Ajax 23 National Championships 2014
Falmouth Bay 25-27 July 2014
21 boats entered the championship with 5 boats from the East Coast fleet from Royal Harwich Yacht and 16 from the host club St Mawe Sailing Club.
The weather in Falmouth had been very hot and windless for the week before the championships and similar weather was promised for the weekend.
Race Officer Neil Andrew asked the fleet to stay on their moorings until he called them. He headed out to Black Rock and then called the fleet out at about 10am. He had been encouraged by the sight of the 6 metre fleet managing a race which started at 9am but as the Ajax’s sailed out past Black Rock they were greeted by the sight of the 6 metre fleet abandoning their race. There was a certain amount of swimming from boats and then Neil Andrew moved the fleet into the harbour and after most of the fleet were towed to Vilt a race was started at about 1pm with the windward mark near Governor.
The fleet split into two between those who made for the St Mawes shore and those who headed for Falmouth. Amalthea and Artemis lead on the St Mawes side and Nemesis, Mary B and Dionysius led on the Falmouth side. A flat spot in the wind at the point on the St Mawes’ side stranded most boats who had picked that shore. Nemesis, Mary B and Dionysius were the first boats round the mark with Amalthea pursuing.
At the leaward mark, the leading boats went left again towards the St Mawes shore. This time the wind held good and at the weather mark Amalthea lead from Artemis and Pegasus in a failing breeze. Behind them most of the fleet seemed to arrive at the weather mark together. A starboard rounding against the tide in a light breezed tested many. The first 3 boats held their places with Nemesis 4th and Mary B 5th.
The fleet then moved up the harbour to Mylor to catch a steadier breeze. On a sausage triangle course, local knowledge let many boats to tack on to port after the start and then sail close up the Mylor shore to the weather mark which was near Penarrow. Athena led from Artemus with Fringilla, Pintail, Aeolus and Amalthea chasing. The wind stayed steady and that was the finishing order. The fleet enjoyed a barbeque hosted by the Thomas family at Messack in the evening.
Saturday produced a calm morning and once again the fleet delayed leaving moorings. In due course they were summoned out to the committee south of Pendennis. The wind was fitful and at various times between 11am and 2.30pm it blew from all quarters. After a rain shower the sun came out and eventually just after 2.30pm a very patient race officer was rewarded with a solid north westerly breeze of about 8 knots.
In race 3, the fleet got away at the second attempt. Aeolus went hard left and had a big lead approaching the windward mark which was close to the shore at Gyllingvase but the usual contrary winds under the shore at the mark meant her lead was cut and she was pursued down the run by Aquila, Fringilla, Mary B and Amalthea.
Down the run Aquila took the lead but on the second beat Mary B played the shifts better to gain a clear lead. Behind her was very close between the pursuing group. Mary B came home first to win the St Mawes Town Regatta Cup. Fringilla was second, followed by Amalthea, Aeolus and Aquila and Teal who tied for 5th place.
Race 4 was also a windward leeeward course. A port biased line meant that Athena, Fringilla and Pegasus tacked onto port straight after the start. Athena and Fringilla continued right. Pegasus went left halfway up the beat and at the mark Athena led from Fringilla and Pegasus with Teal 4th. It stayed like until the last run when Athena and Fringilla went left and Pegasus went right. Athena won with Pegasus 2nd and Fringilla 3rd.
On Saturday night St Mawes Sailing Club hosted a splendid dinner for the Ajax Fleet. At that point only four races out of the six scheduled had been completed and the points situation was very open with most of the leading contenders having a mixture of good races and bad. With the promise of a good breeze on Sunday morning, the race officer proposed to run three races with the first starting at 10.30am.
Sunday morning produced the expected north or north westerly breeze. With the wind blowing off the land the beats proved very testing. In race 5 a port biased line left the boats at the pin end unable to cross the line, whereas those who were started by the committee boat were well placed. Artemis led at the weather mark from Aeolus and Fringilla. Every beat was very tricky with shifts and wind streaks testing the most experienced. Aeolus got through to win from Fringilla with Artemis 3rd and Amalthea 4th. Fringilla looked well placed to retain the championship for Alex Davey as he had only one result out of the top three places at that point.
In race 6 the wind shifted to give a starboard bias to the line and then shifted back seconds after the start so those who could tack on to port early did so and formed the leading group. Amalthea won from Aeolus with Athena 3rd and Artemis 4th. Fringilla had a bad race and finished 13th. This left the points interestingly poised with any of the top five boats able to win the championship if they could win the last race.
For the 7th race, the race officers set a sausage and triangle course. After the usual tricky beat, Pintail led from Osprey with Aeolus, Athena and Artemis in hot pursuit and Amalthea and Fringilla some way back. At the top of the second beat, Pintail still led but was pressed by Athena who got inside her at the gybe mark and then Osprey and Aeolus got by as well so Athena won the race from Osprey with Aeolus 3rd and Pintail 4th.
Athena won the championship by four points from Amalthea. Amalthea took second place from Aeolus on count back with Artemis one point behind and Fringilla 5th.