J/24 UK Southern Areas Report

Thanks to Rob Clark for this report: Being a bank holiday weekend, we knew what to expect… wind and rain! We got them both, but not at the same time. The UK J/24 Fleet converged on Parkstone Yacht Club for the bank holiday weekend to contest the Southern Areas, however glancing around the boat park whilst final preparations were taking place, indications were that things had gone up a gear or two for most teams. Past event winners, Olympic Coaches, Youth, National, European and World Champions filled crew spots across the fleet and certainly left you feeling that, whichever team was to rise to the top, they would have been pushed all the way. As PRO David Lush and his race team readied the course, teams began to familiarize themselves with the conditions, knowing that with five races scheduled for day one and a forecast for a freshening breeze, some energy needed to be preserved. Genoas were deemed to be the smart choice, however this was to be a brief outing for the shiny sails. Soon, the jibs were deployed by race two, and teams settled in for a day when ‘the breeze’ became ‘the wind’ and ‘the wind’ became ‘strong’! Competition was fierce as always with the U-flag quickly replaced by the black one to encourage some semblance of order. Through this, two teams showed consistent pace and good decision making, and by the end of the day their counting scores each consisted of two firsts and two seconds—Duncan McCarthy’s MADELEINE and Nick Phillips’ CHAOTIC. There was, however, a glimmer of hope for the rest of the teams with both of these standouts holding a high score discard. Behind them, the scores were extremely close with many teams showing good pace and boat handling, but not having the ability to punch clear. By the time race five started, we had gusts well into the high 20s, and had seen high octane planing downwind legs, a few wipe-outs, a broken boom, a small altercation between two J/24s and the committee boat, and a growing collection of bumps and bruises, which are the J/24 sailors’ badges of honor! After an evening recovering in front of the America’s Cup, day two offered a much gentler face of Poole Bay. Teams headed out knowing that they would need to do something special to upset the top two, and only then if assisted by a capitulation or match race between Phillips and McCarthy allowing the rest of the fleet to sneak through. Unfortunately, for the hopeful this was not to be. And, despite Andy Taylor’s PHOENIX team (Paul Williams, Rob Clark, Zoe Dunne, Izzy Savage) posting a 1,1,2 for the day, they were only able to secure the bottom step of the podium. The silver medal went to MADELEINE (Steve Phelps, Charlie Fisher, Josh Irons and Hannah McCarthy), who presumably rued the keen eye of Saturday’s race team with their Black Flag. However, having compiled the scores it was clear the top step belonged to Nick Phillips and his CHAOTIC team (Jules Scott, Rachel Montgomery, Matt Hardy and Hugh Styles). With only one counting score outside the top two, their consistent pace and good decision-making made them worthy champions.

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