Ajax National Championships 2004
Twenty four Ajax 23 foot keelboats gathered at St Mawes to contest a championship in light winds over three days (30th July – 1st August). The series had to be shortened to four races. The championship came down to a close battle between Bob Edwards in Nemesis for the home club and Doug Sharps in Avocet from Royal Harwich YC, which was only decided on the second beat of the last race.
Five boats from Royal Harwich Yacht Club travelled the 400 miles to do battle with the St Mawes fleet. On Thursday the team match for the Oliver Lee trophy was held off St Mawes under grey skies in rain squalls. St Mawes narrowly beat Royal Harwich to win the trophy for the first time in some years.
Friday brought a light northerly for the first race in Falmouth Bay. Those who went right found more breeze funnelling out of Carrick Roads. At the first mark Avocet (Doug Sharps) led from Nemesis (Bob Edwards), Troy (St Mawes Class Captain Cedric Thomas) and Goosander (Robin Edwards and John Pack). Two slow reaches in a dying breeze led race officer Ron Medlyn to shorten the race at the end of the second beat. The order remained the same, except Samaki (Alan Williams) took fourth place from Goosander. The breeze died in the bay and the race officer tried to set a course for the second race in Carrick Roads, but to no avail.
On Saturday the sea breeze filled in before the start giving a south/south westerly force 2. Nemesis, Indefatigable (Chris Thomas) and Pegasus (David Kerridge) went right, found the better breeze and reached the weather mark in that order. Pegasus rolled over Indefatigable on the first reach to take second place. As the race progressed Goosander and Athena (David Liddington) extracted themselves from the chasing pack and passed Indefatigable to take third and fourth.
In the afternoon race in similar conditions many boats went right but Goosander went left and led at the weather mark from a bunch of five boats: Athena, Nemesis, Pegasus, Victory (Mike Conlin) and Aquila (Lindsay Thomas). Goosander built a handy lead on the reaches she went right on the second beat but sailed into lighter breezes. Athena and Avocet went left and made big gains, getting past Goosander. Avocet took the lead to win, and Nemesis passed Goosander to take third.
There was hope that two races could be held on Sunday to complete the five race series, but in the event it was only possible to hold one in a light to moderate easterly breeze. The championship lay between Avocet (1, 6, 1) and Nemesis (2, 1, 3). Those who went left found a good shift, but a strong foul tide on the weather mark caused problems for many. Nemesis was round first followed by Redoubtable (Neil Cameron) then Avocet and Pegasus. Avocet was second at the leeward mark. The leaders went right on the second boat and Avocet rolled over Nemesis to take the lead and the championship. Meanwhile Athena came through to third, and third place overall. It was a good championship in light breezes with the biggest turnout for many years.
1. Avocet (Doug Sharps / Richard Chenery) (1, (6), 1, 1) 3 points (RHYC)
2. Nemesis (Bob Edwards) (2, 1, (3), 2) 5 points (SMSC)
3. Athena (David Liddington) ((8), 4, 2, 3) 9 points (SMSC)
4. Goosander (Robin Edwards / John Pack (5, 3, 4, (14)) 12 points (RHYC)
5. Pegasus (David Kerridge / James Skellorn) (7, 2, (14), 5) 14 points (RHYC)