(Angelholm, Sweden)- This past weekend, a fleet of thirty-five J/24s assembled in the beautiful little seaside resort of Angelholm, Sweden to compete for the J/24 European Championship. Conditions ranged widely from gales and thunderstorms to gorgeous sunny days with moderate winds. Topping the standings was the American team of Mike Ingham, comfortably winning the regatta by 30 points over the next boat- as a result the winner of the “Open Europeans”. The top European boat was Germany’s Frank Schonfeldt from the Muhlenberger Segel-Club sailing HENK.
The first day of racing started out with a postponement due to gale force winds and lightning. But, once the first warning signal sounded the three races scheduled for the day were carried out without further delays. As a result, the strong breezes persisted for most of the day and it forced many crews to choose between the 150% genoa or the 100% jib; crews were often madly running around on deck just before the start hoping for a last-minute advantage (hanks aren’t that easy to swap out!).
The first race was won by Mike Ingham’s USA 5443 (USA), followed by Manfred Konig’s VITESSE (GER) and Frank Schonfeldt’s HENK (GER). The second race was won by HENK, followed by VITESSE and QUICK & DIRTY. Then, the third race of the day saw a different combination, it was won by Chris McLaughlin’s IL RICCIO (last year’s 2013 Europeans winner in Monaco from GBR), followed by Ingham's USA 5443 and Tobias Feuerherdt’s TEAM ROTOMAN (GER). The results after the first day showed that German teams were in 1st and 3rd (Konig’s VITESSE and Schonfeldt’s HENK, respectively) and in 2nd was McLaughlin’s IL RICCIO.
Race day two offered strong breeze but no rain and the event was able to complete four races. The crews were clearly exhausted after that long workout! Race winners were: R4– VITESSE; R5– TEAM ROTOMAN, R6– USA 5443; and R7– Till Pomarius’ TINTO from Germany. After the second day of racing, Ingham’s USA 5443 surged into the overall regatta lead due to their finishes of 5-3-1-6, followed by VITESSE and TEAM ROTOMAN. At this point, McLaughlin’s IL RICCIO had accumulated two scoring penalties in race 2 & 4, took a DNF in race 5, then unfortunately DNS’d the rest of the series.
The third day dawned just as nice as the day before, great winds of 12-20 kts with lots of sun and two more races that started on-time at 11am. In addition to the usual suspects who occupied most of the top three spots, new faces included Johann Huhn’s HUNGRIGER WOLF from Germany taking a 3rd in R8 and Peer Kock’s German team on UK GISCHT & GLUT taking a third in R9. At this point, Ingham’s 1-2 score for the day simply drove them further ahead of the rest of the pack.
Amazingly, the last race day offered more of the same weather! Imagine that?! With great winds and sunny skies, the sailors could not have been happier, plus the beaches were packed with lots of beautiful Swedes vacationing immediately in front of the harbor entrance. Two more races were scheduled and were carried out without delays. The day’s winners saw a number of new faces in the crowd. In R10, Matthias Garzman’s GUNNI (GER) won, followed by Per-Hakan Persson's FRONT RUNNER (the top Swedish boat) and Jan Kahler’s UNITED 5 (GER). In the last race R11, UNITED 5 took the bullet followed by USA 5443 and HENK.
In the end, Mike Ingham’s American crew were crowned the overall Open J/24 European’s winners. The top European and the next three positions were dominated by German teams; Schonfeldt’s HENK crew in 2nd, Konig’s VITESSE in 3rd and Kock’s UK GISCHT & GLUT 4th. Fifth was the top Swedish boat, Persson’s FRONT RUNNER from the Malmo Sailing Club.
Top prize for best Women’s crew went to VEGA RAGAZZA– Stephanie Koepcke and her lovely crew from Germany’s Muhlenberger Segel-Club- she finished 10th in a highly competitive J/24 fleet!
Top award for best Youth Team went to LUV– Tom Stryi and crew from Germany.
Stewart and Mary-Anne Jardine’s “Old Boat Trophy” for inspiration to the J/24 class went to the Swedish all-women crew of FOR FUN (BLUE)– Liselotte Sjöberg and crew.
And last, but certainly not least, a special award was given to the Youngest Crew member of the Europeans– Nils (12 years old) who showed great courage and fighting spirit together with his crew on HOLLENHUND RELOADED, skippered by Martin Maschnitza from Kieler YC. Sailing photo credits- Helene Ohsbeck For more European J/24 Championship sailing information