Headcase, winner of the J/24 Range Rover European Championship. Photo credit: YCCS/Daniele Macis

Headcase, winner of the J/24 Range Rover European Championship. Photo credit: YCCS/Daniele Macis

Range Rover J/24 European Championship, Headcase wins 2nd consecutive title


16/06/2024 - 21:00

Today saw the conclusion of the J/24 European Championship organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda with the International J/24 Class Association, the Italian J/24 Class Association and the support of title sponsor Range Rover. The Race Committee held three races, with a Mistral wind blowing at 10 to 15 knots, thus completing the maximum of 10 races set out in the schedule.

With precise manoeuvres and a 1-2-5 scoreline for today, the defending European champion, Irish boat Headcase, once again claimed the top spot in the blustery waters of Porto Cervo. “We’re really happy,” commented Cillian Dixon, helmsman on Headcase, “it’s like a dream to have won the J/24 European Championship again. We are really satisfied. Today was a difficult day, we pushed the boat to the maximum and sometimes it didn't go exactly as we would have liked. We handled an equipment failure well and in the end we achieved an excellent result.”

In addition to helmsman Cillan Dixon, the winning crew for the J/24 European Championship was made up of Sam O'Byrne, Ryan Gylnn, Marcus Ryan and Louis Mulloy - a close-knit group of sailors and friends who also took victory in the Corinthian classification. 

Second place, with a 9-point gap, went to La Superba, representing the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) and with Ignazio Bonanno at the helm alongside former 470 world champion Gabrio Zandonà on tactics. They put in a good attempt to catch the provisional leaders today, but a 4-1-2 scoreline was not enough to oust Headcase from pole position. Third place went to the Hungarians on J.Bond who, after scoring a second and third place in the first two races, concluded the final race in 11th place.

Ignazio Bonanno, helmsman of La Superba: “Congratulations to the Irish crew on Headcase, they were really good. We tried to make life difficult for them until the very end, we are satisfied with our result, an excellent second place. With the strong wind yesterday, unusual conditions in the Mediterranean, we had little speed on the upwinds, we tried to modify the set-up but we are not used to strong airs. Today's performance, on the other hand, was excellent.” 

Today's first race started with the Mistral at around 16 knots, with the fleet largely on the favoured left-hand side of the course, and saw Headcase bag their sixth race win with a clear lead over the rest of the fleet. Second were the Hungarians of J.Bond, and third the Germans of Hungriger Wolf, who concluded the Championship in fifth place overall. In the second race the Mistral dropped to 10 knots, opening up more tactical options on the right-hand side of the course. A photo finish on the line went to La Superba, who sailed the last downwind leg in cleaner air, arriving at the finish line together with Headcase, second, and J.Bond, who took third place after dominating in the first three legs of the race. The wind picked up again for the third race of the day, and the bullet went to one of the leading local crews, Vigne Surrau helmed by Aurelio Bini. This final win brought the team representing CN Arzachena to finish in fourth place overall, the top-placed crew from the Sardinian fleet.

The J/24 European Championship 2024 embodied the core values of this historic class: inclusiveness and fair play. There were a significant number of women on the water, with many mixed crews taking part. The J/24 class also welcomes all ages: from the youngest competitor, 17-year-old Mattia Gelsi, on Furio & Fantaghirò, to Massimo Mariotti, owner of Avoltore and Honorary President of the Italian J/24 Class, who continues to race with great enthusiasm at 86 years of age. A notable example of the class's fair play was the gesture by the German crew on Vitesse, after a collision yesterday - in which they were at fault - prevented the Australian team from continuing in the event, they lent them their boat to compete today.

A packed prize-giving ceremony took place in Piazza Azzurra, attended by Giovanni Tamburi, Vice President of the YCCS Board of Directors, Marco Santucci, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover Italia, and Pietro Diamanti, President of the Italian J/24 Class.

Edoardo Recchi, YCCS Secretary General and Sports Director: “We are delighted to have welcomed the J/24 Class back to Porto Cervo, after the last European Championship was held here in 1989. The atmosphere of this event was particularly enjoyable, marked by the friendly yet competitive spirit typical of the class. Despite no racing being possible on the first day, the range of weather conditions over the following days allowed for the completion of all 10 scheduled races. It was thrilling to see the large fleet of J/24s competing in the waters off Porto Cervo, with Mistral winds reaching up to 16 knots and Scirocco winds exceeding 20 knots. Our congratulations go to the Irish team on Headcase for their victory, and to all the participants for their sportsmanship. On behalf of the YCCS, I would like to thank the International J/24 Class Association and the Italian J/24 Class for their collaboration in organising this event, and our partner Range Rover for their support as title sponsor.”

Pietro Diamanti, President of the Italian J/24 Class: ‘When it was suggested last year to come to Porto Cervo, we were proud to accept. I am pleased to see almost 50 participants, achieving such a significant number is not easy. The organisation of the event, both at sea and ashore, has been perfect, and for that I would like to thank the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda."

The next event organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda will be the Grand Soleil Cup, scheduled for 21 to 23 June 2024.

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