JOCELYN FOGAGNOLO – Hobart Mercury
The Hobart fleet of one of the worlds must popular racing one design keel-boats is set to be increased thanks to an innovative move by local class enthusiasts.
Members of the Tasmanian J24 Association have taken the first step in an ambitious plan to enlarge the state fleet by buying boats interstate, doing them up son selling them on.
It is a strategy that has paid off already this month with the arrival of a J24 from Lake Macquarie, in NSW.
It was towed to Tasmania by J24 Association president Kaye Roberts and Stewart Geeves, both champion sailors in the class. It was overhauled by association members and is now ready for sale as an entry level boat for racing.
“The aim is to build up the number of actively sailing J24s in Hobart to at least 20,” said association publicity officer Nathan Males.
He said the J24 was the ideal one design boat for the Derwent with its strict design rules meaning there as a whole range of boats available of different ages and at varying prices.
“An older boat ran be bought for about $12,000 and with little effort can be made competitive against newer boats,’ he said.
It meant the class was accessible to younger sailors or those racing for the first time – while still remaining attractive to more experienced sailors.
“The J24 has the potential to be developed as a pathway into competitive racing on the Derwent end elsewhere in Tasmania – but fleet numbers need to be built up,” he said.
At present there were about 10 actively racing, sailing mainly in Derwent Sailing Squadron and Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania winter and summer pennant races.
But the aim was to develop class racing. Males said it was also
intended to provide an active training program with at least one training regatta a year with access to national and international J24 coaches.
The fast and stable J24 was designed and built in the US by Rod Johnstone in 1975. He wanted a fast multi-purpose boat that could compete under a variety of local racing rules but still be comfortable enough to be used for family weekend or cruising, ‘that first boat was called Ragtime and it provided the mould for the new class.
The natural extension of the success of the J24 was a one design, international fleet with rules governing and limiting the modifications that could be made to a standard production hull and rig to ensure that all racing J24s were essentially the same.
It means that crew are pitted against crew with the emphasis on skill and teamwork rather than technology and money.
The class’s Internet site says “more than 50,000 people sail J24s in more than 105 active fleets in 40 nations and the strict one design rules provide some of the closest racing found anywhere in the world.
“Many of the most successful sailboat racing sailors in the world have cut their teeth in J24s – and any J24 regardless of age can be made competitive.”
Males said the first boat to arrive in Hobart order the “buying-up plan” had been bought with class association funds and help from members.
It was now for sale and further information was available in both the J24 association and the boat, by ringing Nathan Males on 0424 305 184.
Members of the public can see local J24s being rigged up and racing out of the DSS and RYCT on Sunday pennant days in the winter and Saturdays during the summer.