Ajax East Coast Championships - 25th - 26th June 2016 - Report
A small fleet of just seven boats assembled for the 2016 East Coast championships, but all the main contenders were present including ten first three boats in the Royal Harwich Yacht Club's Spring series and the winner of the Prosser Plate, sailed the previous weekend.
For the first race a late wind shift meant there was a long drag race on starboard to the windward mark with John Williams in Thunderer just able to hold off Mike Clayton in Polly Oliver to round first. A spinnaker twist for Polly Oliver allowed Thunderer to get clear and Richard Burnford in Widgeon and James Skellorn in Pegasus also came through. On the second lap Polly Oliver was able to recover and Widgeon held off Pegasus to finish third. Race 2 was an Olympic course with a triangle first followed by a windward leeward leg. Again Thunderer had a good start, but so did Pegasus and these two were close together at the windward mark. With a rainstorm approaching the fleet we to experience a 150 degree wind shift on the first reach with the timing of the gybe crucial for some. What should have been the second reaching leg now became a beat with squalls and rain both lashing the fleet. Thunderer held the lead but lost out on the next leg when Pegasus flew their spinnaker. At the former windward mark Thunderer was able to duck inside Pegasus having dropped their spinnaker early and in a dying wind they held on for the win. Gordon Sutton in Telamon completed the top three and with more thunder and rain threatening the fleet were towed back to Shotley marina for the night.
Sunday was more promising with the Williams crew in Thunderer looking very strong. In the first race with a F3 from the west most boats started at the up-tide Committee Boat end of the line with Polly Oliver alone at the pin end. With the left side favoured Polly Oliver lead round the windward mark but Spinnaker problems allowed Telamon and Thunderer to catch up. By the final mark Telamon had a narrow lead with Polly Oliver and Thunderer behind for the short beat to the finish line. With Polly Oliver taking off Telamon covered and allowed Thunderer to catch the on starboard just short of the line. Telamon opted to tack and Polly Oliver to duck, and all three crossed the line almost simultaeously. With the race officer declaring the order as Thunderer, Polly Oliver before Telamon things were looking good for Thunderer.
Race 3 was started quickly with another Olympic course. Thunderer and Polly Oliver were both called over and returned along with Widgeon. This allowed David Mayne in Guillemot to lead around the windward mark followed by Pegasus. Behind them Polly Oliver had sailed a storming first beat to round in third place. Pegasus overtook Guillemot on the first reach and led up the next beat. At the windward mark most boats needed to gybe to set their spinnakers, except for Polly Oliver who was able to escape into a small lead that they held to the finish. With Thunderer only able to recover to 6th there was scope for an upset.
The final race started cleanly at the second attempt with most boats opting to go to the previously favoured left side. Polly Oliver sailed a more middle route to a comfortable lead at the first mark and went on to win. Behind here Thunderer's downwind speed was enough to pull them through to second place and an overall win by just one point from Polly Oliver. Behind these two the consistent Telamon, with 4 third place was beaten on the. Tie break by Pegasus with their two second places.
In the third race Polly Oliver and Telamon went left in a stronger breeze to build a clear lead. Polly Oliver won from Telamon with Thunderer third from Atalanta. Overnight Thunderer led on points.
Saturday started with a light westerly breeze. Race Officer Doug Brown got the fleet away early. After a long starboard tack in which they were lifted towards the mark, Guillemot and Pegasus were leading in a fitful breeze. Guillemot pulled clear, but boats inshore were holding the shore breeze and boats offshore picked up the sea breeze and were approaching under spinnaker. At this point the weather mark was moved closer to the fleet in a well intentioned plan to get a result. Guillemot won, but in a claim for redress the race was subsequently ruled null and void.
For race five the sea breeze held, and in a good breeze, Thunderer won from Atalanta with Telamon third and Indefatigable fourth.
In the same conditions for race six, Atalanta and Pegasus contested the lead. On both beats Atalanta judged the laylines more accurately to win from Pegasus with Polly Oliver third and Indefatigable fourth. At the end of Saturday, Thunderer still led by one point from Atalanta.
Sunday brought grey overcast conditions and a fresh southwesterly. On a triangle sausage course Atalanta led the way right up the beat, with Polly Oliver and Teal chasing hard. Thunderer was some way back. Knowing they had to beat Atalanta, they went left on the second beat, but it did not pay off. Indefatigable came through to third on the second beat. Atalanta won from Polly Oliver with Indefatigable third and Pegasus fourth.
In the final race Atalanta sailed away to a clear win from Polly Oliver second, Teal third and Telamon fourth. Overall Atalanta won comfortably, having won the last three races. Thunderer was second, Polly Oliver third and Pegasus fourth.