Ajax 23 One Design Keel Boat – day racing at its best!
Class Captain - Mike Clayton

The Ajax fleet at the Royal Harwich Yacht club has a long history with some boats within the fleet for the last 50 years.  The racing is frequently very close and provides competition and excitement both for regular top-finishers, crews aspiring to be at the top and sailors who want a close and fun race wherever they may finish.  

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).  Each club holds the National Championships in alternate years.  In 2018 two Royal Harwich boats travelled to St Mawes for the championships with one, Polly Oliver staying on for Falmouth week.

At the Royal Harwich Yacht Club we race on almost every weekend in the sailing season, making full use of the River Orwell, as well as going out to sea or up the lovely River Stour.   An attraction of Ajax sailing is that we do not need a support boat 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 boat!

2020 Reports

Ajax race report 11 October 2020

The weather promised to be NNW 12knots gusting a bit more. It seemed like considerably more to the scribe who slipped all over the boat many times.

Race 1

Graham Ireland started us from Clamp House (thank you Graham for coming to help us)

Course: Collimer S, (Trimley P, Stratton P)x3 finish Trimley.

Gannet broke her gooseneck 1 min before the start to give everyone else a chance whilst undertaking running repairs. The view of the scribe was therefore from afar. The run to Collimer favoured the northern shore but Hermione, with congenital knowledge of the river, took the southern shore – it didn’t pay off, Storm Petrel compromised in the middle. Indefatigable crept into a lead which was never seriously challenged. Hermione sacrificed some of her rubbing strake to Storm Petrel. The race was shortened after 2 laps as no more place changes seemed likely. Gannet was finished “on the water” to avoid tedium.

Race 2: Start Trimley (Stratton P Trimley P) x3 Stratton P Line A (thank you again, Graham)

Gannet had the best of the first lap but misread the shifts/gusts in the second. Gannet S dented  Dionysius’s P rubbing strake. By the end of the second lap Indi had crept ahead by a few boat lengths and was swept away from the pursuing gaggle by the flood. The gaggle (everyone else) spent time reminding each other of the down wind and leeward mark rules. There were multiple place changes during this lap a state which continued until the finish. The last leg was a beat favouring starboard tack (slightly), the Pin Mill effect was marginal but the covering and gust seeking varied in its effectiveness with all boats holding a 2nd position some of the time. Indefatibagle was to some extent reeled in, sailing to the outer end of the line. It is a matter of great regret to the scribe that he did not finish the race between Bay and 4 when she was in 2nd.

An exhilarating, exhausting and good days low water racing

Tim Archer

Race 1

 

Race 2

Indefatigable

38

Indefategable

Dionysius

71

Storm Petrel

Storm Petrel

65

Hermione

Hermione

18

Dionysius

Puffin

23

Gannet

Gannet

63

Puffin


 

 

 





Ajax Report Sunday 20th September

6 boats took advantage of a sunny day and a good NE wind to have 2 races on a course set by Bob Tate, with two beats each lap.  The course was a fetch to No 6, a beat to Prof, a fetch though the line to Deer Park, a beat to Priory Beacon with a broad reach to No 7 and then the line.  In Race 1 Polly Olver led at the first mark and narrowly avoided being run down by a right of way yacht as she crossed the channel.  At Prof the wind dies allowing Indefatigable to round first and Polly Oliver to do a turn for trying to go through a non-extent gap.  Dionysius gave chase with Polly Oliver managing to hold on to third on the reach to Deer Park.  Positions remained unchanged on the next beat and on the fetch down river Polly Oliver went low and managed to get past the duelling Dionysius and Indefatigable and stay ahead, negotiating a shortened course as a freighter sped up the channel behind the leading boats.  Dionysius won the due to finish second with (I think) Caprice 4th ahead of Thunderer and Gannet.

Race two saw a more challenging beat to Prof with the fleet widespread.  Gannet was sure they would arrive first, but in fact Polly Oliver managed to find a shift at the right time to round with a good lead, followed by Thunderer and Indefatigable.  Despite the large lead the low course to No 6 saw them headed on the second round and Thunderer managed to cross ahead and lead round Prof.  Polly Oliver sailed trough underneath on the reach to Deer Park and stretched away for a second time and a second win.  Thunderer had a torrid time on the shifts on the beat to Priory Beacon allowing Indefatigable to come through.  Behind the family duel between Caprice and Dionysius was resolved in favour of Dionysius with Gannet close behind.

Results  Polly Oliver 1,1; Indefatigable 3,2; Dionysius 2,4; Thunderer 5,3; Caprice 4,5; Gannet 6,6


Ajax Report 13th September 2020

5 boats raced with the return of Indefatigable after a few weeks break and with Doc Brown in Caprice with two grandchildren, with Thomas Davey on the helm.  In the absence of the Class Captain the responsibility for course setting was passed upwards to the RC-Sailing and what a disaster that was.  The first race consisted of reaches and a fetch with one gybe and no tacks.  To be fair the wind direction from the WSW also played its part. For future weeks the Class Captain needs a more suitable deputy who can include a windward leg on the course – please apply direct to Tim if you have such skills.

Race 1 was a drag race from the start line at Foxes Bottom to Colimer with Dionysius looking strong from the start at the windward end and Polly Oliver trying to squeeze out ahead from the leeward end of the line.  Dionysius led at Colimer with Polly Oliver, Puffin and Caprice in short order behind.  Indefatigable was discovering that a quick scrub before racing was insufficient for several weeks worth of weed growth, a lesson everyone learns in their turn.  On the fetch to Orwell from Trimley Puffin went low and was headed allowing Caprice through.

