Ajax Keelboat 2009 National Championship (13th-15th June)


In winning the 2009 regatta, Chris Brown maintained a remarkable record of winning the Ajax Championship in every decade since the boat was designed in 1966.  Fifteen boats from the home fleet based at Royal Harwich Yacht Club at Woolverstone were joined by two visitors, Kali (Charles Emmett) and Pintail (Richard Bown) from the west coast fleet based in St Mawes in Cornwall.  The fleet had three days racing in Dovercourt Bay in fine weather with one day of good breezes and two days of light variable winds.


A notable addition to the fleet was Dionysius (Philip Mayhew and Simon Quantrill) launched just in time for the regatta after extensive renovation.


The first race on Friday was sailed in a shifting westerly breeze.  The boats that went right and got the better breeze off the Dovercourt shore did best.  Storm Petrel (John Selby) led at the weather mark from Artemis (Malcolm Mackley), Thunderer (John Williams) and Mars (Chris Brown).  These three overtook Storm Petrel on the reach.  Up the beat Storm Petrel stayed in contention with Artemis and Mars.  On the run, the wind died and the whole fleet bunched up, reaching the leeward mark together.  Mars was on the inside and led up the beat from Sirius (Tony James), Teal (Bob Tate) and Guillemot (David Mayne).  After two slow reaches, Mars won from Guillemot, with Sirius third and Goosander (John Pack/Peter Richardson) fourth.


In the afternoon race, Guillemot led from Pegasus (David Kerridge), pursued by Mars and Artemis.  Mars came through to second on the reach.  The second reach turned into a run and the wind died again.  On the next leg, it was possible to lay the windward mark, and Guillemot still led from Mars and Pegasus.  The race was finished at the next mark, which lay between the remains of the original wind off the shore and the sea breeze, which brought much of the fleet up under spinnaker.  After an agonisingly slow finish, Guillemot won from Mars with Kali third.  After the first day, Mars and Guillemot each had a first and a second.


Saturday brought sun and steady force 3 southerly.  This time it was best to go left out to sea on the beat to get more tide.  At the weather mark Pegasus (James Skellorn) led with Avocet (Richard Chenery) overlapped inside her round the mark and Mars close behind.  Mars showed good speed downwind, passing Avocet on the first reach and Pegasus on the second.  On the second triangle Pegasus had a spinnaker tangle and Avocet went through to second.  Mars won comfortably. Guillemot went inshore on the first beat and was not able to recover, finishing 8th.


In the afternoon race, the pin end was favoured and at the weather mark, Mars led from Pegasus and Artemis.  The first reach was only just spinnakerable.  Artemis struggled with hers and fell back.  Thunderer carried hers and came through to third.  Mars had problems setting the kite and Pegasus took the lead.  On the next shy reach, Thunderer passed Mars, so Pegasus won from Thunderer and Mars.  Guillemot was fourth, so third place was good enough for Mars to win the championship after four races.


Sunday was fine with a light and fickle breeze.  Race Officer Doug Brown was eventually able to get the fleet away after a 90 minute delay on a windward/leeward course.  Many boats misjudged the start in the light breeze and strong tide and were pushed the wrong side of the committee boat. Avocet (helmed by Cedric Thomas of St Mawes) got away cleanly pursued by Artemis and Pegasus.  Mars recovered from a bad start to be in contention behind these three at the weather mark.  She did a gybe set to go left down the run and moved up to third.  On the second run, Mars moved up to second and pressed Avocet but could not quite catch her at the finish of a shortened race.


It was a most enjoyable and sociable regatta ably organised by Royal Harwich Class Captain, David Pearce.



1.         Mars (Chris Brown (1, 2, 1, (3), 2)                   6 points

2.         Guillemot (David Mayne) (2, 1, (8), 4, 5)          12 points

3.         Pegasus (Kerridge/Skellorn) ((15), 6, 3, 1, 4)   14 points

4.         Avocet (Sharps/Chenery) (6, (10), 2, 7, 1)       16 points