Ajax Class Report for 2011 Handbook
I have to say that it does not feel right at all to be writing my report with the sun beating down & with a temperature of 24o outside! As you may have guessed, I am not in Cornwall but have in fact fled the winter weather for the sunnier & warmer shores of Abu Dhabi! Normally I am putting pen to paper with the rain hammering down, wrapped up in about 20 layers remembering longingly those lovely warm summer sails. Not so this year!!!!!
Looking back over this season my highlight has to be the National Championships in July. We made the brave decision this year to completely change the race format and it was a real worry as to how it would both be received and work out! More to follow....
Once again turnouts were disappointingly low at the beginning of the season which, considering the wonderful weather we had in May & June was a real shame. It was great to see Roger & Claire Wood return to the fleet having decided to leave the Marieholms and come back to the Ajax fleet. I could tell at the beginning of the season we would be in for some really good close racing as a class and I was not disappointed!
The spring points series (6th May – 27th June) was dominated by Roger & Claire in Amalthea with 9 wins out of 10 races, not bad! In second place was Aquila sailed by me with father Cedric in Troy in third.
Turnouts started to improve by the end of June in time for the start of the summer series (1st July – 23rd Sept). The summer Sunday points series was won by the ever improving Mike Evans in Kittiwake. Mike and his crew of co-owner Keith Hughes and Pete Francis have really come together as a team and have improved immensely during the year. It just goes to show what a difference having regular crew and turning out for every race can make! In second place was Cedric in Troy with Kim in Ajax in third.
The summer Thursdays saw some excellent races with up to 13 boats appearing on the start line. It was a two horse race for 1st & 2nd place overall between Amalthea & Aeolus with Roger and Claire in Amalthea claiming 1st place over John & Richard in Aeolus with Dudley Kennett in 3rd place.
The final series was the autumn points, which was previously the October pursuit series. The committee decided to change the format and keep class racing going until the end of the season to try & encourage more boats to keep racing through October. Four boats braved the cooler weather to race the 4 race series with Kittiwake taking 1st place overall with Amalthea in 2nd place, Victory in 3rd and Troy in 4th.
May Day Cup Race
Only two boats braved the strong winds which welcomed the start the first race of the season. Amalthea laid down the gauntlet for the rest of the fleet winning comfortably over Cedric in Troy.
Frankie Peters Series
A return to the old three race format saw 5 boats take part in the series at the end of May. Strong winds again were the main feature of the first day which saw Aquila take first blood in the first race over Amalthea with Kittiwake in third. It has to be mentioned however that Roger did manage to get 2nd place despite losing wife Claire over the side or, should I say under the boom & out to leeward after a tack which saw them then get knocked over by a gust and Claire lose her footing whilst trying to get up to the high side. Claire sustained some nasty bruising and a serious knock to her hand which meant she was not able to race for the rest of the weekend. In the afternoon race Aquila (who went 4 up & had a definite weight advantage) managed to take 1st place again over Roger in Amalthea with Cedric in 3rd. The final race on Sunday morning saw a reversal of Thomas fortunes with Cedric taking the gun in Troy over daughter Lindsey in Aquila with Kittiwake in third.
Overall results for the series – 1st Aquila (1,1,2), 2nd Amalthea (2,2,5), 3rd Troy (6,4,1).
The Class had a disappointing start to the regatta season with no boats turning out for either Loe Beach or Point and Penpol Regattas. I hope we can make a better showing next year as both are usually superb events.
Only one boat made it across the river with Richard and John winning the PY Yachts Class much to the annoyance of the other entrants who were not impressed to be beaten by an Ajax!
St. Mawes Town Regatta
Six boats turned out for the first of our local regattas and for what was to be a battle royal between Aeolus and Amalthea. I was crewing on Troy for Cedric and was able to watch the battle up ahead between the two boats with places changing all the time with never more than 50 yards between them. I am sure both boats will agree it was a cracking race with Aeolus winning the battle to take 1st place with Amalthea in 2nd and Troy in 3rd.
St. Mawes Social Club Regatta
A reasonable turnout with 5 boats on the start line. David Liddington in Athena took the gun over Amalthea, with a guest appearance from Oliver Edwards helming Kali taking 3rd place.
