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. 
If you are considering joining the fleet and are interested in purchasing an Ajax please visit the 'for sale' area of this website: Boats for Sale

Ajax Class Captain Report 2017

Ajax Icicle

The annual crews race for the fleet was held on Sunday 15 October 2017.  Despite the trophy’s name the weather conditions were more reminiscent of mid-summer and sun hats and dark glasses were sported.  The wind was forecast to veer from the south east, through southerly to the southwest by the time the race started.  This is a difficult direction for the club made more challenging by the start time being just over one hour after high water and water depths shallowing rapidly on the ebbing tide.  The course was Priory Beacon (P), Deer Park (P), Prof (S), No 6 (S), Middle (P), No 7 (P) with a start and finish on line A.  Six boats started with the helms who were crewing for the day challenged with a running start and needing to get the spinnaker up and drawing quickly.  Teal was the most successful and had their filling before the start, perhaps helped by the experience of Julian in the front of the boat.  Behind them Mars, Telamon and Guillemot also put up a good initial show for the broad reach to Priory Beacon.  The next leg was due to be a beat, but a slow changing wind and the strong ebb tide allowed all to fetch to Deer Park with Teal leading Mars.  These two boats remained within a couple of boat lengths of each other for the rest of the race.  Guillemot overtook Telamon on the fetch to Deer Park and set of in chase of the leaders.  After Prof the leg to No 6 was also not the intended beat, perhaps a trip to the most popular buoy of the year Grog would have been more effective.  There was some drama on the broad spinnaker reach to Middle.  Firstly Mars challenged Teal for the lead and a luffing match ensued, this allowed Guillemot to come through and round Middle outside of Teal with Mars following them round.  Guillemot then went low on the not a beat leg to No 7, and promptly ran aground, allowing Telamon through into third place.  Approaching No 7 Mars again challenged Teal, but the latter were able to round and tack away cleanly for the fetch to the finish.  This meant that Giles Wright won the Icicle Trophy with young Thomas Davey second. 
Results: Teal 1, Mars 2, Telamon 3, Sirius 4, Guillemot 5, Pegasus 6

Ajax Autumn Series Races 12 & 13

The Autumn Series for 2017 concluded on 8th October with a light WNW wind.  The races attracted a good fleet of nine boats and once again the racing was very close.  For the first start the course was a beat to Mulberry, a run to Cat House, a beat to Downham and a run back to the finish.  With a strong flood tide three boats were pushed the course side of the line and had to return.  As a result Mars found clear air at the outer distance and gained an immediate lead whilst behind Pegasus, Thunderer, Puffin and Polly Oliver traded places.  By Mulberry Mars was able to round with a small lead, followed by Pegasus, Thunderer, Polly Oliver and Puffin.  Two boats, Mars and Puffin opted to sail the direct route to Cat House, whilst the rest headed inshore out of the tide but with a greater distance to cover.  Pegasus was delayed by their spinnaker launch and with the rest of the fleet catching up as the wind filled in the race round this great circle was very open.  Polly Oliver gybed away early and gained as a result, but the more direct route of Mars and Puffin prevailed and these two led round Cat House for the beat back to Downham.  Behind these, Guillemot and Teak both gained places after their delayed start.  On the second beat Polly Oliver held off Guillemot who passed Puffin with Mars maintaining their lead.  Both Polly Oliver and Guillemot opted to go high on the final run, but could not catch Mars who maintained their lead to the finish and a first victory of the season.  Polly Oliver stayed ahead of Guillemot to finish second. 
The second race was shortened to Downham/Cat House/Downham  and a better behaved fleet started with Polly Oliver and Thunderer getting the best starts.  Thunderer pulled clear whilst Polly Oliver covered Guillemot as if the series depended on it (and it probably did).  Guillemot passed Polly Oliver on the run with Mars, Teal and Sirius also pressing hard.  Mars gained on the second beat to gain third place and Polly Oliver drifted backwards on the run to come home behind Teal, Sirius and Puffin.  
Results: Mars 1,3; Thunderer 4,1; Guillemot 3,2; Polly Oliver 2,7; Teal 5,4; Sirius 7,5; Puffin 6,6; Pegasus 9,8; Telamon 8,9;
The Autumn series was won by Polly Oliver, with Guillemot second and Teal third 

Ajax Autumn Series Races 10 & 11

A small turnout had an energetic sail today- Polly Oliver, Teal and Sirius. In race 1, Polly Oliver led from the start, pushed hard by Teal, particularly on the 1st beat to Orwell. Slightly better speed downwind (planing in the gusts) took some pressure off, but Teal remained close.
In the second race, there was drama at the start. The committee boat dragged until it was impossible to clear the line on Starboard. Polly Oliver crossed on Port, Teal claimed to have had to bear away slightly to avoid a colision but promptly had to tack to avoid Stratton, the outer distance, and made contact with PollyOliver's quarter. Polly Oliver by this time had tacked onto Starboard in answer  to the hail. PollyOliver being the boat that had tacked from Port to Starboard did a 360 for the initial infringement, but felt that Teal had infringed on the crossed tacks where there was a subsequent colision. In the event, PollyOliver did not protest and Teal went on to win, by just over a boat length in 50minutes.
Sirius being sailed 2 up seemed to struggle in the gusty conditions.
17  1,2
26  2,1
34  3,3

