tactical as well as physically challenging championship for the 335 sailors, who had to cope with varied conditions, complicated by the Ligurian current, not counting practice races and a succession of starts. Faced with a compact fleet it was difficult to leave the pack of 67 J/24s rounding the mark and one had to fight for a place on the starting line to be sure of clean wind. With courses averaging five nautical miles and taking less than an hour, the competition was intense, with less than 10 minutes separating the first from the last in each race. The slightest error proved costly, as it did for North American champion Michael Ingham (Julia), still in with a podium finish after the second day who then found himself 17th in the overall ranking after a premature start in the eighth race. Another favorite, the Greek Dimitris Altsiadis (Evniki), winner of the Primo Cup in 2013, who with two wins clinched 5th place behind the Italian Ignacio Bonanno (La Superba). Of note was the German armada, there in force with 20 J/24s but only able to get their best boat into 10th position behind the Monegasque Topo Too crewed by Blandine Medecin and the Rodelato brothers. In the end, it was Englishman Ian Southworth, triple European Champion, who lifted his fourth title with Chris MacLaughlin (Il Riccio). Despite not winning a race, they were impressively consistent and always in the top six. Second place went to another favorite, quadruple world champion Mauricio Santacruz (Bruschetta), second in the last World Championship held in Ireland in August 2013. Surprised by the level and high quality of the playing field, he won one race in style, leading from start to finish and widening the gap to put him well ahead of his competitors in the fifth race. But the title of European vice-champion did not go to the Brazilian Mauricio Santacruz, but the Monegasque St Andrews, helmed by Ian Ilsley with François Brenac on tactics who pulled off a coup by coming third, just three points shy of the Brazilian. “This is the culmination of a year’s hard work. We made the trip to the World Championship in Ireland in August to prepare for this one and hone our boat. Our efforts have paid off and the contract is largely fulfilled, beyond our expectations as we had set our sights on finishing in the top ten,” comments Ian Ilsley, for whom the next meeting is the Primo Cup (31 Jan/2 Feb & 7/9 Feb 2014) then the North American Championship in Mexico in March 2014. For complete results, visithttp://www.j24ycm.org/images/results/final_ranking.pdf.
Final ranking (8 races, 7 counted)
1st Chris MacLaughlin (Il Riccio), GB – 23 points
2nd Mauricio Santacruz (Bruschetta), BRA – 49 points
3rd Ian Ilsley (St Andrews Securities), MON – 51 points
4th Ignacio Bonanno (La Superba), ITA – 66 points
5th Dimitris Altsiadis (Evniki), GRE – 78 points