Ajax 23 One Design Keel Boat – day racing at its best!

The Ajax fleet at RHYC provides competition and excitement both for regular top-finishers and crews aspiring to be at the top.  A superb sea boat that looks after its crew, the Ajax is fast both to windward and with the spinnaker flying downwind.  It is solid and stable and copes exceptionally well in strong winds, making it a pleasure to helm and to crew. The Ajax is normally raced with a crew of three, although two up is perfectly possible, especially in lighter winds. 

The class has two fleets, one at RHYC (23 boats registered, about 13 actively racing) and the other at St Mawes (Falmouth).  The National Championships are held by each club in alternate years.  In alternate years a number of RHYC boats will make the journey to St Mawes to compete in July, and may stay on to sail in Falmouth week (August) where the Ajax is often one of the best represented classes.

At RHYC, we race every weekend in the sailing season, making full use of the River Orwell, as well as going out to sea frequently or up the lovely River Stour.   An attraction of Ajax sailing is that we do not need rescue boat support for our racing, and this gives us great flexibility with our courses - sometimes choosing short, sharp racing (usually when windy) and sometimes using fair wind and tide to go further.  Being a strict one design keelboat means that what really counts is how the boat is sailed.  While there is plenty of rivalry on the water, Ajax sailors are friendly and welcoming; always happy to help each other and new owners get the best out of their boats.  In winter there are occasional lunches at the RHYC for the class.

The 2017 Ajax Class Captain is Martine Clayton.  Please contact Martine if you have any questions about the Ajax or if you are interested in joining the fleet at the RHYC. 
Email: martine.clayton@btinternet.com

Ajax Spring Series Races 9 and 10

Seven Ajax’s came out on a glorious day on 21 May 2017.  With an afternoon low tide the start was downriver at Clamp House giving everyone a relaxing sail down with the tide.  With an absent Race Officer the decision was made to self start and finish for the two races and the class rose to the occasion and were extremely well behaved at the start of both races and then managing to establish clear gaps at the finish.
For the first race there was a fetch to Collimer (S) and a beat to No1 (P), a run to Stratton (S) and then a short beat to the finish at Trimley.  Polly Oliver and Hermione both started well with Polly Oliver out in the tide.  Behind a line of Telamon, Teal, Pegasus and Sirius luffed each other towards the shore before Pegasus and Sirius broke ranks and dipped down to get the full benefit of the ebbing tide.  Hermione pressed on along the shore but suffered because she could not lay Collimer.  In fact as the fleet approached Levington the wind headed and no one was able to lay the first mark.  Polly Oliver led with Telamon behind but the remaining fleet, including Guillemot had a close race to No1 .  On the run Polly Oliver stuck with the Trimley shore whilst behind them some of the fleet headed toward the Shotley side.  Although this did pay, Polly Oliver stayed ahead to win with Telamon in a well-deserved second place followed by Guillemot and Pegasus.
For Race two the start line was between Trimley and No 2 with a beat to No 1 (P), a run to Stratton (P), a beat to Trimley (P) and then a run via Collimer (P) to finish between Bay and No 4.  It was a good start with all the boats on the line.  Those towards the Trimley shore needed room to tack and had to duck those still coming in from the outer end of the start line. Polly Oliver failed to duck Telamon cleanly and after doing her turn was left struggling mid fleet.  Telamon led up the beat and round No 1 just ahead of Guillemot.  These two gybed to set spinnakers and head towards the Shotley shore to avoid the last of the ebbing tide.  Pegasus in third went up the Trimley shore.  Polly Oliver and Teal also headed towards the Shotley shore and caught up with the leading two boats.  These four managed to move past Pegasus as they approached Stratton and remained overlapped until some 6 or 7 boat lengths from the mark.  Polly Oliver, who would have been the outside boat managed to break the overlap at this point and rounded first, followed by Guillemot who was on the inside.  Teal and Telamon were squeezed out of the sandwich and had to fight with Pegasus up the short beat to Trimley.  There the starboard hand approach by Teal allowed her to round in third, but on the run back to the finish she was not able to hold off the Telamon who found yet more boat-speed.

Ajax Spring Series Race 7 and 8 

A warm weather race and hotly competitive. 8 Ajaxes windward-leeward courses in a shifty WSW3-4. Courses Race 7 : DeerPark port, Prof port, Race 8 No.7 port Prof port, through line A each lap, each way.
A bundle at the start with boats squeezed against the marinas by later Starboard tack boats, with Sirius caught by PollyOliver while trying to escape on port. The collision sent both boats to the back of the fleet, but no material damage.
Meanwhile, Thunderer kept clear in the North side of river, and established a lead which  she held to the end. Dionysis also kept clear, and showed good speed to pass Teal and finish within seconds of Thunderer.
For the second race (race 8) the opening beat was very short which led to a frantic mark rounding with most boats approaching on Port, with varying degrees of overstanding. As usual, the issue was resolved with a lot of shouting and Sirius managed to scrape inside from an unpromising approach route on Port. Thunderer was clear away from the melee, and sailed downwind into a substantial lead.
Behind these two, the fleet approached Prof in line abreast and some more shouting was needed for everyone to get round.
The second lap was slightly less noisy (some of us were getting hoarse by that stage) and the fleet finished, mostly within a 1minute interval. Thunderer held her lead from Dionysius, but Sirius again squeezed in between them at the finish ODM, to end a particularly eventful 1st race day of the season for them and The Williams in Thunderer.
A good days sailing for all, even those of us who did not finish in the front half of the fleet, and we can’t wait for next Sunday!

