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IC24 World Championships – Spinnakers were Allowed!

Tortola’s Nanny Cay IC24 dock came alive on Dec 9th for the IC24 World Championships. Excitement was high as the class has recently taken the much-discussed step of sanctioning spinnakers. Sixteen boats from USVI, BVI, St Martin, and Puerto Rico took to the choppy waters, encouraged by a 12 -15 knot easterly.

The skill of this fleet has reached such a level that judicial use of both windward and leeward gates has become standard operating procedure for race committees. This has eliminated much (but not all!) of the bumper boat issues that come with closely matched one design racing.
Boats can round either one of two marks at either extremity of the windward/leeward course which makes for some interesting tactical spinnaker handling.

The Royal British Virgin Islands YC race committee also included a course change in the Sailing Instructions to keep the crews guessing. Using a course change flag, the fleet was directed to treat the windward gate as a single mark with offset—just when they had got used to the gate idea. At close of Saturday’s racing after steady winds and six races, the standings were:  Tortola’s Latitude 19 ½, Orion from Puerto Rico, and Bambooshay from St Thomas separated by only 3 points!  Hey this is the Worlds! The Puerto Ricans sailing with a crew of four (not five) were very fast and consistent.

But Sunday was a new day. Winds were up to a steady 20 knots and the chop had become a healthy swell. The race committee got the fleet out early and drove the teams through five more races. By the third race winds were up to 25 and Race Officer Simon Woods made a prudent call for the “spinnakers allowed” flag to be dropped with few complaints by the tiring fleet –now down to 14 boats after two jib halyard failures. At the end of the day Bambooshay was on top followed by Latitude 19 ½
and Sea Hawk with a spread of seven points. Downwind, the Puerto Ricans were very fast and, but for a mark infringement when in the lead, would have been tough to beat. Watch for their fleet to be a real challenge. The IC24s showed their pedigree on every leg. particularly “lifting their skirts” in the downwind planing conditions with and without spinnakers.

At the awards Kevin Wrigley, representing the main sponsor Quantum sails, presented beautiful half shell trophies and cash prizes. Colin Rathburn announced a new web site for IC24 ideas and communication: www.IC24.org. Seems likely the Inter Club concept could soon be Intra Caribbean!

Results:

1st  Bambooshay           Chris Rosenberg – St Thomas
2nd Latitude 19 ½          Chris Haycraft – BVI
3rd Sea Hawk               Mike and Robby Hirst – BVI

How did it happen?

The perfect sailing waters of the Virgin Islands needed a one design fleet boat to enable the “beer can” club sailor to get involved without mortgaging the kids’ school fees. So why not pick one from the selection of hundreds of available “one design” boats of every length and sail plan? Call it lack of leadership or focus or just not wanting to be a “me too” class so nobody ever picked one…but the old J24s were dying and their testosterone-loaded crews were “maturing “.

In St Thomas, Chris Rosenberg and Morgan Avery saw this as an opportunity to keep the baby and the bathwater: coalesce one design sailing energy in the Leeward Islands around an ageing inventory of little used J24 boats—with a weather eye on the success of the Melges 24. 
Take a chain saw to the cockpit; scrap the traveler and bond in a new Melges-style cockpit. Voila!—a new one design crew friendly sport boat is born. Seriously the conversion uses a new deck mold creating a roomy cockpit but retaining all the excitement of the proven Bruce Kirby hull. This allows fast crew work reaching its zenith in exciting roll tacks and downwind surfing!

The reinstatement of the spinnakers has been a success. Adding the provision to limit their use when wind conditions dictate will hopefully maintain the crew-friendly goals of the class.

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