Ajax Autumn Series Races 8 & 9

Sunday 17th September had a misty start but a steady North Westerly wind was blowing at around 6-10 knots.  Seven Ajax’s came out, including the first competitive race of the season for a freshly scrubbed Mars crewed by three generations of the familly.  The first race was a beat to No 9 followed by a run back to the club line.  Puffin gained the best start and led for the first half of the beat.  Behind her place changes were frequent with port hand boats needing to duck those on starboard.  The wind was both shifty and variable in strength and gains were made by finding more wind or the right lift.  Finding both together was the key to success.  Mars soon proved adept at this and passed Puffing around half way up the beat with Guillemot also going well.  In the last few tacks Polly Oliver also found more wind and these three rounded No 9 in that order.  Behind them the remaining four boats all arrived at the mark together, after 30 minutes of upwind sailing, and after some shouts Puffing did a turn for an infringement.  On the run back Guillemot and Polly Oliver both gained and passed Mars but finding the wind still remained key.  Polly Oliver sailed a different course from the others near Downham but found herself in less wind as the finish approached with Mars, Teal and Dionysius coming past.
After a short delay waiting for dinghies to finish the second race was started in a strong ebb tide with a beat to Mulberry, a run to Cat House, a second beat to Downham and a run to the finish.  Polly Oliver claimed the best start and led up the first beat, which at times looked rather lopsided as the wind shifted further North.  As the fleet approached Mulberry the wind headed and extra tacks were needed.  This allowed Polly Oliver to gain a small advantage over Guillemot and Mars.  On the second beat Guillemot and Mars again challenged for the lead and again the approach to the windward mark was sufficient for Polly Oliver to round clear and with the strong ebb tide hold a small lead to the finish.  Behind these thee Teal remained consistent and Puffin stayed ahead of previous race winners Thunderer and Dionysius.
Results  Guillemot 1,2; Mars 2,3; Polly Oliver 5,1; Teal 3,4; Dionysius 4,7; Puffin 7,5; Thunderer 6,6


Pin Mill Regatta and Ajax A7 Race

Only 5 boats came to the line at Pin Mill for what turned out to be a very enjoyable race, in a good N/Westerly wind and sunshine.The course was Pin Mill Line down river to Stratton (S); College (P); Shotley Horse (S); Bristol (S); Shotley Horse (P); College (S); Fagbury (S); finishing at Pin Mill and No5 Buoy. The wind direction meant a running start down the river, Guillemot and Telemon opted for the north shore while Puffin, Teal and Prometheus went for the south side, which, after they cleared the trees paid off. Telemon decided to cross over a little too soon and lost out, Guillemot followed a little later and ended up just behind Puffin and Teal. Guillemot slowly passed Teal until the three leading boats approached the point, Teal attempted to pass Guillemot to windward (always a dodgy manoeuvre) and as a result both boats went hard aground without warning. Guillemot promptly healed well over and managed to slide off, Teal was not so lucky and sent a man overboard to push her off. Meanwhile Puffin made the most it by keeping sensibly away from the mud and built up a good lead hotly chased by Guillemot. These two sailed away from the others on a close fetch down to Shotley Horse. Gradually Guillemot managed to get past Puffin to arrive at Shotley Horse first. The positions did not change much on the beat to Bristol, with a good spinnaker run back to Shotley Horse. On the way up Sea Reach Teal and Telamon managed to set their spinnakers but the reach was quite close. By this time the fleet was fairly well spaced out and finished at No5 Buoy.

Finishing positions:- Guillemot 1st; Puffin 2nd; Teal 3rd; Telamon 4th; Prometheus 5th.

Ajax Autumn Series Races 5 & 6

On Sunday 3 September the Autumn Series again featured two races in front of the clubhouse, with the race officer Simon Hewitt opting for a Committee Boat start for all fleets.  Nine boats came out for the two races, despite the early 10:00 start.  The first race included three beats with the first to Berners (P), the second from Park Farm Beacon (S) to Grog (P) and the third from Priory Beacon (P) to the finish.  Despite the flooding tide holding the fleet back the lack of practice at Committee Boat starts was notable with a gaggle of boats almost stationary at the Committee Boat with seconds to go and Thunderer finding there was just not enough room.  Dionysius managed to come our just ahead of Polly Oliver with Thunderer soon in contention despite their turn for the starting line infringement.  Perhaps we should have two turns!   Dionysius led round Berners and Park Farm Beacon although Polly Oliver found the best lay line for Grog to lead at that point.  Both Dionysius and Thunderer remained on starboard to set their spinnaker whilst Polly Oliver gybed onto port to gain the advantage of the last of the flood tide.  A spinnaker twist for Polly Oliver allowed Dionysius through to windward, a position they held until Priory Beacon.  There they managed to round keeping Polly Oliver outside them allowing them a safe cover to the finish.  Behind the three leading boats Telamon, Teal and Puffin had a close race, finishing in that order.

