Ajax National Championships 2018 at St Mawes
A light southerly breeze greeted the fourteen entries including two visiting yachts from Royal Harwich Yacht Club: Polly Oliver, the 2017 national champion, and Telemon.
Race 1 - a clean start found Artemis, Persephone and Nemesis reach the windward mark first and a downwind scrap between Persephone and Nemesis let Artemis get some clear air and stretch away, Polly Oliver, Kali and Mary B completed the top spots.
Race 2 - Again Artemis had a clean start and stretched away into the lead, pushing the right hand side of the course, followed closely by Pintail, Polly Oliver and Telemon. Nemesis rounded the first leeward mark in the back markers and were forced left up the second beat, they pushed it to the limit, found some extra breeze and managed to round the windward mark in first place, a great tussle down the last run between them, Artemis and Pintail saw them take a well earned win, Artemis in second and Pintail third. Polly Oliver, Persephone and Kali rounded out the top six.
Race 3 - The breeze had picked up for the last race to a nice force 4 and there was now a slightly confused swell which was not lining up with the wind.
The start was not quite clean with a couple of boats over early including Persephone who had enjoyed the class captain in Redoubtable seeing an opportunity to cause a kerfuffle on the start line. The result was that Persephone started last off the line and pushed right on the course, rapidly catching up the fleet to fifth at the top mark, Artemis led once again with Mary B, Nemesis, Polly Oliver, Aeolus, and Telemon all in the mix. An early gybe from Persephone paid off and they moved up to second behind Artemis at the leeward mark.
Up the second beat and Artemis pushed right, Persephone tried to do something else - which didn't pay and Mary B managed to sneak through into second. On the final run Artemis extended away for their second bullet, another early gybe from Persephone paid off and saw them pass Mary B and Nemesis climbed up to fourth in front of Polly Oliver and Aeolus.
Overall - Artemis were sitting pretty on 4 points, Nemesis were second on 8 pts, and Persephone were on 9, all to play for but it doesn't look like the forecast is being kind after months of blue skies and nice force 2/3 we are set for plenty of breeze over the next two days!
Solid 25-30 kts base windspeed with gusts in the 40s, throughout the day forced a seven hour postponement just in case the wind died away and we could get a race or two in...
Unfortunately at 4pm we were still recording base above 25kts and gusts in the mid 30s so the Race Officer Neil Andrew made the hard decision to abandon for the day.
After a two hour postponement Neil Andrew and his race management team on board Melkin managed to get some racing underway to complete the series. The anemometer on Black Rock Beacon recorded everything from 10 kts all the way up to 36 kts - which was pretty fresh!
The course was laid with a windward mark under the lee of Pendennis Castle and the start line down by Vilt.
Six boats braved it to the start line and remarkably suffered no serious damage - a testament to the solidity of the class. With many of the rest of the fleet sailing from Castle Drive where none of them missed a shift and, I'm sure, many laughs were had at the expense of the sailors out on the water!
Race 4 - Another fantastic start by Artemis let them stretch away, Nemesis and Persephone tangled on the start line and both had to restart, At the windward mark the twin pole system on Artemis was really proving its worth without the necessity of putting a crew on the foredeck for the gybe and they seemlessly stretched away. The first run gave all the boats an idea of how testing the gybe was going to be and Mylor Riggers on Nemesis sailed some really great lines which saw some big surfs and exciting speeds on the approach to the leeward mark. At the end of the second beat Artemis was away and gone, cementing their first place for the series.
Mary B had some spectacular broaches while attempting their gybe, Persephone decided to have a relaxing run, goose winged the jib, watched the drama unfold, sailed straight to the leeward mark and finish to claim second. Mary B managed to get the mast back above the boat and held on for third, Nemesis was fourth, The light weight crew on Kali did brilliantly to come through in fifth and Telemon with a combined crew age of 195 completed the course in sixth.
Race 5 - Artemis once again nailed the start, shutting out Persephone who by now was getting dizzy with the amount of times she had done circles at the starts. The rest of the fleet sorted the placings out in the ridiculous conditions, coping with violent gusts and 30 degree shifts which made the sailing taxing in the extreme. Artemis once again sailing magnificently in the conditions led the fleet.
Persephone, Mary B and Nemesis were all pretty close, Mary B had decided enough was enough with the spinnaker and were white sailing from now on, but they were going fast up the beats. Persephone had decided enough was enough with gybing but were flying the kite with a port pole down the vast majority of the run. Nemesis were going for it sailing some great angles and making big gains with a gybe in some big conditions. At the leeward mark Artemis was once again away and gone with great spinnaker work, Persephone was second Mary B third and Nemesis fourth.
On the last beat Mary B pushed hard left while the rest of the fleet were mainly right and for a while they looked really good, but at the top it all evened out and places remained as at the leeward mark. The last run saw Nemesis again sail some great angles and catch some lovely waves to over take Mary B and get within half a boat length of passing Persephone, but the Leeward mark was there, Persephone had the inside and managed to finish marginally ahead of Nemesis. At this point first, second and third places were confirmed so the race officer canned it for the day and the series and we all headed home.
Huge congratulations to Artemis - only counting first places - fantastically sailed.