EAST COAST AJAX CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012
(30th June/1st July)
Fifteen boats from Royal Harwich Yacht Club entered, promising a weekend of close racing in Dovercourt Bay. Amongst the competitors were Will Patten and his sons who had purchased Indefatigable only two weeks before the championship, so this was their first Ajax event.
A fresh South-westerly (19 knots gusting 25) greeted competitors. After careful thought Race Officer, Doug Brown, set a series of short windward/leeward courses, and thirteen boats came to the line.
Up the first beat, Mandalay (Peter Nicholls), Polly Oliver (Mike Clayton) and Merlin (Jim Scorer) led the way. Polly Oliver lost her spinnaker halyard up the mast on the second run, so Merlin took second place and Polly Oliver held on for third place. Indefatigable and Pegasus (David Kerridge) tied for fourth place.
In the second race, Merlin led early on chased by Thunderer (John Williams) and Telamon (Gordon Sutton). Thunderer won from Merlin with Telamon third.
In race 3 Polly Oliver took full advantage of the pin end bias and had a clear lead at the weather mark from Thunderer, Pegasus and Indefatigable. Polly Oliver was able to hold off the chasing pack downwind despite not having a spinnaker, and Indefatigable narrowly took second from Thunderer and Pegasus. By the third race the fleet was reduced to ten through gear failure and other mishaps.
Overnight, the points situation was very close, with Polly Oliver, Thunderer, and Merlin all on 10 pints, Indefatigable on 10.5 points and Mandalay on 13 points.
The forecast for Sunday was for the wind to be slightly less strong and more westerly. Actually the wind was very nearly the same strength but the waves were slightly smaller as the wind was more off the land.
Fourteen boats came to the line. The committee boat end was slightly favoured which caused some congestion, but the fleet got away cleanly. The wind shifts were difficult to understand as boats that went extreme left or right did better than those that went up the middle.
Indefatigable won from Polly Oliver with Pegasus in third.
The second race of the day brought a slight change in wind direction, more from the South. The start was clean. At the windward mark, Thunderer misjudged the adverse tide and hit the mark necessitating a 360 turn which lost two places. Polly Oliver won again from Indefatigable with Mandalay in third.
There was a heavy committee boat end bias at the start of the third race. There was a lot of barging and shouting and the inevitable general recall. The second attempt resulted in another general recall. The Race officer moved the pin end buoy to windward and raised the I flag for the “Round the ends rule”. This had the desired result and there was a clean start at the third attempt.
Five minutes into the beat, there was a load bang on Thunderer and the jib fell halfway down forcing retirement.
There had been considerable attrition by this time and only nine boats finished the last race.
Polly Oliver won again, this time from Mandalay then Indefatigable.
This gave the Championship to Polly Oliver from Indefatigable.
As mentioned previously this was Will and Olly Patten’s first ever race in Indefatigable and this was a remarkable performance.
Mike Clayton and Bob Portway have only done one season in Polly Oliver and so the “new boys” showed the veterans how it should be done.
Well done to them all.
1st Polly Oliver Mike Clayton/Bob Portway 8 points
2nd Indefatigable Will & Olly Patten 12
3rd Mandalay Peter Nicholls 18
4th Thunderer John Williams 19
5th Telamon Gordon Sutton 26