Ajax Spring Series Race 5 

Sunday 7 May saw a cold northerly wind blowing and it was not perhaps surprising that only 3 boats sailed downriver for the Clamp House start. After some gentle lobbying by the crews of Teal and Pegasus the course set was a simple one, Collimer (S), Pye End (P), Collimer (P) with a finish between Bay and No 4.  The expectation was a spinnaker run out and a beat back, if only sailing was that straightforward.
With such a long course it seems appropriate to try and allocate points to show how the three participants fared.  Polly Oliver (3 points) had the best start followed by Teal (2 points) and Pegasus (1 point).  The boats stayed in this order until Pepys where the prevailing NNW of the river was cancelled by a north easterly sea breeze.  At this point the boats concatenated and Pegasus (3 points), and Teal (2 points) both drifted past the  becalmed early leader (1 point).  The previous order was restored shortly thereafter and Polly Oliver led towards the Harwich shelf.  Here the caution of Polly Oliver and Teal allowed Pegasus to sail closer to the shore and lead towards the breakwater.  So at this point 3 points to Pegasus, 2 to Polly Oliver and 1 to Teal.  With the sea breeze shifting to the South-east Pegasus established a good lead on the way across Dovercourt Bay to the turning mark.  Behind Teal earned a bonus point by drifting past a stationery Polly Oliver with sails filled.  
Then the wind shifted back and the prevailing Northerly filled in and spinnakers were hoisted.  This helped Polly Oliver and Teal to catch Pegasus with Polly Oliver nipping past a gentle Pegasus luff to reach Pye End first.  The resulting 3 points gives the points score to Polly Oliver with 2 for Teal gives a tie with Pegasus.  The race really began again at Pye End with Polly Oliver first away followed by Teal.  Pegasus was hindered by a slow spinnaker drop.  The boats remained in this order to the finish with Polly Oliver pulling away from Teal on the long beat back.
Results:  Polly Oliver 1, Teal 2, Pegasus 3

Ajax Spring Series Races 3 and 4

Conditions were not kind for the second week of racing in the Ajax Class’ spring series.  The wind was blowing from the South East with gusts of up to 35 knots and few lulls in between.  The Tera class, due to be racing in an open event were held ashore waiting (without luck) for the wind to ease when the Ajax’s were helped away from the lee shore marina berths for their first race at 13:30.  With a beat down river from the club line the course was set as No 6 (P), Grog (P), Line A, No 7 (P). The inclusion of No 6 was designed to encourage the fleet towards the southerly shore initially in case the Tera fleet were able to race.
Five boats came to the line and the first beat required a number of port trackers to duck starboard boats as they tried to dodge the tide and the wind shifts.  Polly Oliver managed to get a lift along the shore after No 6 and rounded Grog with a small lead.  Behind her Dionysius, Teal, Telamon and Pegasus were all closely bunched.  The run up river was nerve racking for those flying spinnakers as it was a dead run with the last of the flooding tide.  On the second beat all boats opted for the northern shore initially, with the exception of Teal who retired after damaging her mainsail on No 7.
Dionysius pressed Polly Oliver and was close behind by Grog after Polly Oliver was left without jib sheets.  Further spinnaker issues slowed Polly Oliver on the run allowing Dionysius to surge past and take a well-deserved win on their first outing of 2017.  The spinnaker carrying Telamon completed the podium ahead of Pegasus. 
The second race of the day had the same course and this time Polly Oliver stretched away from the start line and was never challenged.  Behind her Telamon kept finding starboard boats and managed to translate a good start into fourth place by the time Grog was reached.  Pegasus sailed well to round Grog with Dionysius but her lack decision not to fly a spinnaker downwind meant she dropped back to third downwind.
Results.  Polly Oliver 2,1 Dionysius 1,2 Pegasus 4,3 Telamon 3,4 Teal DNF,DNS 

Report on Ajax Spring Series Races 1 and 2

With just six boats launched it was pleasing to see all six being rigged for the first races of the 2017 season when we mark 50 years of Ajax racing.  All boats set off for the Clamp House start in good time where Race Officer Pat York was waiting.  With the wind flicking between South South East and South the course  for the first race was Collimer (S), Trimley (S), No 1 (P), Trimley (P), No 1 (P) with a finish at Trimley.  The start found five of the six on the line with Hermione just behind.  As the fleet sailed towards Levington the wind backed and no one was able to lay Collimer.  Teal tacked first on to port but could not clear the other Starboard Boats.  Teal delayed her tack back causing Telamon to alter course and after the usual pleasantries Teal took a 360 turn penalty. To leeward of this Polly Oliver managed to squeeze up ahead of Pegasus to establish a clear lead by the time the fleet reached Trimley.  The wind was a steady forever 3 against the tide and there wee some waves as a result.  Polly Oliver stretched her lead on the run back from No 1 whilst some boats had to gybe before setting their spinnakers.  Teal powered up the next beat and round No 1 for the second time just behind Telamon surging past to take second just before the finish line.  Guillemot and Hermione rounded out the finishers with Pegasus retiring for further crew training and debriefs.
The second race had a windward start with just Fagbury (P) and Collimer (P) as turning marks with the finish between Bay and No 4.  Polly Oliver started at the starboard end of the line with Teal and Telamon slotting in behind.  Guillemot chose the Port end. The first beat against the first of the flooding tide was notable for Teal running hard aground when trying to work through under Polly Oliver.  This left Telamon and Gullemot battling for second place as again Polly Oliver stretched away upwind.  The run back from Fagbury was amongst some RHYC cruising boats, perhaps returning from the Cruise In Company shakedown cruise.  Guillemot chose the Trimley shore which looked very promising initially.  By Collimer Telamon had a solid second place with Teal coming through ahead of Guillemot.  Teal continued this charge but could not catch Telamon by the finish.
Results.  Polly Oliver 1,1 Telamon 3,2 Teal 2,3 Guillemot 4,4 Hermione 5,DNS, Pegasus RTD,DNS