Ajax SW area championships 2019
July 26th -28th
A reasonably steady Force 4 SW breeze greeted the 9 competitors for the South West championships. Race officer Neil Andrew and his fantastic crew on the committee boat of John and Liz Maunder ably assisted by octogenarian and stalwart of the class Cedric Thomas complete with a never-ending supply of werthers originals managed to get the racing underway after a number of unexpected shipping movements. The first race got underway with Nemesis leading the charge and Pintail and Artemis right up there in the mix but being the right side of a shift at the windward mark let Polyphemus leapfrog a few places and close up to the leaders. The first run was again close with the ability to hook into the correct wind lanes critical to gaining places. As the second beat drew to a close Polyphemus appeared to have a good turn of boat speed and managed to squeeze past Nemesis to take the win, Nemesis followed and Artemis, the 2018 national champion, managed to over-take Pintail for third.
Nemesis were far too keen at the start and were over early, Polyphemus thought they were (but weren’t – as it turned out) and both restarted. Artemis had by now extended well to the left of the course and away from the fleet, everyone else was playing the shifts as best they could but Artemis was not going to be caught and sailed faultlessly to take the win. Mary B had begun to shake off the teething troubles of only being rigged for 24 hours and was progressively getting quicker through the day. Polyphemus managed to claw her way back to 2nd and Nemesis to 3rd.
Once again, a great start let Artemis and Nemesis stretch away but some inspired sailing from Mary B who at times were sailing in their own private wind had them pass Nemesis and move comfortably into 2nd, only to be overhauled on the gybe mark of the last run by Nemesis. Achilles, Vim and Aeolus were all having moments of glory with the racing being incredibly tight mid fleet. In the end Polyphemus managed to climb to 4th which left the points score at the end of day 1 with Artemis 1st on 5 points, Polyphemus and Nemesis joint 2nd on 7 points and Mary B 4th on 12 points. All to play for on Day 2!
Day 2 dawned and the wind had shifted up to the NW so the fleet and the race officer knew there were going to be some big shifts on the course with the wind funnelling down the the valleys behind Falmouth’s beaches. The race got away with leading protagonists Artemis and Nemesis winning the pin end of the line and heading over to the left while Polyphemus, who had an abysmal start ducked everyone and headed off on the right. Everyone played the shifts up the beat as best they could but Polyphemus came out on top by the windward mark closely followed by Nemesis, Artemis, Pintail and Aeolus who were finding some really good boatspeed. On the run Polyphemus extended away but the battle behind was close fought, the second beat saw Artemis head to the right hand extremities of the course, Nemesis chose to cover them while Polyphemus decided they were mad and stuck to playing the shifts in the middle. Meanwhile Mary B, Pintail and Achilles were also doing well up the middle and when all boats converged at the last windward mark Polyphemus were well ahead, Mary B had moved into 2nd closely followed by Pintail and Nemesis only managed to claw back to 4th with Achilles and Artemis close behind, these places were largely held to the finish.
Another bunfight at the committee boat end of the line saw a cluster of boats having moments but a clear start and once again Polyphemus went right on the favoured shift and managed to make good progress through the fleet, Artemis, Mary B and Nemesis also came out pretty well once the shifty chaos at the top end of the beat had ironed itself out. Artemis was now determined to keep Nemesis behind her and return the favour from the race before but Polyphemus was well ahead. Mary B was showing great pace uphill and manged to pass Nemesis to take third. Vim had a decent race and took 5th while unfortunately Amalthea had a spinnaker halyard that got stuck at the top of the mast and were forced to retire for the day.
A clear start saw the fleet get away with Artemis, Nemesis and Polyphemus all pushing right however after about 200m of the beat a vicious right hand shift of about 60° saw all three of them crash tack to the extent where the crew of Aeolus were convinced that Polyphemus’ helm was not getting back into the boat as he was fully immersed to leeward, however Nemesis recovered quickest of all and managed to take the lead. Aeolus were sailing a fantastic race and had good speed in all directions. Polyphemus had managed to pass Artemis and were hunting down Nemesis to the best of their ability. On the final run Polyphemus had managed to find some nice lanes of breeze and were catching eventually drawing level at the leeward mark but on the outside for the short reach to the finish line. Nemesis dropped their kite early and aimed at the top of the finish line while Polyphemus kept theirs flying and bore away to the committee boat, Nemesis just managed to hold on and take their first bullet of the championships by about half a boat length, a great race. Aeolus held onto 3rd well ahead of Artemis in 4th and Vim in 5th.
Sunday July 28th
A lighter force 2/3 north westerly was the order of the day for the final day of the championships which meant a continuation of the previous days shifts and holes with plenty of opportunity to make gains and even greater chances to make losses. Polyphemus were leading the series but some good results for Artemis and Nemesis would close everything up, so it was close at the top.
A decent start for all of the leaders had Polyphemus in a great position half way up the beat however Artemis caught some lovely shifts only for Polyphemus to pick a late leftie and come screaming in at the top mark almost level, Artemis edged past on the run with Nemesis following round at the leeward mark, Polyphemus thought there was breeze on the left after the leeward mark and tacked away from Artemis looking for the new breeze and this was a mistake from which she wouldn’t recover. Pintail made some great gains and moved from 4th up to 2nd, Nemesis held on to 3rd and Polyphemus dropped down to 4th. This meant it was all on for the last race of the series as Polyphemus had a one point lead but Artemis were snapping at their heels. The final race was going to be a shoot out between the top two!
A clear start from all of the top placed boats ended up with Polyphemus close covering Artemis early on the first beat, from here they relentlessly maintained control and refused to give Artemis an opportunity to pass. In the mean-time Amalthea had picked all the right shifts and wind lanes and had extended a massive lead of 300m by the end of the first beat, the following pack included Vim, Pintail and Nemesis. The leading two were by now at the back of the fleet. The run saw a few place changes and the second beat had Amalthea being closed down by Vim who eventually managed to pass them on the final run to take their first win of the championships, Amalthea held onto 2nd with Pintail 3rd, Nemesis 4th, Polyphemus 5th Achilles 6th and Artemis 7th.
So in the end Polyphemus held on to win the championships with Mike Grice, John Howard and Kyran Hooper on 11 points.
Artemis with Paul Scullion, Ian and David Woods in 2nd on 12 points
Nemesis helmed by Dan Teubert with Ben Brigg and Jenna Robbins held onto 3rd.
The class would like to give special thanks to Race Officer Neil Andrew and the fantastic committee boat crew of John and Liz Maunder on their trusty steed Melkin, who have now run over 50 championship events through St Mawes Sailing Club – the club is incredibly proud of our association with them. All of the mark layers and rescue boats who put in a sterling effort to get the courses set in tricky, shifty conditions. And behind the scenes the organisers of the event, Mike Black, SW Class captain, Kyran Hooper, SW class secretary, Rob Mathewson, Mike Grice and John Howard.
Well done to all the competitors, next stop Falmouth Week.