Ajax National Championship 2002



Richard Chenery in Avocet won the last two races to win a very closely fought championship.  Nineteen boats contested the event in perfect conditions in Falmouth Bay over 19th-21st July.  There were five boats visiting from the Royal Harwich YC fleet from the East Coast to do battle with 14 boats from the hosts, St Mawes Sailing Club.  Pegasus (David Kerridge) won the first race in a moderate breeze, beating Avocet (Richard Chenery) narrowly with defending champion Mandalay (Guy Wallhead) third.


The second race on Friday afternoon saw the easterly wind drop to force 1-2.  Mandalay took a long tack left towards Pendermis Castle and came out with a big lead.  Local boats Sandpiper (Glenn Litherland) and Nemesis (Bob Edwards) battled it out for second.  A left over lop made conditions difficult, especially downwind.  Mandalay won a shortened race by a big margin from Sandpiper and Nemesis.


The wind swung to the north on Saturday morning and strengthened to 3-4.  A late shift put a strong port bias on the start time and Athena (David Liddington) took full advantage to lead all the way round in a shifting breeze.  Nemesis was second and Mandalay third.  It was beginning to look like a successful defence for Mandalay, but a much stronger force 5 breeze on Saturday afternoon brought a change of fortunes.  A big lift on the left hand side of the course brought Polyphemus (Roger Boyle) to the mark first, pursued by Avocet and then a group of five boats battling for third.  Avocet went into the lead by the leeward mark, and Pegasus emerged from the bench to take third, and then passed Polyphemus on the second beat.  Despite major spinnaker problems, and a crew shinning halfway up the mast, Athena battled through to third.  Avocet won comfortably from Pegasus.


After four races, five boats were in contention to win overall.  Four of them needed only to win the last race to lift the championship.  The first beat was critical.  The breeze was northerly 3-4, shifting in a range of 20o .  After a tense beat, Avocet led by a length at the mark from Nemesis and Pegasus.  Pegasus had a spinnaker tangle, and fell back.  Avocet gradually built a comfortable lead to win overall.  Nemesis finished second, to take fourth place overall and Mandalay finished third, to make them second overall.  Ron Medlyn as race officer organised an excellent set of races and Cedric Thomas for St Mawes SC organised the most closely fought and most enjoyable championship for many years.


Results: 1.         Avocet (Richard Chenery)        9 pts

                        2.         Mandalay (Guy Wallhead)        10 pts

                        3.         Pegasus (David Kerridge)         11 pts

                        4.         Nemesis (Bob Edwards)           12 pts

                        5.         Athena (David Liddington)        13 pts