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Ajax National Championship at St. Mawes Sailing Club

by John Howard 5 Aug 2021 11:25 BST 30 July - 1 August 2021
The fleet during the Ajax Nationals in Falmouth Bay © Graham Pinkney

The morning of Friday July 30th was somewhat inclement, Storm Evert was barrelling up the north Cornwall coast and the wise decision from the race officer was to postpone for 3 hours before setting out into the bay in the hope that the wind would have subsided.

Sure enough when the braver, or more foolhardy (still not decided which) boats headed out it was only blowing around 20 knots from the NNW with some decent gusts, close to 25 knots, shooting down the course and varying through 30 degrees. The windward mark was dropped in up towards Swanpool and 12 of the 16 entries got the 2021 national championships under way.

In race 1 the early leaders were Polly Oliver (visiting from Royal Harwich Yacht Club), Halcyon, Athena, Nemesis and Polyphemus, there was a lot of snakes and ladders with the small shifts until Polyphemus who was out to the left stumbled across a monster which carried her into the lead, followed by Polly Oliver, Halcyon, and Athena.

During race 2 and 3, two boats seemed to work out where the shifts were - for the rest of us it was still a mystery, but Polly Oliver managed to take two bullets closely followed (at times) by Troy, who was on her first outing after a major refit. Athena made it to 3rd in race 2 and Halcyon in race 3. After day one there was already a bit of a gap at the top and consistency was proving to be a rare commodity. Aeolus also made some great progress in race 3 ending up 4th with great speed both up and down wind.

Saturday 31st - The wind had backed round to the west and abated down to 13 or 14 knots, the windward mark was dropped in towards Maenporth, but there were plenty of shifts to keep the lake sailors amused and the rest of the class befuddled.

Race 4 saw Artemis, the defending National Champion, find her way to the front, Polly Oliver had not learnt this new wind direction and struggled to make progress, Troy however was excelling and once again climbed to 2nd, followed by Athena and Nemesis.

In race 5, Amalthea chose all the right shifts on the first beat but then normal service was resumed on Polly Oliver as she took on the lead and extended away with Athena and Troy chasing hard, Pintail also made an appearance close to the front in the slightly improving conditions eventually finishing 4th. Amalthea ended up in an excellent 5th.

Race 6 saw Polyphemus eventually work out the shifts and tide and get back to the front, however Athena was chasing hard and managed to squeeze passed on the second beat and extend away on the run to take her first win of the weekend, Troy was once again 3rd and Polly Oliver in an uncustomary 5th.

Sunday 1st August brought another change in conditions and a much lighter northerly breeze, (4-6 knots) and a racecourse shift further east with a windward mark south of Falmouth's Castle Beach.

Race 7, Polyphemus had a shocker at the start and were squeezed out at the committee boat which left everyone heading off to the west on starboard while Polyphemus sorted the knitting out and eventually tacked off to the north on port and from being dead last managed to close up towards Halcyon, Troy and Athena at the front of the fleet, the wind was dropping off now and it was beginning to look doubtful that anyone would complete the last leg down to the finish line, but Polyphemus managed to keep making progress and finished just ahead of Halcyon, Athena and Achilles who had also found an excellent, personal breeze to let them finish in 4th.

After a lunchtime wait for the wind to increase, we eventually got under way as a nice 10 - 12 knot NW filled in. Having been one of the most consistent boats during the series it was great to see Troy eventually stretch her legs at the front of the fleet and hold on to take her first win, Athena held onto 2nd and Polly Oliver was back up to 3rd with Pintail once again proving they had plenty of pace and guile in the shifty conditions as they held on to 4th.

And that brought an end to the series. A complete variety of conditions from total drifter to dogs off chains, excellent courses and race management from the RO Neil Andrew and his team onboard the committee boat, Melkin, of John and Liz Maunder, ably assisted by our resident, octogenarian, windlass substitute and farmer, Cedric, and his race commentator daughter Lindsey. The mark layers had a full-on job at times but coped admirably. The conditions were best described by the 2019 champion, Paul Scullion on Artemis, when he said, "I have never sailed in a championship where every single boat has managed to overtake me, often repeatedly".

The three most consistent boats were Athena, 24 points total, and Polly Oliver and Troy who both had 27 points but after the discards the reshuffle meant that our 2021 National champion was...

1st - Polly Oliver (RHYC) with Mike Clayton, Bob, and Amanda 12 points
2nd - Troy (StMSC) with Gavin Watson, Gary and Tim 13 points
3rd - Athena (StMSC) Rob Geddes Brown, Veryan and Jonno 14 points

The evening socials were well attended, and some fantastic prizes were awarded by the Mylor Riggers on Nemesis which kept us all amused, there was plenty of over exuberance, some over exposure (Vim), lots of over the line, (Nemesis, Nemesis, Nemesis, Artemis, Halcyon) but most importantly a brilliant atmosphere in one of the friendliest, yet most competitive one design fleets around. The 2022 event will be held at Royal Harwich Yacht Club. For more information about joining the class please go to

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Ajax nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosBoatSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1stPolly Oliver17Mike Clayton211‑814‑7312
2ndTroy58Gavin Watson‑922233‑5113
3rdAthena56Rob Geddes‑Brown‑43‑63213214
4thPolyphemus40Mike Grice16‑7‑10721623
5thHalcyon25Matt Pullen383‑11662‑1128
6thNemesis22Dan Teubert545455‑8‑828
7thArtemis21Ian Woods7581‑99‑10737
8thPintail36Richard Brown(DNC)(DNC)DNC7476445
9thAeolus47Robin Richardson674‑1313109‑1449
10thTelamon61Gordon Sutton8996‑12‑1311952
11thAmalthea66Mike Black1010(DNC)51111‑141259
12thVim46Nick Sylvester(RET)(DNC)DNC98813560
13thAchilles48Richard Townshend(DNC)(DNC)DNC12101241570
14thPersephone33Guy Ashton1112101414(DNC)‑151374
15thDiomedes67Martyn Osborne121111151515‑16‑1679
16thOrion11Tom White(DNC)(DNC)DNC161614121085

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