With the tide now ebbing in the second race the fleet again showed that judging the start was crucial, and challenging for many.  Polly Oliver, Teal and Telamon managed to find room to bear off down the line and start at speed, whilst a slightly later Thunderer started at speed at the Committee Boat.  With the course now a beat for Grog (leaving Park Bight to starboard) and only the first of the ebb running, finding the shifts and the gusts was more crucial than heading into the tide.  Polly Oliver pulled away from Thunderer up the beat whilst Teal headed towards the first of the ebb and Telamon found Guillemot on starboard.  At Grog, Polly Oliver led from Thunderer and Guillemot.  The course now went to No 7 and on the fetch back to Park Bight Thunderer was headed allowing Guillemot to catch up.  Two tacks on headers sealed Thunderer’s demotion with Guillemot coming through strongly to challenge Polly Oliver on the last run.  Behind these three Teal sailed well to secure fourth from an improving Sirius and Dionysius came through Telamon at the end to secure 6th.

Results: Polly Oliver 2,1; Thunderer 3,3; Dionysius 1,6; Guillemot 7,2; Teal 5,4; Telamon 4,6; Sirius 8,5; Puffin 6,8; Hermione 9,9

Ajax Autumn Series Races 3 & 4

The Autumn Series continued in very summery conditions on Sunday 27 August.  As sailors arrived there was no consistent wind and racing looked to be dependent on the arrival of a sea breeze.  A postponement was signalled at 13:45, 30 minutes before the scheduled start so that everyone would have 30 minutes to get ready should the wind arrive.  This it did at 14:15 with a south-easterly breeze of around 7 knots.  With the start delayed until 14:45 a shorter course was set of Grog (P) and Priory Beacon (P).  At the start against the flood tide everyone got away cleanly with Thunderer and Guillemot leading most of the fleet towards the Nacton shore with Polly Oliver and Sirius on the clubhouse side.  By Grog all of the Nacton shore boats rounded ahead, despite the early benefit of more wind on the clubhouse side.  Thunderer held off Guillemot to round first ahead of Teal.  By Priory Beacon the downwind speed of Guillemot was enough for them to have a narrow lead for the final beat back towards the line.  A well-judged final tack from Thunderer allowed them to cross ahead at the outer distance with Guillemot a short distance down-tide.  Teal remained in third place ahead of a well-sailed Puffin.

The course was left unchanged for the second race, and this time the whole fleet held on starboard to cross to the Nacton shore.  Initially Polly Oliver crossed ahead of Thunderer and Guillemot but by Grog Thunderer had established a clear lead with Polly Oliver and Guillemot trading tacks behind with Guillemot rounding ahead.  Behind these there was close racing with Telamon, Teal and Prometheus (racing for the fist time this season) closely matched.  On this occasion the run to Priory Beacon left the positions unchanged and despite a late surge by Polly Oliver on the beat to the line the positions remained unchanged.

The late start and two shorter races got the fleet ashore as a sensible hour after another demonstration of the closeness of the class racing.

Results: Thunderer 1,1; Guillemot 2,2; Teal 3,5; Polly Oliver 6,3; Telamon 5,4; Puffin 4,8; Sirius 7,7; Prometheus 9,6; Pegasus 8,9    

Ajax Autumn Series Races 1 & 2

The Autumn Series got under way on Sunday 20 August with a WSW wind of around 8 knots, gusting to 15 in the first race.  The course was two laps of Downham and No.6 with both marks left to port. 

The first race was started on the last of the flood tide with Polly Oliver claiming the start at the Outer Distance Mark and keeping a small lead up the first beat.  The first run into the tide was challenging with boats finding wind in different places across the river.  Polly Oliver held their lead past the club, but was caught by a group of boats, Teal, Sirius and Guillemot.  Sirius swept past on the approach to No 6 while Dionysius also cam through having sailed a more leeward course to take the lead.  The initial stages of the next beat were difficult with a very shifty wind.  Dionysius made this look easy and pulled away for a clear lead.  Polly Oliver managed to pass Sirius and Guillemot came through Teal for fourth.  On the final run Dionysius held their lead and Sirius engaged in a luffing dual with Guillemot.  This allowed Teal to pass both and claim third.

