Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice of the Royal Cork Yacht Club goes into action at Howth YC this afternoon as the eight event Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championships gets underway.
The Crosshaven boat is one of six vying for the Class Zero title that was narrowly lost to George Sisk’s WOW! from Dun Laoghaire at the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale last June.
It might have been a different outcome then had the 37-footer not broken it’s steering cable in the windy conditions of the opening day that cost Jump Juice that regatta and title.
However, it is likely to be in the smaller classes where the most action will take place this weekend — provided the wind makes an appearance with a forecast of light airs until Sunday.
John Maybury’s Joker 2 from the Royal Irish YC is defending his Class One title won last year in Kinsale but has a potent threat in the form of his clubmate Paul O’Higgins with a brand new JPK1080 design, the sixth boat in his Rockabill series. This is the largest class in action at Howth with 21 entries drawn from around the country.
Recent performances such as John and Brian Halls’ Something Else from the National YC who won the Scottish Series will also be pacing Rob McConnell’s Fool’s Gold from Waterford Harbour, another previous winner of the Loch Fyne regatta.
Class Two saw Howth YC deliver the overall winner of Sovereigns Week last year that was combined with the ICRA championships so Ross McDonald’s team on Equinox were laden with silverware and will be defending on home waters at the front of their 16-strong class.
Howth also dominate Class Three, another 16-boat fleet and defending champions Ireland’s Eye Kilcullen, an all Under 25 youth squad have been impressively growing their list of results since setting out five years ago on their J24.
Last month they won the J24 Northern Championships before placing sixth in the highly competitive British National Championships. Nothing is guaranteed this weekend but their form makes them a certain favourite.
This year’s event will also be the first championship that has elevated the status of the venerable ECHO handicap system to equal standing with the internationally-used IRC system.
Decried for years for vargaries and shortcomings, the system is now known as Progressive ECHO and is fully computer based so competitor feedback will be watched closely.
Meanwhile in Weymouth, the World Cup of Sailing event at the London 2012 Olympic venue finally saw a fully day of racing as winds filled in to enable reliable courses to be set.
Ireland’s squad for Rio 2016 were all in action except Carlow’s Finn Lynch who is at a training camp in Croatia.
Although considered a training regatta with the Olympics less than two months away, the three boats were unable to land any significant result aside from a sixth place by Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er skiff event.
Racing continues today and tomorrow for the fleets before Sunday’s high-scoring medal races for the top ten boats in each class.
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