2015 J/24 World Champs: Southworth in a class of his own
Published on September 2nd, 2015
Boltenhagen, Germany (September 2, 2015) – On day 3 of the 2015 J/24 World Championships in Boltenhagen, Germany, the fleet faced winds of up to 20 knots. It was again Ian Southworth (GBR 5219) who sailed two excellent races and kept his lead over second-placed Mike Ingham (USA 5443). And today Travis Odenbach (USA 5432) also entered the stage.
With two more days to go, one team clearly has the form to win this year’s J/24 World Championship. Ian Southworth and his crew, with a third and a first place today, are putting together a very consistent series. Southworth, who narrowly lost the worlds 2010 and ended up fourth in 2012 and 2013, is totally focused on finally winning this trophy. His crew has so far sailed five different J/24s and, with number 5, called “Il Riccio” which is Italian for “Hedgehog”, they seem to have found the ideal setup.
But competition remains tough as there are two excellent and experienced US teams hot on the tail of “Il Riccio”: Mike Ingham, with 2014 world champion Will Welles as a tactician, and Travis Odenbach, who is also a very skilled J/24 sailor.
Despite the strong winds, day three of the worlds saw the first all-female crew in the Top Ten: Ragna Thönnessen and her crew of “Juelssand” (GER 5313) finished in eighth position in the second race of the day. “This is our best result at a Word Championship so far”, said bow woman Laura Hatje. “Sailing was great fun today, though the conditions were pretty tough for a crew as light as we are. After a good start, we found very good boat speed and took the right tactical decisions.”
The Juelssand Crew has been sailing together since 2008. With an average age of 25, they are one of the youngest teams in the fleet. “Ian and his crew are doing amazingly well”, said Laura Hatje; “Our bet is that they will be the new World champions. But up to now, the results are very mixed, so racing stays exciting!”
With just a few points apart, the fight for the Top Ten stays tight. For Thursday, the weather forecast sees the wind decreasing to an average of 11 knots, which may favour the lighter crews like that of Tokuma Takesue from Japan, currently in fourth place.
Tonight, the crews will gather for the traditional “Champions Dinner” held by the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein who is organizing the event. The first warning signal on Thursday will be at 12:00 hrs. All races can be tracked live via Trac Trac.
In 1976, US sailor Rodney S. Johnstone constructed a simple, cheap and fast boat for his son in his garage. Today, the J/24 is the world’s largest keel boat class. Its strict class rules keep racing simple and affordable, even for youth teams, and the strict “one design” concept makes competition even more fun. Many successful sailors began their career in J/24, including Ken Read (Skipper in several Volvo Ocean Race-campaigns), silver medallist and America´s Cup tactician John Kostecki, and America´s Cup winner Ed Baird.