Ajax 2007 National Championship – 22-24 July
Royal Harwich Yacht Club
Seventeen boats including three crews from the South West fleet
The first race on Friday was sailed in a fresh south easterly. The line had a port bias and the boats that went left did well. A shift to the left meant many had overstood, and Pegasus (Belinda Joslin) reached the windward mark first. Athena (defending champion David Liddington) and Goosander (Ian Sharps and John Pack) passed her downwind and then Goosander took the lead when Athena had a spinnaker problem. Telamon (Gordon Sutton) moved into third place on the beat, but blew out her spinnaker on the last triangle to let Guillemot (David Mayne) through to third.
The second race produced a general recall. After the restart, Thunderer (John Williams) led from Mars (Chris Brown) and Athena. Goosander got past Thunderer to lead on the second beat, then overstood the mark so Thunderer regained the lead. Goosander passed her on the run and held on to win from Thunderer and Athena.
Saturday produced a lighter north westerly, with fickle changes of direction under the clouds. Mars reached the windward mark first, pursued by \Pegasus, Athena and Goosander. The second beat was decisive. Mars and Athena went right towards Felixstowe and found little wind. Goosander went left, and found a fresh and freeing breeze to lead at the weather mark from Prometheus (Charles Rice), Nemesis (Robin Edwards) and Puffin (David Pearce). Down the run a number of boats gybed off to the left, but it was the boats that stayed on the rhumb line that did best. At the finish, Goosander won from Nemesis, Puffin and Pegasus.
Three races and three wins for Goosander gave them one hand on the trophy. The fourth race was tense. The wind freshened initially. After a general recall, Mars again read the shifts best to lead at the weather mark. However, they headed for the leeward mark, and the fleet followed until Puffin headed for the wing mark. She led there from Athena and Pegasus. Up the beat Athena took the lead from a chasing pack of eight boats, as Goosander recovered from a poor start. Goosander got to second on the run, but places were changing constantly as the breeze went lighter. At the finish Athena won from Thunderer. Goosander was third, to give her the championship with a race to spare.
Sunday morning was overcast with a moderate south westerly which freshened to force 4-5 at the start. Yet again Mars led at the windward mark. The following three boats (Pegasus, Thunderer and Artemis) became embroiled at the mark, allowing Mars to make a clean getaway and Apollo (Jeremy Prosser and Frank Norman) took second place. Pegasus recovered to third down the run and then second after Apollo had spinnaker trouble at the leeward mark. Athena came through to second on the next beat, and Nemesis got to third place on the second run. Artemis passed her on the third beat, so Mars won from Athena and Artemis.
Goosander was a popular winner. Owner John Pack has gone from novice racer to championship winner in eight seasons. Helm, Ian Sharps, showed great speed upwind and down, and good powers of recovery in the difficult conditions on Saturday. Race Officer Doug Brown produced good courses and class captain Bob Tate organised a smooth running and thoroughly enjoyable championship.
1 Goosander (Pack/Sharps) (1,1,1,3,(9)) 6 pts
2 Athena (Liddington) (2,3,(5),1,2) 8 pts
3 Thunderer (Williams) (5,2,(12),2,6) 15 pts
4 Artemis (Mackley) ((13),5,7,4,3) 19 pts
5 Nemesis (Edwards) ((9),7,2,7,4) 20 pts