The second race was shorter, but with a strongly ebbing tide most felt that two beats to Downham with a return to Cat House was enough.  Dionysius made the best start with the remaining boats well back having misjudged the strength of the ebb tide.  Polly Oliver chased hard on the first run and together with Teal challenged Dionysius on the second beat.  Dionysius found more wind in the stronger tide and held on to lead round the final mark with Polly Oliver a clear second from Teal.  These positions were maintained until the finish.

Results: Dionysius 1,1; Polly Oliver 2,2; Teal 3,3; Guillemot 5,4; Sirius 4,5.

Ajax Regatta

Once again the Ajax fleet showed the benefit of one design racing with three close races over the two days of the RHYC regatta.  As an outside observer on this occasion I may miss some of the detail, but not the close finishes.  

On the Saturday the course was set by committee and appeared to be No 7 (S), Priory Beacon (P), No 8 (P?) and Cat House (P) with two laps.  Guillemot started well but the downwind speed of Telamon had the advantage in the gusting SW wind.  Puffin was able to hold off Pegasus for third place.  Both pairs of positions were reversed in the second race with Guillemot taking a narrow win from Telamon and Pegasus leading Puffin home.  

Conditions on the Sunday were considerably lighter and the decision was made to set a long beat to the bridge and a downwind finish at the Club.  Pegasus opted to stay out of the tide on the beat and found a significant lift to lead at the bridge from Thunderer.  The run back against the tide was frustrating with very slow progress at times.  Most of the fleet claimed to have led at some point and all six boats approached the finish almost line abreast.  In the very light conditions the finishing drama unfolded slowly with Pegasus the first to come through from underneath and claim a well deserved victory.  Behind there were several place changes in the last 50 metres as boats were blanketed.  The leeward boats, Sirius and Hermione were the next finishers.  Telamon almost snatched fourth to claim the trophy but was blanketed by Thunderer at the last minute to allow Guillemot to claim fourth and the Anita trophy yet again.

Ajax Summer Series 13 & 14

The end of the summer series brought a good fleet of nine Ajax’s to sail the final two races in sunshine and a variable strength, shifty south westerly wind.  The fleet had the benefit of a Committee boat start with Middle as the substitute pin end.  The course for Race 13 was No 7 (S), Priory Beacon (P), Downham (P), Park Farm Beacon (P) and through Line C with two laps set. 

The start saw a large bunch in the middle of the line moving slowly with Guillemot at the pin end moving faster.  Two boats, Hermione and Dionysius tacked early onto Port to be followed by the rest of the fleet when the wind headed.  The approach to No 7 was difficult with less wind in the channel and the early port tackers benefitting from stronger winds and coming in fast on starboard.  It was clear that the races would include a series of snakes and ladders with significant place changes over short distances.

Guillemot led round the first mark, followed by Hermione and Dionysius.  After theses leaders was Polly Oliver, Sirius and Thunderer.  Most flew spinnakers on the reach to Priory Beacon with the wind shifting west and making it a tight reach.  After Priory, Thunderer tacked early and gained places while Guillemot established a clear lead having found another ladder up the beat.  Behind the leading boats it was a series of snakes for Puffin, Pegasus and Telamon.

The reach to Park Farm Beacon also had its share of snakes and ladders with Dionysius sailing low and finding a slow snake as boats to windward sailed past.  By the time the leading boats were rounding Park Farm Beacon some order seemed to have been established with Guillemot in front chased by Thunderer and Polly Oliver.  Dionysius found the ladder on the next beat and passed Polly Oliver and the four leading boats established a small gap on those behind.  For the second beat to Downham, Thunderer was challenging Guillemot and Polly Oliver was able to get back in front of Dionysius.  These position held until the finish when Dionysius found the ladder, and Polly Oliver the snake to reverse their positions.  Behind these Hermione held of Puffin, Sirius narrowly beat Pegasus and Telamon with a crew new to Ajax’s the final boat.

The second race had the same early course with the down river mark set as Prof (P), followed by a beat to ODM (S) and then the same finish via Park Farm Beacon (P).  The start was notable for Dionysius luffing beyond head to wind to get round the pin end (Middle) causing problems for both Pegasus and Polly Oliver.  Guillemot managed to stay above the fracas and establish an early lead.  Hermione again started well and led the boats that tacked off early with Polly Oliver and Guillemot heading towards the channel.  Again the final stages of the approach to No7 were problematical with Guillemot again managing to avoid the snakes.  She led round followed by a group of Hermione, Dionysius and Polly Oliver.  On the beat to Downham Polly Oliver was able to get close to Guillemot but had to settle for rounding behind.  On the reach to Prof Dionysius and Polly Oliver luffed higher and were almost caught by a faster lower sailing Thunderer.  On the next leg Polly Oliver found her own snake by taking early on a small shift allowing both Thunderer and Guillemot to sail through.  On the run to Park Farm Beacon Thunderer almost caught Guillemot.  The final leg also had its share of snakes and ladders with both Thunderer and Dionysius having to tack to lay the line, loosing the wind to allow Polly Oliver to catch up, only to find enough to leave the final places unchanged.  Behind the leading four boats Pegasus led Sirius home.   

