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Ajax National Championships at St Mawes Sailing Club

by James Skellorn 2 Aug 2010 15:41 BST 23-25 July 2010

The Ajax 23-foot keelboat class enjoyed one of its best National Championships in Falmouth Bay from 23rd to 25th July. 23 boats competed in moderate breezes and bright sunshine. St Mawes SC were hosts, and five boats visited from the East Coast fleet based in Suffolk at Royal Harwich YC.

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.

Friday 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 Aquila went left and got to the weather mark first. She led Athena (David Liddington) and Amalthea (Roger Wood) until the second beat when they got past to take first and second.

In the second race, left was best again and 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.

Sunday’s conditions were a repeat of Friday, bright sun and an offshore breeze. In race 7, Aquila once again got to the front, battling with Amalthea, Atalanta and Guillemot. Amalthea won from Atalanta and Guillemot. With Athena fifth, Amalthea was well placed for the championship. Fourth place would be enough in the last race to secure a win.

After a tense beat, the leading boats were Aquila, Athena, Amalthea and Pegasus. On the second beat, Atalanta and Kali (Charles Emmett) went right and found more breeze. Kali led at the top of the second beat from Atalanta and a closely-bunched group of boats, including Aquila, Amalthea, Athena and Aeolus chased them. On the run, the breeze was to the left. The leading boats arrived at the bottom mark in a group of six boats and Amalthea got the worst of it. She headed right with Kali on the short beat to the finish, but the breeze was to the left.

With places changing right up to the line, Atalanta won from Athena and Aeolus. Kali came in sixth and Amalthea ninth. David Liddington and his crew in Athena had won the championship by a single point from Amalthea, to take his fifth championship. Atalanta’s strong showing on Sunday pulled her up to third place overall.

All agreed the new format had been a great success. Thanks to Lindsey Thomas for organising a most enjoyable event and to Neil Andrew for arranging excellent races.


1. Athena (David Liddington) SMSC 1,4,1,(6),(8),1,5,2 : 14 points
2. Amalthea (Roger Wood) SMSC 2,7, (18), 2, 1, 2, 1, (9) : 15 points
3. Atalanta (Alex Davey) SMSC 4, (12), (8), 1, 4, 6, 2, 1 : 18 points
4. Guillemot (David Mayne) RHYC 4, (12), (8), 1, 4, 6, 2, 1 : 23 points

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