One of my favourite regattas not only for the entertainment of racing in and out of the moorings but also for the superb hospitality that awaits us on the shore after racing. An excellent turnout of 13 boats was met by very light winds with Lindsey and her mixed crew of a two and a half year old (Evie Howard), a hired in tactician, David Mathewson and ringer Sarah Howard in Aquila took advantage of a clear start and led the fleet out of the river towards Lugo. Unfortunately as the wind lessened and the concentration of those onboard wavered, the following pack closed and Richard & Jeannie Bown (the light wind demons!) took the lead. It was a long painful sail around the first round and as we approached the moorings to go back up to the turning mark the wind died to almost nothing and only 5 of the 13 boats managed to fight their way up the river and finish. Richard Bown managed to hold onto his lead to win with Amalthea coming in 2nd and Kali in 3rd.
Seven boats made the journey around to Portscatho with four also taking part in the passage race. There was some confusion over the turning mark which led to only two boats completing the course with Ajax and Kim winning the passage race over Achilles in 2nd place. The regatta race itself was very short and after squeezing Amalthea out at the start Ajax took an early lead which they held to the finish to win. Amalthea had to drop her spinnaker and re round through the starting line after being squeezed out by Ajax, she then fought her way back from last place to finish in 2nd place with David Liddington in Athena in third.
Once again the final regatta weekend of the season in September consisted of the Philleigh Pot and the Victory Cups.
Philleigh Pot – A great turnout of 10 boats. Aeolus took an early lead and led the pack around the whole course to finish first with Samaki, last year’s winner finishing in second place and Amalthea in third. As usual a great evening followed at the Roseland Inn, Philleigh, sponsors of the event.
Victory Cups – Another good turnout of 9 boats were met with light winds and what was to be a long race. Aeolus, this time helmed by John Howard took an early lead and led for the entire race but Amalthea closed up during the last part of the race but John held them off to win with Amalthea in 2nd place and Pintail in 3rd.
National Championships – 23rd – 25th July
St. Mawes played host to this year’s Nationals and I have to say, I was extremely anxious in the run up to and, during the event. Having, along with the class, made the decision to change to an 8 race series I was anxious that all should run smoothly and that everyone would enjoy the new format. Thankfully I need not have worried as, judging by the feedback I have received, it was a unanimous success! With a fantastic entry of 23 boats it was always going to be a cracking few days racing but I don’t think any of us could have imagined just how close it would be! We were extremely lucky to have Neil Andrew as our Race Officer again and he set some superb courses all of which came within about +/-5 minutes of the 1 hour target race time, not an easy task to achieve! Running an event like this is not a one man (or lady!) job and I would like to thank all those who helped, especially Ron & Liz Maunder for supplying us with a committee boat and for being the best race team we could ask for and also the lovely Ron Medlyn for his assistance. A huge thank-you also to all those who ran the mark rib over the three days, they were kept very busy and also to the boys on the safety boats. It was a real team effort and without all of these people it would not have been the success it was. Not all of the fun was had on the water and we enjoyed two excellent social events, a BBQ at Messack and a supper in the Sailing Club. I have decided not to write about the actual racing this year but instead include in James Skellorn’s write up on the event. Due to the success of the event the East Coast Fleet are going to discuss changing to the same format for when they host the Nationals in 2011.
Race Officer Neil Andrew provided an exciting series of eight short races over three days and the championship was decided on the short last beat of the last race.
produced bright sun and a moderate offshore breeze which varied a lot in
strength and direction. In the first
race, St Mawes Class Captain (and event organiser) Lindsey Thomas in
In the second race, left was best again an Samaki (Alan Williams) led from Pegasus (David Kerridge), Aeolus (John Howard), Aquila, Athena, Atalanta (Alex Davey) and Guillemot (David Mayne). There was much place changing until the run when Guillemot and Pegasus went right, the others went left and these two were first and second from Aquila.
In the third race, Athena made the most of a port bias on the line and a big wind shift at the start to tack onto port and take a commanding lead from Pintail (Richard Bown), Orion (Jonathan Colley) and Pegasus. Aeolus got past these three to take second place from Pintail and Pegasus.