The final results look as if a clear pecking order was established, that was not the case and on each leg there were places changes as the wind varied in strength and direction.  Perhaps Royal Harwich at its most frustrating but the two challenging races brought the Summer Series to a excellent conclusion.

The two wins on the final day helped Guillemot secure the summer series from Thunderer and Polly Oliver.

Races 13 & 14 Results: Guillemot 1,1; Thunderer 2,2; Dionysius 3,3; Polly Oliver 4,4; Hermione 5,7; Pegasus 8,5;  Sirius 7,6; Puffin 6,9; Telamon 9,8.

Ajax Summer Series 11 & 12

Five boats assembled at the start at Clamp House.
The wind was force 2-3 blowing straight down the river and the weather was fine.

The course was a run down to Stratton, followed by a beat back up to Bay followed by a run back down the river to finish on a line at Stratton.

Thunderer made the best start at the committee boat end on the North shore on Starboard gybe. She was being crewed by the owner’s son, fresh back from a five year stint in Australia where he had not been on a sailing boat of any sort.

The decision was taken that the owner would organise the spinnaker while the son steered downwind. 

This was a mistake, as the spinnaker was hoisted 5 times with 4 major foul ups (and some bad language) before a successful launch on the fifth attempt.

By this time Thunderer had gone from first to last.  As the fleet approached the leeward mark Telamon made the mistake of bearing away to get on the inside at the mark.  Thunderer rolled over the top of her and rounded third behind Guillemot and Puffin. There were some very large shifts on the beat and a fairly strong ebb against, so a lot of place changing occurred.

At the top mark Guillemot lead followed by Telamon then Pegasus, Thunderer and Puffin. Thunderer rounded and went out to windward of the others and had a more successful spinnaker launch and rolled over Telamon and Pegasus into second place with Puffin doing similar going from fifth to third..

Places at the finish were Guillemot, Thunderer, Puffin, Pegasus and Telamon.

The second race was started from Collimer buoy with a course to Shotley horse, beat up the Stour to Bristol Buoy, a run back to Shotley horse and beat back up the river to finish at Bay.

Thunder got the best start at the leeward end of the line.  She extended on the reach to Shotley horse and rounded Shotley horse with a lead of 100 yards.

On the beat, Guillemot got a huge lift which brought her up to within 30 yards of Thunderer. Thunderer then made 2 mistakes. She overstood on tacking out to the windward mark and also forgot until the last minute that it was a rounding to Starboard.
All this meant that Guillemot rounded 2 boat lengths behind.
With superior spinnaker handling on the run, she got the inside overlap at Shotley horse and the race was won there. Guillemot and Thunderer went all down the reach to Collimer never more than 2 boat lengths apart and Guillemot won by about 4 boat lengths at the finish after 90 minutes of racing!

There was a significant gap behind, but Telamon and Pegasus had a close ding dong all the way with Telamon edging it at the end with Puffin a little way behind.
An excellent days racing all round. Thanks to Race officer John Brooke and his team who did an excellent job.
Places at the finish. Guillemot, Thunderer, Telamon, Pegasus, Puffin.

Ajax Summer Series 9 & 10 

 5 Ajax's joined in for racing from the club line on Sunday.

The course was line A, 7  to Port, Prof to Port, line A, 2 Laps, with the wind currently WSW forecast to veer due West, 8-10Kts.

Typically the wind refused to veer for the first race, giving typically shifty conditions to sort the clear-headed from the hung-overs. The Williams in Thunderer were clearly sober as they sailed an excellent 1st race, leading from the start and never challenged. PollyOliver with Pete Smallwood sitting in for Mike Clayton took a while to shakedown and get revved up, while both Guillemot (just Tim and Kelvin on board) and Puffin (David and Lynn Pearce with Stuart Miller) took turns at challenging for 2nd, and taking each others wind. Pegasus (David
Kerridge) was still crew training, starting both races, without really threatening the retst of the fleet.

For the 2nd race, it was PollyOlivers turn to lead from the start, and although Puffin briefly took the lead at Prof with some nice off-wind speed, team Portway Smallwood picked the shifts upwind to open up a safe lead to the finish. Thunderer recovered from a poor start, while Guillemot showed consistency to score another 3rd place, apparently enjoying the increased wind that came with the eventual veer to the West.

Some really close racing in both races, particularly for 2nd-4th places, and all over in time for Sunday Lunch.

