Encore performance from McCaldin and crew
Jamais Encore (right) helmed by JP McCaldin, battling for position during a run down wind with Kilcullen.
Lough Erne Yacht Club crew 'Jamais Encore' owned and steered by John Patrick McCaldin won a close fought J24 Irish National Championships on Lough Ree near Athlone last weekend. Glorious conditions with a strong northerly breeze on Saturday saw five crews from Lough Erne compete against a further 14 crews from Cork, Howth, Lough Swilly, and Lough Ree. Despite not winning a race McCaldin and crew ended the five race day on the top of the pile due to a very consistent set of results.
"We ended the day with the narrowest of leads but were delighted not to have counted any poor results which could come back to haunt us on day two," explained McCaldin.
Jamais Encore, Stouché including past European Champion Nathan Batchelor amongst their crew and Kilcullen-Euro Car Parks were on 9, 10 and 11 points respectively, with the chasing pack ready to pounce on any mistakes on 15, 16, 20 and 21 meant all was to play for going in to what was set to be a nerve wracking second day.
The pressure told on Jamais Encore who had a poor start to day two with a lowly 11th place in race six. Fortunately the majority of their rivals could not capitalise on their error as they also fielded poor results, all except Crazy Horse who launched themselves out of the chasing pack with a third place.
A combination of errors in a nervy race seven saw Jamais Encore let a good third position slip to eventually finish in seventh place. Crazy Horse helmed by ex-Irish Admiral's Cup skipper Mossy Shanahan revelled in the pressure and the light and shifty conditions to count an impressive second place.
Other results meant four boats could possibly win the championships going into the eighth and final race Jamais Encore and Crazyhorse were tied on 21 points with Kilcullen Euro Car Parks on 23 points and Stouché on 25 points.
Controlled aggression in the pressure cooker situation saw McCaldin save his best race start for the last race immediately giving them control. As the race continued, places changed on regular basis but a percentage game meant that by sticking close to their rival, Jamais Encore secured the championship by three points.
"It was so close at the finish we were unsure if we had won until we returned to shore. I feel really proud to have won but absolutely knackered," enthused McCaldin on his return to Fermanagh.
Lough Ree has proved a happy hunting ground for the McCaldin family with John Patrick's first National Championship's victory following his dad's Mickey McCaldin's previous wins in Athlone in both 2000 and 2009. Mickey showed he had not lost his touch with a 'boat of the day' performance on Sunday culminating in a race win in race eight. The Jamais Encore crew included Fermanagh exiles Chris Scott, Ross Boyd, Scot Liz Copland and Bangor based Ben Magown. Barry Humphrey's recently revitalised "TJ" saw further silverware return to Lough Erne with a third place finish in the Silver Fleet. Tim Rippey's Jigalo and Brendan Gallagher's Juvescence both sailed consistent series with sixth and 10th positions among their respective race results. McCaldin and crew will now go forward to compete in October's Irish Sailing Association All Ireland Sailing Championships against National Champions from other fleets and Ireland's Olympic Sailing Team from London 2012.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 30 Aug 12