2015 J/24 World Champs: Black flag thriller

Published on September 3rd, 2015

Boltenhagen, Germany (September 3, 2015) – Ian Southworth, Mike Ingham, and Ian Southworth again today during the 2015 2015 J/24 World Championship regatta. After a Black Flag disqualification in the second race, Ian Southworth kept his cool and sailed on to stabilize his lead. With just one day to go, it is getting harder for the other crews to push the Englishman off the top spot.

On the fourth day of the regatta, the weather gods played wicked games with the nerves of the competitors. In conditions ranging from 6 to 10 knots of wind, 20 to 30 degree wind shifts demanded quick and often audacious tactical decisions.

Ian Southworth, who has been in the lead from day two, made his biggest error so far in the second race today, when he was caught over the line in a Black Flag situation. Disqualified from this race, Southworth and his crew were forced to sit it out and watch arch-rival Mike Ingham on the course, but were relieved when Ingham only ended seventh.

In the last race of the day, which saw extreme wind shifts, Southworth was back on track and sailed home first. On the eve of the final day of racing, 9 points divide him from second-placed Ingham, so both Southworth and his crew will need to stay very focused on Friday.

Travis Odenbach (USA 5432) who is currently third, is followed by a young German crew: Team Tinto from Hamburg are thrilled by their success in Boltenhagen. “Our day started with a little nightmare”, explained tactician Max Bischoff. “Leaving the harbour we noticed our rudder fitting was broken. We quickly changed the rudder and had the alteration approved by the Jury, arriving just in time to start the race. The adrenalin stayed high when we realised we were pretty close to the leading bunch – there was a lot to win, but equally much to lose.”

Today, it proved crucial do make quick and courageous decisions. “In the last race, we rounded the first mark as one of the last boats”, said Max Bischoff; “then we chose the right side of the course and gained a vast amount. In the end, we finished sixth.”

Friday there will be two more races on the final day of the championship. Competition for the top ten positions stays tight. And like Thursday, just one Black Flag disqualification may decide whose name is engraved on the prestigious J/24 World Championship trophy, and whose isn’t.

J/24 class
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.

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Report by Event Media
Photos courtesy of Pepe Hartmann/J/24 worlds

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