Results: Thunderer (14) 1,2  PollyOliver (17) 2,1  Guillemot (20) 3,3 Puffin (23) 4,4  Pegasus (29) 5,5

Ajax Summer Series 7 & 8

Apologies for a late report.  Five boats came to the line on Sunday 16th July.  The course for Race 7 was a beat to Mulberry, and run back against the tide to Cat House, with a second beat and run and a downwind finish.  With a flooding tide Thunderer started on the club shore, Polly Oliver in the middle and Guillemot, Dionysius and Telamon towards the outer distance.  Guillemot had the early advantage, but there was much ducking by port hand boats in the early stages of the beat.  Guillemot eventually managed to find a lift on port to lead around Mulberry with Thunderer second and Polly Oliver third.  On the run into the tide the boats closed up, but no overlaps were achieved and so the places remained unchanged for the second beat and run to the finish with Dionysius coming home fourth  and Telamon fifth.  
For the second race a slightly shorter beat to Downham was chosen, with the rest of the course unchanged.  The first beat was sailed in a marginally stronger wind.  At the start Polly Oliver forced Telamon and Guillemot away from the outer distance with Guillemot being called over.  Polly Oliver led up the first beat from Thunderer and Telamon with Dionysius in fourth.  On the run, with a slacker tide Polly Oliver increased the lead and covered Thunderer as the second beat changed to a fetch with a large shift of the wind towards the southwest.   Telamon held on for third with a battle for fourth between Guillemot and Dionysius, your correspondent was not able to confirm the final outcome of this.  
Results:  Polly Oliver 3,1; Thunderer 2,2; Guillemot 1,5?; Telamon 5,3; Dionysius 4,4? 

Ajax Summer Series 5 & 6

Five boats came to the line on Sunday 9th July.  The forecast was unpromising with a southerly wind likely to make any windward legs short and shifty, but in reality there was sufficient east in the direction to allow for some good beats in Race 5 and longer beats for Race 6 when the sea breeze filled in.  With sunshine what had looked unpromising turned out to be an excellent days racing with two close and exciting races.

All five boats had won races this year so it was clear that competition would be tight.  For Race 5 the fleet had a close reach to Park Bight, a beat to Grog returning through the line to Priory Beacon with finally a beat to Berners and then a run to the finish.  Guillemot and Thunderer started to windward and despite having more tide against them this tactic paid and these two led Polly Oliver and Telamon around Park Bight with Teal just behind.  Guillemot tacked off and Thunderer stood on – initially this looked a poor decision as Thunderer found a wind stream that headed her off whilst behind Polly Oliver and Telamon were pointing higher.  When the wind did shift Thunderer was able to tack out and managed to lead Guillemot around Grog with Telamon up to third.

Thunderer extended away on the run with Polly Oliver and Telamon battling for third.  Thunderer and Guillemot had clear first and second at Park Bight with Telamon gaining the inside berth ahead of Polly Oliver.  Positions remained unchanged on the beat to Berners where Polly Oliver dropped back to 5th behind Teal having caught the pole with her mainsail.  Teal then took advantage of the inexperienced crew in Telamon to snatch third on the line.

For Race 6 the sea breeze filled in and the course was set as Grog, back through the line to Priory Beacon with two beats to Grog and a running finish.  Guillemot and Thunderer chose the north shore with the remaining three boats on the southerly side.  The north shore paid with Guillemot leading around Grog, followed by Thunderer and Polly Oliver.  Thunderer again went well under spinnaker and was able to sail over Guillemot with the boats level as they approached Priory Beacon.  After some confusion in Guillemot about the side the post was to be rounded Thunderer led with Polly Oliver following Guillemot around.  Polly Oliver immediately tacked off and was able to benefit from a lift along the shore and hold off Thunderer when she also tacked back on to starboard.  Positions remained close up the beat with Polly Oliver rounding Grog ahead of Thunderer with Guillemot close behind.  There was then a small gap before Teal rounded ahead of Telamon.  These places remained until the finish.

Results:  Thunderer 1,2; Guillemot 2,3; Polly Oliver 5,1; Teal 3,4; Telamon 4,5

Ajax Summer Series 3 & 4

Unfortunately, summer holidays seemed to be happening as, despite the beautiful sailing conditions, only 3 boats appeared on the start line.

There was a clamp house start. The force 2-3 breeze was blowing straight down Buttermans bay. The course was Collimer, No1, Stratton, No3, Stratton and back to clamp house line.

With a running start, Thunderer made the best start on the north side of the river. She got a good puff shortly after and comfortably lead at Collimer from Guillemot and Sirius. She was now in a different wind and extended the lead to about 400 yards by No 1.

The course back to Stratton was a beat initially and Thunderer approached the Trimley bank at about 45 degrees but then appeared a huge lift which allowed her to point up to the mark in shallow water against the fast ebbing tide.

On looking astern, Guillimot and Sirius were pointing straight at the mark without the initial header.

As Thunderer approached Stratton there was another header meaning that Thunderer had to make 4 more short tacks in the shallow water near the buoy.  Guillemot never got the header and arrived at Stratton having not tacked at all, only about 20 yards behind!