Saturday was overcast and a moderate south-westerly breeze gave a change of conditions. There seemed to be a good breeze to the left but the right-hand side of the beat by the Helford was better. Atalanta led at the weather mark from Amalthea and Teal (Bob Tate). Atalanta held off Amalthea in a close finish and Guillemot worked her way through to third. Saturday’s courses were all windward/leeward.
In the second race, Amalthea led from Pegasus and Thunderer (John Williams) at the weather mark, with Atalanta fourth. Amalthea led all the way, but the other three swapped places all the way to the finish. Thunderer was second from Pegasus and Atalanta.
In the third race, Athena emerged from two poorer races to lead narrowly from Pegasus at the weather mark, with Thunderer third. Thunderer passed Pegasus on the run. On the beat, Amalthea was lifted above the leaders on the long port tack towards the shore and got to second behind Athena. Pegasus was third as Thunderer faded on the last beat.
After two days of quick fire racing, Athena had the narrowest lead over Amalthea with Pegasus third and Atalanta fourth.
conditions were a repeat of Friday, bright sun and an offshore breeze. In race 7,
1. Athena (David Liddington)
2. Amalthea (Roger Wood)
4. Guillemot (David Mayne) RHYC 4, (12), (8), 1, 4, 6, 2, 1 : 23 points
Falmouth Week – 8th – 14th August
Unfortunately the annual Angela Beaman fun race was cancelled for the second year running due to bad weather. You will have to wait another year to try & rob Aquila of her crown!!!
Surpassing the Nationals with an entry of 24 boats we were in for a week of close racing. With one day cancelled due to strong winds a total of 8 races were sailed in near perfect conditions on most days. We were given some fantastic windward/leeward courses but we did have a particularly sadistic Race Officer who, on most days, decided that placing the windward mark under the Trefusis shore would be great fun! For him maybe! David Liddington stamped his mark early on in the week but he had some tough competition and did not have everything his own way. Once again I am going to include James Skellorn and John Howard’s write up of the week.
Falmouth Week 2010—Ajax Class
The 24 strong Ajax keelboat class produced some of the most competitive racing in Falmouth Week. The national championships two weeks earlier had shown the strength of the St Mawes fleet. Although there were three boats visiting from the east coast, St Mawes boats took the first five places. The wind stayed northwest almost all the time, and built slowly from 10 knots to nearly 20 knots by the end of the week.
Crews in contention included David Liddington (Athena), whose son Paul returned from Australia to crew for him, Roger and Clare Wood (Amalthea), who won the week two years ago and were runners up in the championship, David Mathewson returning to the helm of Ajax, John Howard and Richard Beaman (Aeolus), eager to improve on a disappointing result in the championship and Alan Williams (Samaki), who gave Athena and Aeolus a run for their money last year.
In the Helford Race, Aeolus led around the weather mark from Athena. On the run, Thunderer (John Williams) passed them both, but fell back on the beat. A tricky finish around Trefusis and then into Falmouth harbour pushed Athena back to sixth, and enabled Ajax to take second behind Aeolus. Pegasus (David Kerridge and James Skellorn) was third.
On Monday the Mylor race produced the only southwesterly breeze. The first beat was from Waterloo to Falmouth dock. It was essential to tack along the Trefusis bank. Aeolus led Athena, but Athena passed her on the beat from Bohella to Headland. Athena won from Aeolus, Samaki was third and Amalthea fourth. Tuesday morning brought a fresh westerly, rain and poor visibility and racing was cancelled.
Two races were held on Wednesday in a 10 knot NW breeze. Firstly a short windward/leeward race for the Restronguet race. From a start at Carricknath, Aeolus led from Athena, with Pegasus in pursuit. On the run Athena passed Aeolus and on the approach to Zone, Pegasus passed them both. On the short beat to Carricknath Aeolus got her nose in front of Athena, but when Pegasus tacked across to cover both boats, Aeolus got the worst of it and dropped back to third behind Athena.
In the second race for Falmouth Town, Ajax correctly chose the Pendennis shore to lead from Athena with Pintail (Richard Bown), Aeolus and Pegasus in pursuit. Around the leeward mark, Athena led the beat up the St Mawes shore with Ajax and Pegasus scrapping for second. They were pressed by Samaki, and Teal and Aquila made big gains. However, Pegasus and Aquila had misread the course, putting Pegasus back to sixth and causing Aquila to retire. Another finish in the fickle breezes around Trefusis and Falmouth harbour saw Athena win from Samaki, with Ajax third and Amalthea fourth.
