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Ajax South West Championships at St. Mawes Sailing Club

by John Howard 23 Jul 2013 16:29 BST 19-21 July 2013

Friday (Race 1, 2 & 3)

With 18 boats race 1 was sailed in Falmouth Bay in a light and variable Easterly breeze. The fleet split with some boats heading right offshore hoping for more breeze and less tide. However, it was the left that paid up the first beat with a kinder sea and much more wind. The race officer, Neil Andrew, had set a 2 lap windward-leeward course and as usual David Liddington in Athena made the correct decisions, closely followed by reknowned light wind expert Roger Wood in Amalthea who finished second and Paul Scullion, showing excellent upwind speed, in Persephone in 3rd.

Race 2 and the breeze had dropped away completely in the bay so the race officer moved the fleet into Carrick Roads where there was enough wind to stage a race. John Howard, sailing Aeolus, developed an early lead closely followed by Oliver Edwards and Charles Emmett in Kali. Aeolus held the lead through the first lap but spinnaker pole control issues led to them being overtaken by Kali on the penultimate leg, a lead they held to the finish. David Mathewson in Ajax was third followed by Roger Wood in 4th with David Liddington recovering from an uncharacteristically poor first beat by his high standards in 5th.

Race 3 and the breeze was increasing to a steady force 4 to 5. Ajax chose the correct end of the start line and played the shifts well to develop a substantial lead, they were followed round by Artemis, driven by Stuart Sly and owned by Ian Woods who were showing some great upwind speed. Athena managed to work her way back from a poor start all the way up through the fleet, overtaking Artemis on the last gybe mark and finishing 2nd to Ajax, Aeolus finished 4th. Amalthea was forced to retire with a broken gooseneck.

Saturday (Race 4)

Saturday dawned with a base wind of force 5 gusting to a healthy force 6 Easterly. The race officer, in discussion with the class captain, Lindsey Thomas, and with the universal cooperation of the rest of the fleet, decided the best option would be to set a windward-leeward course with white sails only (no spinnakers) in Carrick Roads.

Mary B, driven by Johno Kneale, owned by Rob and Cai Mathewson, and Aeolus showed a huge generosity of spirit in letting the rest of the fleet have a 1 minute lead as they did not make it to the start line in time. Ajax and Persephone stormed off the line and were very well positioned when Ajax split her jib from luff to leech and was forced to retire. Again Athena managed to work her way through the fleet with impressive boat handling, speed and tactical awareness to pass Persephone and claim her second win of the championships.

Amalthea again showed excellent form to finish 3rd with Aeolus in 4th and Kali in 5th. The conditions limited the number of boats that made the start line to 12, with the crew of 6 boats deciding to view the racing from St Mawes Castle, ably supported by a number of armchair tyros who could laugh at the vicious wind shifts, confused seas and crazy gusts that the remaining competitors were forced to endure, whilst debating on the use, or not, of spinnakers. The race officer quite wisely decided to abandon racing for the day when he saw Ajax coming back to the start area with a replacement jib!

Sunday (Race 5, 6 & 7)

The wind had moderated very slightly from Saturday's fun conditions. The overall standings from Saturday were Athena leading on 4 points from Amalthea on 9, Kali on 10, Aeolus also on 10, Persephone with 11 and Ajax on 19, but with Ajax including a 15th and so desperately hoping to get 3 races in on the last day so that the extra discard would bring their results up the rankings.

Race 5, the Race officer decided to start proceedings with a 3 lap windward-leeward course set in Carrick Roads, again limited to white sails only. Ajax and Athena once again led the field having a really good tactical battle before Athena squeezed ahead to win, followed by Ajax, Amalthea, Aeolus and Artemis.

For Race 6, as conditions had still not abated, an identical course was set with the windward mark tucked under the St Mawes shore, creating interesting shifts and gusts for the competitors to negotiate. Ajax looked to have the best start down at the pin end however, a significant wind shift or maybe the call of beer at the Pandora meant they lost concentration and their lead. Aeolus managed to judge everything well and developed a huge lead over the rest of the fleet, which they held to the finish. Athena once again recovered from a mid-fleet start, picking boats off on every leg to finish 2nd, Artemis climbed to 3rd, Ajax eventually climbed back to 4th and Amalthea was 5th.

For race 7, at last a slightly lighter wind pattern meant that the fleet was allowed to use their spinnakers for the last race of the championships. Athena and Ajax once again dominated proceedings having a really tight battle, with Athena only just getting the advantage on the last downwind leg. Ajax took 2nd with a big gap down to Aeolus in 3rd, followed by Mary B with her best result of the weekend in 4th and Amalthea in 5th.

Overall, David Liddington (Athena) and crew of Paul Liddington and Rob Geddes-Brown claimed the championships with another impressive display, they had a total of 6 points from 1,1,1,1,2 (discarding 2,5). David Mathewson (Ajax) crewed by Richie Williams (the voice of Falmouth Coast Guard) and Timmy Bailey (international yachtsman, man of mystery and voice of the Falmouth fishing fleet) managed to move up to 2nd with 12 points, luckily managing to discard a 15th and a DNF (19). John Howard (Aeolus) with crew of Mike Legge and Laura Oliver finished 3rd with 14 points (discarding 4 & 6). Roger Wood (Amalthea) crewed by Claire Wood and John Hindmarsh were 4th on 17 points. Oliver Edwards (Kali) crewed by Charles Emmett (of recent OSTAR fame, having finished 2nd in class in the 2013 race) with Aaron "the Kiwi" on 22 points.

The class would like to thank the Race Officer, Neil Andrew, for his excellent courses and John and Liz Maunder aboard the committee boat, "Melkin" whose flag signals to the fleet were, especially on the last day, precise and succinct to a fault (foxtrot, uniform, numeral pennant 2 were displayed!).

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1stATHENA56David Liddington1‑5‑211216
2ndAJAX44David Mathewson‑1531(DNF)24212
3rdAEOLUS47John Howard‑62‑4441314
4thAMALTHEA66Roger Wood24(DNF)33‑5517
5thKALI45Oliver Edwards (Owner ‑ Charles Emmett)4165‑7‑8622
6thPERSEPHONE33Paul Scullion36‑8266‑923
7thARTEMIS21Stuart Sly (Owner ‑ Ian Woods)7‑133(DNC)53725
8thMARY B42Johno Kneale (Owner ‑ Rob & Cai Mathewson)‑1310‑13887437
9thAQUILA53Lindsey Thomas‑11‑145711101043
10thNEMESIS22Ian Reid‑17‑1296991144
11thOSPREY37Simone Kennett89109‑1412(DNF)48
12thPINTAIL36Richard Brown127‑16(DNC)1211850
13thDIOMEDES67Paul Over1081111‑13‑131252
14thTROY58Cedric Thomas5‑16151010(DNF)1353
15thODYSSEUS12Robin Edwards9117(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC65
16thREDOUTABLE32Hereward Tressider161512(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC81
17thKITTIWAKE27Mike Evans181714(DNC)15(DNC)DNC83
18thVICTORY19Mike Black141817(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC87

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