Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Healy Crowned BMW J/24 World Champion

J/24 world champion- Tim Healy- Helly Hansen sailing team (Howth, Ireland)- "It's usually not like this here", was the familiar refrain heard from the local J/24 sailors from Howth Yacht Club.  After a reasonably windy J/24 Irish Nationals, the forty teams attending the J/24 Worlds were looking forward to battles on the windy, storm-tossed Irish Sea-- at least that was the promise from the Mayor of Howth and the local Chamber of Commerce!  However, an unusual front passed over Ireland for the first few days, producing somewhat capricious, light airs for the first few days of the event, even forcing cancellation of sailing on the Tuesday due to lack of wind (and later a notorious Irish pub crawl for those with too much time on their hands)!  With the exception of the one day, the  championship featured four good days of racing, with the wind strength progressively increasing as the week went on-- in fact hitting 20-25 kts on the last day.

The racing was very closely fought, especially by the top three teams.  There were six different race winners and the four American entries all finished in the top ten, which featured two British boats, two German boats and the sole Italian and Brazilian entries.

Tim Healy, John Mollicone, and Newport J/24 sailing crew win Worlds!In a tense and closely fought final day any one of the top three teams could win the regatta, with all three of them trading positions atop the leaderboard during the previous three days.  Going into the last day, Travis Odenbach's HONEY BADGER was winning, followed by Mauricio Santa Cruz's BRUSCHETTA in second and Tim Healy's HELLY HANSEN in third.  On the final two races in fairly big breeze, Healy's HELLY HANSEN scored a 4-5 to become the impressive winners of the BMW J/24 World Championship-- they had eight top-five results (including three race wins) in the ten race series.

Healy, who previously won the title in 2010, was pushed all the way by the defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz from Brazil on BRUSCHETTA, who also demonstrated remarkable consistency, but who had to be content with the runner-up spot, four points adrift of his rival.  BRUSCHETTA's final day tally of 9-3 was not enough to pull off a record-tying fifth J/24 World title to match the famous Ken Read from Newport, RI (now President of North Sails).

Third place overall went to another American crew led by Travis Odenbach from Rochester on HONEY BADGER who had been the series leader overnight but who did not enjoy the final day. A 20-8 score completely blew-up their chances of winning the regatta, although he was only two points off Brazil's Santa Cruz in the end.

Top J/24 Teams- Ian Southworth and Tim Healy dueling at J/24 WorldsIn fresh westerly winds which touched 25 knots at times, the penultimate race saw a second win in the series for Britain’s Ian Southworth on IL RICIO, ahead of fellow Briton Bob Turner’s SERCO. Third place went to local Howth skipper Mossy Shanahan on CRAZY HORSE, following up on his great form the previous day, a result which contributed to him finishing as the top Irish boat overall in 19th place.  Success in the last race went to the German boat ROTOMAN skippered by Tobias Feuerherd, with Keith Whittemore sailing FURIO from Seattle 2nd and Santa Cruz 3rd.

Rounding out the top ten was England's Ian Southworth in fourth followed by Germany's ROTOMAN in fifth-- for both sailors their best J/24 World's regatta performance to date.  After leading the first day, Seattle's Keith Whittemore sailed FURIO fast and furiously, but not enough to overcome a third race "black flag" that knocked them out of contention, settling for sixth overall.  British skipper Bob Turner sailed Team SERCO fast and smart at times, managing scores of 1-2-2-4, but five higher double-digit scores moved them down the ladder into seventh overall.  Posting five top ten finishes was Italy's Ignacio Bonanno sailing LA SUPERBA (also J/24 Italian Nationals champions) to place eight overall.  Top Washington, DC political strategist and, arguably, the "wiseman cometh" of the J/24 "tribe", Tony Parker, sailed his famous BANGOR PACKET team to a first place in the first race to put their stamp on this year's Worlds-- cool, eh?!  Tony has only sailed a J/24 since 1977, since back in his Falmouth Foreside/ Portland, Maine days-- almost four decades!  Nevertheless, after winning the World Championships for a few hours, Parker's crew may have been blinded by ambition, scoring a few double-digit races but still celebrating their time in the limelight with five top ten finishes-- good enough for ninth overall.  In tenth was the other top German team, SULLBERG skippered by Stefan Karsunke from the Blankeneser Segel Club.   Sailing photo credits- by David Branigan - Oceansport Gallery   For more J/24 World Championship sailing information