As the ebb tide was still strong, Thunderer short tacked up the Levington side with Guillemot trying the Shotley side. 

Positions remained unchanged during that beat and the subsequent run and beat up to the clamp line but Guillemot closed up to finish only 20 yards behind with Sirius in 3rd.

The second race again had a running start. Guillemot got the best start with Sirius and Thunderer behind. All 3 boats rounded Stratton in close order with Guillemot first. Guillimot stayed on the Levington shore for the beat with Thunderer splitting to the Shotley side. This was a bad decision as there was less wind and she got on the wrong side of 2 significant shifts.

Guillemot got the shifts right and extended away. Sirius sailed sensibly and Thunderer tried to make up lost ground by looking for big shifts and compounded her errors so that Sirius was second and Thunderer a poor 3rd!

It was a beautiful day with a lovely sailing breeze. A pity that more boats did not turn up to enjoy it.

Ajax Summer series 1 & 2 

Only 4 boats appeared on the start line, the others presumably exhausted by the Championships the previous week end!

The wind was blowing from the WSW force 2-3.  The course was set with Deer Park as the windward mark and a run down to Park Bight and a reach to Park Farm Beacon and a beat back to the line.

Telamon made the best start. Thunderer followed with Guillemot to windward and behind having tacked after starting at the leeward end.

Telamon slightly overstood the starboard tack to the windward mark having not allowed enough for the strong flood tide. This allowed Thunderer to tack early and just lay and squeeze through into the lead.

Thunderer had a quicker spinnaker hoist and then developed a good lead over the next two laps but on the last lap of 3 elected not to cover the fleet, preferring to stay on the right side of the course in the hope of more breeze. However the rest of the fleet got a huge lift on port and Guillemot was dead even with Thunderer as she got back to the middle on Starboard. Thunderer rounded first.

The run was very close with Thunderer  just getting to the leeward mark first and then after 2 close tacks, Thunderer was able to prevent Guillemot tacking for the line first and therefore won by 2 boat lengths.

The wind shifted to the right between the races and the course was altered with Priory buoy becoming the windward mark. 
However, by the start the wind had shifted left again making the beat a 1 tack affair. 

Phil Mayhew in Dionysius made the best start at the leeward end of the line.  Guillemot had started to windward in less breeze with Dionysius and Thunderer to leeward and able to lay the windward mark on Port in 1 tack.

At the mark Dionysius had sagged off to leeward in a different wind stream. Guillemot and Thunderer were level with Guillemot on the inside. She rounded first and gradually pulled away over 2 laps to get a very comfortable win over Thunderer , then Telamon and Dionysius who had a close battle all the way round.
Guillemot  2, 1
Thunderer  1, 2
Telamon    3, 3
Dionysius  4, 4

Ajax National Championships 2017

There were nine entries for the 2017 Ajax class championships sailed in Dovercourt Bay, Harwich from 16th to 18th June.  Conditions were ideal for racing in the bay with the first day providing a shifty west north west wind from the shore that provided opportunities upwind for overtaking, with the second two days sailed in a sea breeze from the south.

The first race was probably the most dramatic with a number of place changes.  Telamon led at the first mark and was caught by Thunderer on the run.  On the second beat Polly Oliver gained the lead and held on to take the win with Telamon second and Thunderer third.  Race 2 was set as an triangle, sausage course.  Thunderer won the start with Polly Oliver looking lost on port and over the line.  At the windward mark Puffin, Telamon and Guillemot were in contention.  Thunderer had a comfortable lead and with the next group of boats going wide at the gybe mark Polly Oliver was able to gybe inside and gain second place.  Guillemot extracted herself first from the group of boats and held on for third place.

The final race of the day had a slight pin end advantage and Polly Oliver ducked under Guillemot to win the pin with Thunderer starting closer to the Committee Boat.  A shift on the first beat allowed Polly Oliver to tack clear and lead round the first mark followed by Thunderer and Dionysius.  The first two boats remained clear but there was a tight battle for third with Dionysius loosing out to both Telamon and Guillemot on the short beat to the finish.

Day two started with a light westerly wind.  Guillemot started at the Committee Boat end and went right up the beat and Polly Oliver led the remaining boats up the left side.  As the windward mark approached Guillemot took advantage of a favourable shift to lead round the mark with Polly Oliver second and the consistent Thunderer third.  On the run the wind died and the sea breeze filled in.  This did not alter the places with Guillemot holding on to win and Polly Oliver second.

After a short break to allow the new wind to settle Race 5 was started.  Polly Oliver again led away from the start with Thunderer and Guillemot behind.  Teal was also in the mix and at the second windward mark rounding these three boats were close.  Thunderer managed to get away down wind with a slick spinnaker hoist with Guillemot in third.  For the final race of day two Thunderer had the best start and led from start to finish.  Polly Oliver was again over the line avoiding an aggressive Telamon but was able to recover to second by the windward mark by benefitting from a favourable shift on the right hand side of the beat.  This left the overall championship position as advantage Polly Oliver with Thunderer needing to win both races on the final day.  It was also close for third between Telamon and Guillemot.

