Britain’s Ian Southworth dominated the J/24 Class racing at Kiel Week from start to finish in his boat Il Riccio (Italian for Hedgehog). A very light wind series tested the 40 boat fleet, which was the largest keel boat class at the event.
Racing began on Thursday in just five knots of wind from the NNW on Course Foxtrot. There was minimal tidal effect but the wind started –out patchy and remained that way.
Just one race was completed and Southworth sailing Inmarsat Il Riccio, took line honours and the leaders yellow vest, from Germany’s Kai Mares in Rotoman and from Sweden’s Anna Gunnarson. The Swedish boat is a 25 year old Westerly, restored with a new J-Boats Italy deck. It was on pace throughout the championship and the German crew have a four year old J Boats Italy hull, built originally for the Brazilian World Champion.
Three races on Day two saw Southworth with a 1, 2 and 6th score. Runner-up in the 2009 European Championship, Mathias Garzmann, in Gunni, also in a Brazilian world champion’s boat, had a good day with 4,1,1 in conditions as light as those seen in Crete.
Swede Per Hakan Persson collected a 3,10,2 and had very good speed across the course. The leaders vest stayed with Southworth who had opened a nine point lead on the fleet overnight.
Saturday arrived with blue skies and again not much wind. The course remained to the right of the Schilksee Olympic Centre and the wind ranged around 1-7 knots. At times the wind would collapse and the fleet stop completely. Southworth said: “ I got a bit worried when on port tack ,we faced a starboard tacker bow to bow”.
Southworth kept the risk down and recorded two seconds as Kai Mares and crew slipped with an 11th and 18th and Dirk Strelow from Germany, worked a 16th and a 2nd to Garzmann’s 11th and 26th.
Most popular win of the day went to Stephanie Kopcke in Vega Reederei and her five blonde girl crew, who inched out Southworth on the finish line to cheers and horns from a raft of spectator boats. The team will be at the Worlds in Sweden hoping to win the women’s J/24 World Championship trophy, having been previously denied it by British Olympic match racer, Lucy McGregor.
With a possible three races on Sunday, the fleet was out on the water early , enjoying the Baltic millpond conditions and waiting for wind. It arrived from the North and at 4-8 knots. Manfred Konig, a long time J/24 racer, led from start to finish in Vitesse, but was disqualified for an early start. Lars Gibbe of Germany recorded his best race of the week, taking the first race from Dirk Strelow and Southworth.
With victory assured, Southworth approached the last race as an experiment. He decided to test an exceptionally light wind setting to see how it would perform in advance of the forthcoming World Championship. Designed for 0-4 knots, it provides a very powerful set-up. The Nordic winds gods decided to have fun and just after the preparatory signal the wind began to build starting in 4 knots and building to 9 knots. Crews are not permitted to change rig settings once racing is underway.
Kai Mares and the Rotoman team excelled in the breeze, heading up the shore-side and extending their lead from Stefan Karsunke in United 5, Anna Gunnarson and Stephanie Kopcke. Southworth worked steadily through the fleet after initially choosing the stronger pressured left side of the course and what proved a persistent shift against him. By the finish he had worked through to fifth place.
Ian Southworth won the 2010 J24 Kiel week 'Fossilien Prize', first awarded in 1994, with a margin of 31 points and discarding a sixth place, from Kai Mares in Rotoman, Dirk Strelow and from 2009 winner and former European Champion, Peer Kock.
Southworth’s crew were Andy McLelland, Mike Kyte, Chris McLaughlin and Julia (Jools) Scott . They used a 1996 J Boat Italy hull, race-prepared by Heritage Racing Yachts; a Sparloft rig and Ullman test sails.
Southworth commented: “What a fantastically well-run event. This was key to our preparations from the World Championship in Malmo, Sweden this August. Our thanks to the German J24 sailors who made us so welcome. And to David Heritage and David Howlett who worked so hard to get us ready. We intend to come back for the German Nationals to test further sails. Kiel should be on all J24 sailor’s calendar as a 'must do'."