Britain’s Ian Southworth totally dominated the J24 National Championships at Howth over the weekend, with five race wins in the 8-race series, while the Howth U-25 Keelboat team, as the highest placed Irish boat in the event in 6th place, were crowned National Champions.
In what was a useful practice before the BMW J24 World Championship in a week’s time, Southworth and his crew on ‘Il Riccio’ from the Royal Corinthian YC demonstrated remarkable boat speed in the strong and gusty westerly and south-westerly winds. Three bullets and a second place meant they topped the leaderboard after the first day’s racing ahead of compatriot Bob Turner (‘Serco’) from Castle Cove SC.
The Howth U25 crew sailing ‘Euro Car Parks Killcullen’ had a consistent first day, although defending Irish champion J-P McCaldin was narrowly the best of the local boats after day 1. The young HYC team moved up a gear on the second day to record 4, 5, 7 and 9 to finish five points clear of nearest Irish rival Flor O’Driscoll (‘Hard on Port’) while another Howth boat, ‘Stouche’ (Darrer/Murphy) took 8th overall and 3rd of the Irish entries.
The statistics show that Southworth only beat American Keith Whittemore from Seattle by 0.5 points overall but they didn’t compete in the last two races (they had to catch a plane home!) giving an artificially narrow margin that didn’t do justice to their dominance over the two days.
Another American, Tony Parker, finished behind third-placed Bob Turner and a single point ahead fifth placed Paul Williams from Britain.
Southworth is familiar with the Howth waters, having won the BMW J24 Europeans there two years ago and his crew’s performance at the Nationals underlines what a threat they will be at the forthcoming Worlds.