The Ajax East Coast Championships were held over the weekend of the 26th and 27th June in wonderful conditions with steady winds and sun. As always with this fleet of keel-boats the racing was extremely close and final conditions were not decided until the last race of a four race series – two on the Saturday and two on the Sunday.
Due to social commitments several of the fleet were unable to make the Championships but the ten boats that did enter were rewarded with very well set courses out in Dovercourt Bay set by Doug Brown, the Race Officer.
Two races were held on Saturday in a very steady force 3 from the South.
Race 1 saw confusion at the start with Thunderer and Storm Petrel forced over the line early, by Telamon, and thus having to return to restart. This effectively put an end to Storm Petrel’s race. The race was won by Avocet who passed Telamon on the second beat and held position from there. In the closing stages of the race, Thunderer caught up the leaders and was in a position to challenge Telamon at the final leeward mark but was unable to break through.
Race 2 saw a clean start for the whole of the fleet with Telamon and Avocet making the early running. Telamon got well away from the fleet but Thunderer made up distance on the first reach of the last lap and, gybing inside Avocet at the mark, were able to hold the overlap all the way to the leeward mark, to round just ahead. Avocet was forced to the outside during this manoeuvre and in some disarray was passed by Goosander just before the line.
Sunday produced a force 2 from the West on a lovely sunny day. The wind off the land was unsteady and variable.
Race 3 produced a heavy Starboard end bias as the wind flicked right just before the start. This led to congestion at the committee boat end with at least one boat shut out at the start. Goosander made the early running and built a significant lead of about 100 yards until sailing into a hole on the right side of the course. This dropped her to fifth. Large gains and losses were frequent as the breeze flicked left and right. Avocet and Telamon made better decisions than the rest of the fleet and finished first and second with Thunderer third again after Guillemot lost her spinnaker halyard up the mast, having been in a comfortable third place. Kelvin Douglas gamely climbed the mast between races and retrieved the halyard and was presented with a bottle of wine by his helmsman at the prize giving.
Race 4 saw a clean start on a square line. Half the fleet went left and half went right with a large gap between. The ‘left handers’ got a good header and tacked back and looked to be crossing the others easily only to see a huge right hand lift helping those on the right. Avocet and Telamon were in the right place again and rounded comfortably ahead.
Going down the final run Avocet held a small lead from Telamon and Thunderer. Telemon with a 2nd, 1st and 2nd knew that they had to pull something out of the bag to beat Avocet’s 1st, 4th and 1st and therefore attacked Avocet aggressively at the leeward mark. This manoeuvre failed amidst a great deal of shouting and gesticulating, allowing Avocet to hold on for a win and well deserved overall victory.
Five boats will make the 400 mile trip to Falmouth to join the other half of the fleet and try to win the National Championships on 30 July.
1st Avocet: Richard Chenery, Doug Sharps, Michael Archer.
2nd Telamon: Ian Sharps, Sam Sutton, Tony Jarman.
3rd Thunderer: John Williams, Hugh Williams, Richard Williams.
4th Guillemot: David Mayne, Kelvin Douglas, Tim Hunt.