Kilcullen Irelands Eye J/24 Westerns Champion
August 15, 2016
Ten boats and 50 competitors turned out for the two-day event sailed on the lake of Lough Ree. Boats came from Howth, Dun Laoghaire, Sligo and Lough Derg in Tipperary; all travelled to Lough Ree Yacht Club (LRYC http://www.lryc.ie/)–the world’s second oldest yacht club. The onsite crane lifted all 10 boats into the lake on Friday evening in perfect summer conditions. As the crews set about rigging their craft, the Club staff fired up the BBQ and the scene was set for a very sociable event. As light faded, the crews made their way up to the Club House and settled in to renew old acquaintances and to discuss the challenges of the next two days on the lake. There was a 9am briefing the following morning. Once the briefing ended, the Race Committee and mark boats set off for the race area that was located north of Athlone, opposite The Hodson Bay Hotel. Six races were scheduled with four to be held on Saturday and the final two on Sunday. Lough Ree is the perfect location for an event like this. The J/24 fleet experienced winds in excess of 30 knots on Sunday morning and were still able to race. If this wind strength was experienced on the open sea, there was a good chance that the race would have been abandoned. The four races on Saturday were held in very blustery conditions; southerly winds reached speeds of 22 knots with gusts of 26 knots. Principal Race Officer Vincent Rafter and his team worked hard to fit in four races on Saturday, conscious that the conditions might deteriorate to a point where racing might be abandoned on Sunday. A J/24 Class dinner followed the racing on Saturday for all competitors and the race committee. The diners were entertained by the classical Duet of Ellen Gogly on cello and Eva Barry on violin. Their mix of Classical and traditional music soothed the frayed nerves of some very fatigued sailors. Of the two races planned for Sunday, only one could be held due to deteriorating conditions. Gusts of 35 knots were being recorded, and this wind strength can cause structural damage to the boats and potentially injure crew. There was one stand-out performance. The team on board KILCULLEN IRELANDS EYE, helmed by Cillian Dickson, scored five first places and finished on an impressive 4 points net (including one discard). A local Lough Ree YC team on board JAVELIN led by Stan Bradbury (LRYC) finished in second place on 10 points. Flor O’Driscoll and his team on board HARD ON PORT came in third on 13 points. Alex Shackleton on board JOHNNY BRAVO finished fourth on 16 points. And, Ronan Armstrong on CRAZY HORSE from Sligo finished fifth on 17 points. The prize-giving took place in the clubhouse shortly after all boats were craned out onto their trailers. All boats were on the road home to their respective home towns by 4pm. The J/24 Association of Ireland would like to extend their thanks to Waterways Ireland for their sponsorship of this event.