Monday, September 2, 2013

BMW J/24 Worlds Update

J/24s sailing Worlds in Howth, Ireland (Howth, Ireland)- The 2013 BMW J/24 World Championship is underway on the capricious waters off Howth, Ireland.  While not known for light airs ever, that's what the fleet of forty competitors from ten countries are currently experiencing.  The regatta was officially opened by the Mayor of Fingal Cllr. Kieran Dennison at a ceremony on Saturday evening attended by 200 sailors who were led by a piper on to the club forecourt in front of the podium.  Organising Committee Chairman Derek Bothwell introduced the speakers - John Ives (Managing Director, BMW Ireland), Berchmans Gannon (on behalf of ISA President Niamh McCutcheon) and the Mayor of Howth, before welcoming individually each skipper by name.

BMW J/24 Worlds presentationA practice race on the waters' between Lambay Island and Ireland's Eye in light northerly/north-westerly winds saw half the fleet fail to complete the course, as is customary, while former Irish Champion JP McCaldin from Lough Erne took line honours ahead of Japanese entry Koji Matsumoto and Ignacio Bonanno of Italy.

After the first days of racing, many of the favourites for the World title, including defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz (Brazil), are amongst the top of the leaderboard.  American crews led the way in both races on the first day.

After a two-hour delay for wind, the fleet finally got away for the first race in a light but testing easterly breeze. First blood went to Tony Parker and his BANGOR PACKET crew from Annapolis who experienced the Howth waters a week earlier at the Irish National Championship.  Fellow American Keith Whittemore from Seattle, who also sailed in the Irish event, followed him home in second place while Mauricio Santa Cruz from Brazil finished third, ahead of leading UK entry Ian Southworth.

American crews again led the way in the second race, with line honours going to former North American Champion Travis Odenbach from Rochester, with Whittemore second again and Santa Cruz taking another third spot. Newport’s Tim Healy took fifth to make it three US boats in the top five.

After the first day, Whittemore led the overall rankings by two points from the Brazilians, with Britain’s Ian Southworth (with a 4th and 7th) in third position. Leading Irish boat is ‘Stouche’ (Darrer/Murphy) from the host club, whose 10th and 8th place finishes have put them 7th overall.

Sadly, the second day of racing had to be uncharacteristically abandoned.  Lack of wind and strong tides played havoc on the sailors and the regatta's PRO David Lovegrove.  A 6-knot north-westerly breeze allowed the third race of the series to be started eventually but once the boats rounded the windward mark, the wind dropped away and a north-flowing flood tide meant the entire fleet was left motionless, with no chance of a finish.  After a delay of almost three hours, continued windless conditions forced abandonment for the day.

J/24 Worlds Chairman- Mr BothellDay Three dawned with a good breeze and heightened expectations by the sailors to go for two or more races.  After an awesome start to the day, PRO Lovegrove managed to squeeze in three solid races, resulting in significant, though not unexpected, wild swings in the overall standings as the fleet could not count a net score with a drop race.  Consistency pays and those practitioners of the art of exacting one-design tactics, starting and boat-speed are slowly being rewarded over the course of the regatta.  Not surprisingly, the roller coaster ride now sees the top five all within seven points after five races, including the toss race!  At this stage, the two most recent J/24 World Champions sit atop the standings-- leading is Mauricio Santa Cruz's Brazilian team on BRUSCHETTA with 11 pts net followed by Tim Healey's Newport, RI team on HELLY HANSEN in second two points back with 13 pts net.  Third is British skipper Ian Southworth on IL RICCIO sailing fast and smart despite a third race Black Flag to score 15 pts net with a 3-1 in the last two races.  Fourth is Travis Odenbach's HONEY BADGER from Rochester, NY with 17 pts net and in fifth was first day regatta leader Keith Whittemore and crew from Corinthian YC Seattle with 18 pts net!  Close?  Indeed, a tactician's nightmare.  More fun & games in the coming days.

Of note is the excellent performance from the leading Italian team, Ignacio Bonnano's LA SUPERBA team in sixth and the two German teams, ROTOMAN and JJ-ONE in 8th and 9th.  Plus, septuagenerian Tony Parker is, again, showing up the "Energizer Bunny", showing the four decades of J/24 sailing means you only got more experience to show "the kids"-- starting with a 1st in the first race and hanging tough in the top 10 at 10th overall.  Just two more days to go!    Watch the J/24 Worlds sailing video introduction
Sailing photos by David Branigan - Oceansport Gallery    For more J/24 World Championship sailing information.