Britain’s Ian Southworth and the crew of Il Riccio, have clinched a record-breaking sixth J24 Europeans title from two former World Champions and four other past European Champions in a 67 boat fleet ,in a challenging series hosted by Yacht Club de Monaco.
With most races sub seven knots, competitors had to adjust to the effect of wind-blown tide, shifts of 30 degrees and complete breeze shut-downs. With depths of 200-300 metres across the race area, mark positioning and start-line holding added to the challenges.
Racing from the Yacht Club de Monaco, twenty years after it first held the J24 Europeans, sailors from Germany, Italy , Hungary, Monaco, Great Britain, France and Greece were joined by North American J24 ace, Mike Ingham and by four times World Champion, Mauricio Santa Cruz of Brazil. Former Italian World Champion, Andrea Casale led a serious challenge in Kong Easynet, with the Italian Navy team of La Superba, helmed by past European Champion, Ignazio Bonnano, pushing to improve their eighth place at the 2013 Worlds in Howth. German hopes were led by former European Champion, Peer Kock
The predominately light airs series presented multiple challenges both for the race crews and for the Race committee, led by Race Officer, John Coveney.
Southworth ultimately took the eight race series from Santa Cruz by a comfortable 26 point margin and from second placed European, Ian Tilsley of Monaco, who brought-in former French 470 Olympian and match racer, Francois Brenac to do tactics.
Ian Southworth fielded his regular crew of Andrew McLelland, David Howlett, Chris McLaughlin and Julia Scott. – who were also the 2011 European Champions. This season they have taken the UK Nationals and the Irish Nationals, then placing a frustrating fourth at the Howth World Championship after being black-flagged in a critical race start.
Comments Ian Southworth: 'This was a very tough series. We won without a single gun. The three seconds ;a third;two fourth and a sixth are a tribute to my crews’ calm tenacity and good humour! Our congratulations to Yacht Club de Monaco for a fantastic regatta, which included the best social programme for many years. We will enjoy being based there this winter, with four other UK crews.'
The il Riccio team used a 1996, J Boats Italy hull, race prepared by David Heritage in Cowes and Sparloft New Zealand rig. Sails were the same as the Howth Worlds, but with a change of genoa design to test the North San Diego, Tim Healey modification.
Second British boat , in seventh place, was Duncan MacCarthy in his 2003 US Watercraft boat, Madeleine, with Sparloft rig and North sails. Roger Morris and his team achieved a very creditable 14th, with three top ten finishes in his 2005 Italian-built Jolly Roger with Selden and North rig. Nick Phillips sailing Chaotic (Southworth’s former boat, Hedgehog) was less consistent but counted 2 x third place and a sixth on his way to 16th place.
With boats changing –hands for around £10k, the J24 class is enjoying a renaissance in Europe with many new young teams. Italy and Germany each brought twenty boats o the Europeans and the German contingent included six all female teams. With the Worlds in Kiel in 2015, German sailors are really focused on rapid technical improvement.
The womens’ Europeans trophy was won by Germany’s Ragna Thoennessen from Altona Yacht Club and her crew on Juelssand ,from Lea-Katrina Witt and the Hamburg German crew of Alice and Francesca Guzzo and her Monaco team, sailing Cool J.
by Shireen Crowe
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2:16 PM Sun 13 Oct 2013GMT
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