Chairman's Report to the AGM of the Association on 15 October 1995.
John R Williams George H Josselyn
The 1995 season may be remembered as the rules and buoyancy year! I am sure that you all will have been dismayed by the weight of paper that has dropped through your letter boxes this year. However, issues appear and decisions have to be taken for the good of the association.
As you all will know, Redoubtable was knocked down and swamped during the SW Championships. She floated very much 'down by the bow,' which meant that it was very difficult to salvage her and that it would have been impossible had conditions been worse. A controlled sinking was performed soon after this at Percuil. Nemasis only floated level, with the crew in the cockpit, after 75 litres of buoyancy was placed in the bow as far forward as possible. With 40 stone on board there was only 1 inch of freeboard plus the upstand around the cockpit. Our experience on the East Coast of 2 sinkings while racing, was different in that the boats floated level. However, the point that we all agree on is that the boats float very low in the water and that they would be impossible to bail out if there were any significant waves.
I personally feel that he correct solution to this is to place 3 dinghy buoyancy bags in the boats. A bow bag of --------litres and a bag of------litres under each helmsman's seat. The cost of these 3 bags is ---- from crewsaver. The question that the association should address is whether this should be mandatory or strongly advisable. There is a voting paper for you to complete for the AGM.
There is also the same question regarding the carrying of flares. The point was brought home to me quite forcibly during the last sea race when the wind got up unexpectedly while the fleet was several miles dead downwind of the harbour and home. Two boats in other classes lost their masts on that occasion and the lifeboat and Coast guards had about 28 calls. The Ajax fleet was widely split and if one of us had become swamped or lost their mast it would have been very difficult to attract assistance. I understand that it is a requirement of Port of Falmouth that flares are carried. Should this become an Ajax class rule? There is again a voting form with the agenda for the AGM.
On the question of altering the rules regarding adjustable backstays, barber haulers, 16 to 1 jib sheets, spinnaker shutes etc., there has been no enthusiasm for change at all. The rules will therefore remain unchanged for the time being, except for the items agreed by the Committee at their meeting in April 1995 and the consequent amendments.
On a lighter note, the 28th Ajax National Championships were held in Dovercourt Bay on July 7th-9th. Ajax and Nimrod (sailed by David Mathewson and Richard Beaman respectively) made the 400 mile trip from St Mawes and provided the home fleet with very competitive sailing. A mixture of windward-leeward and Olympic courses resulted in some extremely close racing. The first race sailed in a force 2 was won by David Mathewson despite a poor start. The wind freshened to force 3 in the afternoon and the second race was won by Richard Beaman. On day 2 the third race was sailed in a force 1-2. There was a long slow run against the tide which allowed John Williams to pull back from a bad start and win from David Mathewson. In the fourth race the wind freshened to force 3. Richard Beaman lost his Spinnaker halyard while in the lead, and sent a crew member up the mast on the jib halyard to retrieve it. The race was eventually won by Chris Brown, who has been Champion many times in the past. On the last day, the wind freshened to force 4/5 for the 5th race. The first beat was with the tide, and boats that went to the right overstood the windward mark. Chris Brown broke his spreader but continued for a further lap with his mast supported only by the lower shrouds and bending at alarming angles! He finally retired as the wind freshened and the deck started to protest at the laser style mast support system! Tony James led for most of the race but was overtaken by David Mathewson who won his second race and the Championship. The East Coast members were delighted that two boats made the long journey from the SW as it makes the Championships more worthwhile. I hope that both fleets will continue to make the effort.
1st 44 Ajax David Mathewson St Mawes SC
2nd 15 Nimrod Richard Beaman St Mawes SC
3rd 14 Thunderer John Williams RHYC
4th 41 Mars Chris Brown RHYC
5th 34 Sirius Tony James/K Stowe RHYC
6th 20 Guillimot David Mayne RHYC
The Association pays annually £256 to insure the 4 Trophies which have a total value of £3450 approx. The Trophies are kept at the winners homes. It would seem sensible if the trophies were kept in either the St Mawes SC or the RHYC after they had been presented at the Championship prize giving, as there would be less chance of having them stolen and the club insurance would cover them. Members views on this subject would be welcomed at the AGM.
The RHYC again hosted the Oxford & Cambridge University Sailing Team Race in Ajaxes.(previously hosted in 1992) This was again a successful event. Cambridge won both the men's and the ladies event after some very close racing. I understand that the Universities may be approaching the SW fleet to ask whether St Mawes SC would be prepared to host the 1996 event and lend the 6 or 7 Ajaxes required.
The Chairman (John Williams) has been in post since 1991 and since 1989 as Vice Chairman.
The Secretary (George Josselyn) has been in post since 1989. George has done a tremendous amount of work for the Association both as Secretary and before that as the prime mover on the committee which re wrote the rules. We are all very grateful to him. These posts should change every 5 years and should move to the 'other fleet' (while they remain similar in size.) Michael Beaman has kindly agreed to stand as Chairman and John Round as Secretary with Brian Roberts as Treasurer. Michael Akehurst has kindly offered to stand as Vice Chairman on the East Coast. These changes will hopefully be approved at the AGM on 15 Oct. 1995.
The bottom 1 to 2 inches of the original masts are becoming seriously corroded. Replacement masts seem to cost around £1000. On the East Coast several boats have resolved this problem by hack sawing about 1.5 inches off the bottom of the mast. The heel plug can then be easily removed. The 'new' bottom of the mast is then cleaned up with a file and the heel plug refitted and re-riveted. A hard wood block of exactly the same thickness as the amount removed from the mast is then screwed to the floorboards. (A slot for the heel tenon having been cut from the block.) The distance from floorboard to bottom black band is then checked by a measurer and you have saved £995! Before you start to hacksaw, please check that you have left enough clearance so that you don't damage the heel plug.
The SW fleet is in extremely good heart with demand for Ajaxes outstripping supply. Falmouth Week attracted an excellent entry of 24. The series was won by David Mathewson in Ajax with 6 firsts. Rob Collins in Diomedes was second. Brian Robert in Sandpiper was third, with Elaine and Paul Davies fourth in Atalanta. Winds were generally light. The SW championships attracted 17 entries. Conditions were wild and windy. Breakages were frequent and, as you have read already, Redoubtable was swamped. The first race resulted in 7 retirements. John Howard won the first race after Ajax had to retire with a damaged jib luff. Ajax won the 4 race series with 2 firsts and a second place. Second was------, Third was----- and fourth was ----.
I hope that as many of you as possible will fill in the proxy voting forms so that we have the opinions of as broad a section of the membership as we can.