Thursday’s Royal Cornwall race saw an increase in the wind. With the ebb still running, frenetic short tacking up the St Mawes shore was required. Athena did a turn for a foul on Amalthea, and Ajax got the best of the short tacking, rounding ahead of Aeolus and Athena. Athena passed the other two downwind to take the lead. At the top of the second beat, Athena opened up a 250m lead on Ajax and Aeolus, and despite a close battle for second and third, this was how it finished, with Thunderer coming through to fourth at the finish.
Out into the bay for two windward/leeward races on Friday in a fresh norwesterly, Aeolus led around the windward mark from Amalthea, who went into the lead on the run. Aeolus covered Athena carefully. After an incident between them at the last windward mark, Athena took a penalty turn, allowing Samaki into third place. Orion (Jonathan Colley) had her best race, rounding the windward mark with Athena on the second lap, and holding on for sixth place.
In the second race, Athena made a perfect committee boat start and took advantage of a late shift to the right, taking a big lead which gave her a comfortable race win and meant she had won the regatta. Behind her Amalthea went hard left and was second at the weather mark, with Samaki third. Aquila (Lindsey Thomas) at last began to show some form to take a hard won fourth place in a big breeze despite having a light crew. Overall, Aeolus had her nose in front for second place, but there was all to play for between Amalthea, Ajax and Samaki for third place.
Saturday’s Flushing race saw the fleet in the Roads once again. Beating against the ebb, the fleet went up the Pendennis shore, but Amalthea picked the best line, staying clear of Falmouth dock and Trefusis bank, and took a big lead which she held to the finish. Aeolus had a recall but recovered well. Ajax seemed to be doing best on the Pendennis shore, but Aquila was second at the weather mark. These three battled with Athena (with Paul Liddington helming, now the week had been won) for second place, and Aeolus was second, Ajax third and Athena fourth.
In addition to winning the Ajax class, David Liddington and his crew were awarded the West Briton Trophy and the Falmouth Week Trophy for yacht of the week—well-deserved recognition for consistently winning against tough competition.
1. Athena David Liddington (6), 1, 2, 1, 1, 4, 1, (4)—10 points
2. Aeolus John Howard and Richard Beaman 1, 2, 3, (6), 3, 2, (6), 2—13 points
3. Amalthea Roger and Clare Wood (12), 4, 4, 4, (6), 1, 2, 1—16 points
4. Ajax David Mathewson 2, (8), (5), 3, 2, 5, 5, 3—20 points
Unfortunately no boats made the trip up to Fowey this year, hopefully this can be rectified in 2011.
Two boats have changed hands so far this year. It was with great sadness that we heard that Hilary Newton was selling Redoutable. Thankfully Hilary was able to find a buyer who I know is going to turn out as regularly as he can and is a well known figure in the Sailing Club, Hereward Tresidder. Hereward previously raced in the St. Mawes One Design Class which has sadly seen a decline in the last few years. Wanting to find a competitive one design fleet to join there really was only one option, the Ajax Class. After crewing for me in Falmouth Week Hereward was sold on the boats and purchased Redoutable at the end of August. I am sure he is going to be a great addition to the fleet. Hilary is thankfully keen to stay involved with the fleet and if anyone is ever short of crew, please call her!
The other boat to change hands was Fringila who has been owned by the Snell family for over 15 years. Not a frequent racer Fringila has been bought by Paul & Elaine Davey who are planning to do her up over the winter
To date I believe there are still two boats for sale but, with several people showing interest in the class hopefully they will be sold fairly soon.
The Class really is on a high at the moment and we have enjoyed both some excellent racing this year and also some wonderful social events. I have received comments from several other fleets up and down the river as to how high the standard of racing is in the Ajax Class at the moment.
I may not be with you for the start of the season next year but I am going to stay on as Class Captain for now. If anyone has any enquiries regarding the Class or would like to find out about crewing or buying a boat, please contact either myself via email – firstname.lastname@example.org or John Howard who is the SW secretary on email@example.com
I look forward to seeing you on the water at some point during the season. Have fun and enjoy your sailing.