Ajax 2008 National Championship


Falmouth 25th-27th July 2008


Medlyn’s Swansong



Sunshine and light breezes characterised the championship for the Ajax class of 23-foot keelboats hosted by St Mawes Sailing Club.  It was the final event for Ron Medlyn as race officer.  He is retiring after running the championship regattas for Ajaxes in Falmouth for very many years.  Fittingly it was a vintage championship.  26 boats competed, including eight visitors from the East Coast fleet from Royal Harwich Yacht Club.


Friday started with rain, grey skies and the faintest breeze.  After several abandoned starts as the wind swung from south to west and filled in, the fleet got away.  There was a pin bias on the line and definding champion Goosander (Ian Sharps), Athena (David Liddington) and Aquila (Lindsey Thomas) took full advantage.  Athena passed Goosander on the second beat, then Avocet (Doug Sharps) got through to second, Aquila held third and Goosander sailed out of the breeze on the right and dropped to fourth.  That was how it finished.


The afternoon race was a windward/leeward course.  After a general recall Diomedes (Richard Beaman) flew out of the pin end and built a big lead on the first beat, which she did not relinquish.  Meanwhile Aquila was black flagged.  Lindsey Thomas was to have her revenge later on….  Athena was second to the weather mark, pursued by East Coast champion Thunderer (John Williams) and Goosander.


The racing was very close in the light breeze, and the last eleven boats arrived at the leeward mark together.  As the rafted-up boats extracted themselves, brisk discussion ensued between boats.  On the second beat there was less wind to the left and Thunderer lost out, dropping from 3rd to 9th.  On the third beat Amalthea (Roger Wood) went right as the leaders went leftish and she came into contention.  On the last run Guillemot (David Mayne) went right and found more breeze.  In a tight downwind finish Diomedes won from Athena, Amalthea and Guillemot.


Saturday morning was foggy.  The fleet stayed ashore until 1 pm when a team race between the younger helms of St Mawes SC and Royal Harwich YC was held for the Lee Trophy.  RHYC won the first race, at which point the team racing was adjourned as the mist cleared and a light sea breeze came in.  Ron Medlyn quickly laid a course by St Anthony’s Light and got the fleet away at the second attempt.  The boats that went left found more breeze, and at the windward mark it was Goosander leading from Kali (Charles Emmett), Guillemot, Thunderer and Athena.  On the second beat the boats that went right were helped by the ebb flowing out of the Fal and the wind shifted right to increase the advantage.  Amalthea went right and once again got into contention.  The wind went very light as the leaders approached the weather mark and Athena rounded first.  She set her spinnaker on starboard and gybed, but Amalthea set on the favoured port gybe and was able to roll over Athena.  The race finished at the leeward mark in a dying breeze.  Amalthea won from Athena, following by Guillemot, Goosander and Kali.  So ended racing for the day.


Sunday dawned calm and fine.  A light sea breeze filled in early, enabling the fleet to sail two races over a shortened triangular course, with the starting line near Gyllingvase.


Athena was leading on points and a win would secure her the championship, but if Amalthea could win the race she would be leading on countback.  Those who went left found more breeze.  Athena led from Amalthea at the weather mark, followed by Thunderer, Diomedes and Guillemot.  Athena covered Amalthea carefully up the beats and won narrowly from Amalthea, so that Athena secured the championship after four races.  Behind these two, Guillemot took third after a close race with Pintail (Richard Bown).


In the fifth race, left was the way to go again.  Guillemot led from Amalthea, Troy (Cedric Thomas) and Ajax (David Mathewson).  On the second beat Guillemot and Amalthea went right.  Ajax went left and took the lead.  At the finish Ajax won from Guillemot and Amalthea.  Athena (who had been over the line at the start) recovered to fourth, with Troy fifth.


At the prize giving, the class presented Ron Medlyn with an Ajax half model made by David Mayne.  Lindsey Thomas, backed by the sirens of the Ajax fleet serenaded Ron with a version of Da Doo Ron Ron with lyrics describing the more colourful things that happened on (and off) the water.  Race Officers are regularly blamed when things go wrong, occasionally harangued but how often are they serenaded by the fleet?


Overall Results


1          Athena             David Liddington             (SMSC)     (1,2,2,1,(4))        6 points


2          Amalthea         Roger Woods                  (SMSC)     ((11),3,1,2,3)      9 points


3          Guillemot        David Mayne                   (RHYC)     ((7),4,3,3,2)        12 points


4          Goosander      Ian Sharps/John Pack      (RHYC)     (4,5,4,7,(15))      20 points


5          Diomedes        Richard Beaman              (SMSC)     ((12),1,10,5,7)    23 points





James Skellorn

July 2008