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!
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.