The final days sailing was sunshine and a force three sea breeze from the start time of the first race.  The bay was alive with boats, including the classic yacht regatta.  For race seven three boats had good starts, Polly Oliver, Thunderer and Telamon.  Telamon was able to lead around the first mark and with Polly Oliver covering Thunderer up the second beat Telamon held on to win and by keeping Thunderer back in third Polly Oliver was able to secure the championship with a race to spare.

The final race was again led by Polly Oliver for the first lap but she overstood the windward mark on the second beat allowing Thunderer to take the lead which she kept to the finish.  Behind these two Telamon confirmed her third place with another third.

The championships were well organised by the Royal Harwich Yacht Club and with the weather and the wind conditions being ideal for racing in the sheltered waters of Dovercourt Bay.  The crews of the leading boats were:

Polly Oliver – Mike Clayton, Bob Portway and John Gill

Thunderer – John Williams, Hugh Williams, James Williams

Telamon – Gordon Sutton, Mike Moore, Philip Codling

The overall results are shown below:

Rank Boat Sail No 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Nett

1st Polly Oliver 17 1.0 (2.0) 1.0 2.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 11.0

2nd Thunderer 14 (3.0) 1.0 2.0 3.0 2.0 1.0 3.0 1.0 13.0

3rd Telamon 61 2.0 4.0 3.0 (7.0) 5.0 3.0 1.0 3.0 21.0

4th Guillemot 20 (6.0) 3.0 4.0 1.0 3.0 4.0 4.0 5.0 24.0

5th Teal 26 5.0 (8.0) 6.0 4.0 4.0 5.0 5.0 4.0 33.0

6th Dionysius 71 4.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 (7.0) 7.0 7.0 7.0 40.0

7th Sirius 34 (7.0) 7.0 7.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 44.0

8th Puffin 23 8.0 6.0 8.0 (10.0 DNC) 10.0 DNC 10.0 DNC 8.0 8.0 58.0

9th Indefatigable 38 (10.0 DNC) 10.0 DNC 10.0 DNC 10.0 DNC 10.0 DNC 10.0 DNC 10.0 DNC 10.0 DNC 70.0

Short Sharp Series

We had an excellent Short Sharp Series brilliantly organised by Race Officer George Finch.

Six races were planned and six were sailed.
Six boats appeared at the start line after heavy thunderstorm rain which had dampened spirits somewhat.
The sky then turned blue and a light SE breeze appeared and the sun cream was required after all.
Guillemot led the first race from the start after Thunderer and several others tried to be too clever at the pin end and got away very slowly.
The wind gradually veered to the South during the day and increased which allowed the RO to vary the courses very considerably.
The wind, now off the South shore became very variable in strength and direction which allowed big gains and losses.
Almost all the boats had their turn at the front and the racing was very tight.
Thunderer had at least 2 senior moments where she set off to the wrong mark, and Teal had a win disallowed for missing out the line for the second lap.
Gordon in Telamon won the event with 11 points after the most consistent series, Thunderer  and Guillemot were tied on 12 and the next 2 boats were tied on 13.
Well done Gordon and crew for a popular win.
Thanks again to George and crew for their excellent work on the committee boat.

Ajax Spring Series Races 11 & 12

Just three Ajax’s raced on Sunday 4th June with a fourth (Mars) joining in the Nancy Blackett flotilla and having a gentle family sail to Harwich and back.  The racing boats were grateful for Ed Harrison who came down in Lion 2 to start the fleet for both races.  Race 1 was a short affair with a run (that became a reach) to No 3, a  beat (that became a fetch) to No 4 and a run (that was a run) to Stratton.  Polly Oliver led away from the start and was never headed although Teal showed some signs of her form for later in the day to pull away from Sirius to finish second.
Race 2 was a one sided beat to Orwell, a reach to Shotley Horse followed by a beat to Parkstone with the return via Shotley Horse and Collimer.  Again Polly Oliver controlled the start and led for the first part of the race.  In the Stour Sirius caught the first of the flood tide and a lift to come through Teal and all three boats were very close at Parkstone.  Downwind Teal was able to cover Polly Oliver forcing a number of gybes for both boats as they returned to Shotley Horse where they rounded abreast.  Teal then sailed high and easily passed Polly Oliver with superior boat to gain a small lead.  This was reduced slightly by Collimer after Polly Oliver flew her spinnaker on the reach, but Teal rounded ahead and was able to tack to cover on the long fetch to the finish.  The victory by Teal confirmed her second place in the series ahead of the absent Telamon.
Results  Teal 2,1  Polly Oliver 1,2 Sirius 3,3

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