Ajax 23 East Coast Championships 21 and 22 June 2014 Race Report by James Skellorn


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Ajax 23 Keelboat East Coast Championships 2014 Race Report 


By James Skellorn 

Royal Harwich Yacht Club hosted the East Coast Championship for Ajaxes in fine weather for two days’ racing in Dovercourt bay off Harwich harbour.

Saturday brought a light shifting breeze off the land.  Eleven boats competed.  In the first race, Telamon (Gordon Sutton), Thunderer (John Williams), Polly Oliver (Mike Clayton) and Pegasus (David Kerridge) headed in-shore to the right and seemed to be doing better.  Puffin (David Pearce), Prometheus (Tim Archer) and Teal (Bob Tate) went left out to sea.  However, a hole in the wind just short of the weather mark meant that Prometheus led at the mark from Puffin.  At the leeward mark, Puffin was through to the lead with Thunderer second and Prometheus third.  Puffin built a significant lead up the second beat at which point the wind dropped.  This time the boats who went in-shore picked up the breeze and the race was finished at the weather mark.  Puffin won from Guillemot and Polly Oliver.

Race 2 on an Olympic course produced another beat in a shifty breeze.  Pegasus went up the middle and led from Puffin and Teal.  Down the reaches Teal got past Puffin.  A hole in the wind approaching the leeward mark decided the race.  Pegasus crept through it and got away.  Behind her the fleet bunched up.  Widgeon got through to finish second with Teal third and Puffin fourth.

Race 3 was on the Olympic course again.  The wind breezed up a little but shifted right just before the start of the race so the fleet could lay the weather mark.  It shifted back a little but the first reach became a run and the second reach a close fetch and the race became a procession. Thunderer led at the first mark from Polly Oliver and Telamon and that was how it finished.

Overnight, Puffin led on points from Guillemot and Polly Oliver.

Sunday started in a flat calm but by 9.30am the race committee reported a steady breeze off the sea and the fleet set off to find an 8 knot easterly breeze. 

Race 4 was sailed on an Olympic course.  Most of the fleet made a long starboard tack with the tide under them from the line.  Pegasus led at the weather mark from Guillemot (David Mayne), Thunderer and Polly Oliver.  On the run, Pegasus alone jibed off to the right while the rest of the fleet held out to sea.  However, at the finish she will still ahead and won from Guillemot and Thunderer.

For the fifth race, the course changed to windward/leeward.  A tight points situation meant that whoever won the last race out of the top four boats would win overall.  At the weather mark Thunderer led from Pegasus and Polly OliverPolly Oliver got past Pegasus on the run.  On the second beat the leading three boats all went to the right, out to sea, and found a header lifting them away from the rest of the fleet.  Polly Oliver and Thunderer arrived at the windward mark together.  Once again Polly Oliver went right, Thunderer went left and Polly Oliver led at the bottom mark to win from Thunderer and Pegasus.

Mike Clayton and Bob Portway’s win in Polly Oliver was all the more impressive because Polly Oliver had a large tree fall on her in one of the storms in the winter so she needed a new rig and hull repairs. She had only been launched on the Friday before the championship.  However, she had consistent results across both days whereas everybody else had a good day and a bad day. 

Thanks to Simon Quantrill who organised an excellent championships as class captain and to Doug Brown and his team for running the racing very efficiently in tricky conditions.
1.         Polly Oliver (Mike Clayton/Bob Portway)                 10 points
2.         Thunderer (John Williams)                                        12 points
3.         Pegasus (David Kerridge/James Skellorn)               13 points
4.         Guillemot (David Mayne/Kelvin Douglas/Tim Hunt) 13 points