In 2010, ambassadors, Tim Healey and John Mollicone won the J24 World Championships. In 2013 they traveled to Ireland to take back their title. They came home to Newport as World Champions and proceeded to take the J24 North American title as well.
We just returned from the 2013 J24 Worlds, sailed out of Howth Yacht Club in Ireland. Howth is a beautiful town about 15 miles outside of Dublin, and the area is visually stunning. It is an incredible mix of interesting, historic buildings, dark, craggy rocks rising out of the deep green of the hills, and dramatic cliffs that drop steeply into the ever-changing Irish Sea – truly a breathtaking venue!
We spent two weeks in Howth: one week preparing for the event and the second week sailing ten races over five days. The racing was challenging, with the Irish Sea showing us plenty of current, and winds ranging from 4 to 24 knots. There were lead changes just about every day and the starts were tense with the combination of current and the always present black flag. The racing was fantastic: challenging and fun, and run in a professional, efficient manner by the organizers at Howth Yacht Club. Truly a spectacular event in a spectacular setting.
The locals were incredibly friendly and, we were pleased to see, very conscientious in their environmental sensitivity. Our rental house had solar panels for hot water, and the water from the sinks was reused for the toilets. This seemed to be the norm for many houses in the area. All of the shops charged a fee for plastic bags (equivalent to about 25 cents), so locals knew to bring their own reusable bags to the market. Howth Yacht Club had large recycling bins spread around the site, as well as a water cooler for sailors to refill their water bottles.
We used our 11th Hour water bottles, packed our own lunches reusing the store packaging, and sailed to and from the dock whenever it was practical – simple practices that can go a long way toward decreasing our impact on the planet. Our goal is, and always has been, to incorporate these minor changes into our daily habits and to show others that we can balance awareness of our environment with the focus necessary to compete at all levels. We follow the same routines and practices for every event, whether we are sailing our local Thursday night series or competing at the World Championships, and we have found them to be an easy transition, as well as rewarding. There is less trash to clean up after we sail, and it is always less expensive to reuse rather than to buy new.
Our time in Ireland made us realize that here in the United States we still have a long way to go towards embracing a natural, second-nature attitude regarding environmentally sound practices in our everyday lives, but we are encouraged by the positive feedback we get when people hear, and now recognize the 11th Hour name. We are grateful to 11th Hour Racing for raising awareness regarding the ease with which we can all make small changes to help our environment – and we are especially grateful to be a part of such an important, timely, positive movement for change.