Race 2 did have a beat from Stratton to No 4, although most of the leg was sailed on port tack.  Polly Oliver led from the start but the course involved a second lap and as the fleet approached Stratton for this the wind died with Polly Oliver, Puffin and Dionysius becalmed with about 100m to go to the buoy.  Caprice almost managed to sail around them to take the lead, but as the race re-started at this point Polly Oliver just managed to round first with Puffin, Dionysius and Caprice all together a couple of boat lengths behind.  On the beat to the finish Dionysius managed to pass Puffin.

Results:  Polly Oliver 2,1; Dionysius 1,2; Puffin 4,3; Caprice 3;4; Indefatigable 5,DNF


Ajax race report 6th September 2020

The wind was fickle but mostly from the West.

Banter on the pontoon did not quite reach its usual heights in the absence of Gordon (absent on romantic duties)

The class captain (scribe, course setter, agony aunt)  shared Gannet with a  senior helm (Uncle Bob) and set a course to Mulberry via Downham and back to Cathouse. This proved only moderately unsatisfactory.

Self starting from Mothership Gannet seemed to work and it is believed no one was significantly over the line. On the first beat there was considerable jockeying for position with Telemon taking an early 360. The hard fought jockeying was  worthless   as all was determined by the wind shifts and holes. Some boats were so unlucky.

Back to the leeward mark and all was still to play for. At the end of the next lap there were 7 boats within 2 lengths of each other at the leeward mark. Telemon (M Moore) kindly acknowledged an overlap by Gannet who managed not to fluff the short last beat to the line. A triumph for seniority!

The next race was much the same with so many unlucky competitors. Caprice (G Mayhew – junior agricultural rep -  crewed by J Mckellar – fleet apprentice at present) stormed away and was never caught despite wily tactics (banging the corners hunting for wind) by Thunderer (Williams bros). Hermione (M & M Prosser had a competitive first lap whilst Gannet, now in the hands of the scribe, battled with Puffin (Pearce ensemble) and Dionysius (P Mayhew – senior agricultural representative). In the end Gannet sailed into no wind and kindly let Puffin sail away. Thought  Dionysius sadly sailed into even less on the South bank.

At the end even the unlucky ones admitted it could have been worse.

Results:

 

Race 1

 

Race 2

1

63

Gannet

52

2

52

Caprice

14

3

71

Dionysius

23

4

61

Telemon

61

5

14

Thunderer

63

6

23

Puffin

71

7

18

Hermione

18

 

 

 

 

 Ajax Race Report . Autumn 1 & 2, 23rd August 2020*

OoD’s Doug Sharps and Richard Chenery elected to start racing from line C (Yacht Zeeroep and a yellowy-orange  mooring buoy somewhere upstream of Buoy No 7) . This was so that they could drink tea eat cake etc whilst cheering on the hard working competitors. The courses were windward leeward set in conjunction with the Rear commodore sailing and mostly avoided altercations with dinghies in the scatter race. We went to no 8 buoy which needed accurate chart work for some members of the fleet.

The first start was reasonably well behaved though Caprice (52, G Mayhew) was somewhere near the first mark as he had no radio (memo to Geoff for future racing). At the first mark Polly Oliver (17 M Clayton) was 5 lengths ahead of Thunderer (14 J Williams) whilst Caprice was slowly undoing the radio error and finished battling it out with Puffin (23, D & L Pearce). Hermione (18, M Prosser) watched from the gentleman’s position.  Thunderer sped through (?why) on the run to lead the first round by 3 lengths. Polly Oliver read the unpredictable windshifts with great skill on the next upwind leg and had a lead sufficient to keep the down wind speed merchant at bay. The battle for the next place was resolved in favour of Caprice whilst Hermione continued her watching brief.

The next race saw a brilliant start from Polly Oliver, disallowed by the RO’s who should clearly have visited Specsavers. This enabled Caprice to romp away whilst Polly  Oliver, Thunderer and Puffin battled out the next place (Hermione had retired for tea). Thunderer slipped past Polly Oliver at the last mark!!! 

*The Scribe accepts responsibility for all inaccuracies, none of which will be changed.

 

Position

Race 1

Race 2

1

17

52

2

14

14

3

52

17

4

23

23

5

18

 

 


Ajax White Sail Races 1 and 2 – 12 July 2020

Five Ajaxes came to the start of the first race of 2020 on a warm sunny afternoon.  With a moderate south easterly breeze, the course was from Line B to Grog, then Prof, back to Grog, then a long run to Priory Beacon and a beat to the finish on Line A.  Because of social distancing rules crews were restricted to members of the same household and spinnakers were not allowed.  The fleet comprised three husband and wife teams and two father and son(s).

Thunderer, Indefatigable and Guillemot started at the club end of the line, while Puffin and Hermione avoided the tide on the far shore.  Guillemot was able to squeeze up to windward ahead of Indefatigable immediately after the start, while Thunderer bore away for clear air.  Despite some interesting wind shifts on the beat across Potters Bank Guillemot managed to round Grog ahead of Indefatigable and Thunderer, with Puffin and Hermione some distance behind.  The places stayed the same for the rest of the race.

The course was the same for the second race.  Hermione decided one race was enough, but with the tide slacking the others all started at the channel end of the line.  This time Indefatigable was able to get ahead at the start and covered Guillemot to round Grog first, followed by Guillemot, Thunderer and Puffin.  Again there were no changes of position, and the fleet finished in that order.  Congratulations to Will Anderson and his sons for winning on their first day racing an Ajax.

Race 1: Guillemot, Indefatigable, Thunderer, Puffin, Hermione.

Race 2: Indefatigable, Guillemot, Thunderer, Puffin.

2018 Reports available by clicking here!

2019 Reports available by clicking here!