Ajax East Coast Championships 2023

 

11 boats sailed the Ajax class East Coast Championship on 23rd to 25th June organised by the Royal Harwich Yacht Club. The fleet included current National Champions Orwell V ( Richard Merriweather, Mark Ingram, and Josh Richardson), and several other past winners including Avocet (Doug Sharps, Richard Chennery, Ian Sharps/Nigel Waller) returning to the fleet after a 12 year gap.  Conditions over the three days were excellent with lots of sunshine and generally good winds from the south or southeast with little total influence in the shallow waters of Dovercourt Bay.  In race 1, it was Avocet who made the best start and led the fleet at the windward mark closely followed by Thunderer (John Williams, Hugh Williams, James Williams) with Polly Oliver (Mike Clayton, Bob Portway, Amanda Portway), Teal (Giles Wright, Julian Molyneux, Pete Smallwood) and Orwell VI rounding close together a short distance back.  Orwell VI advanced to third on the first run, but could not close the gap on Avocet and Thunderer.

 

Race 2 saw a different winner with Polly Oliver pulling through on the second best to lead, with the consistent Thunderer again second and Orwell VI third.  Past rivalries between these three have taken the outcome of the Championships to the final race in recent years.  Race three proved to be equally as intriguing with Orwell VI taking the win with Polly Oliver second and Avocet just edging ahead of Thunderer at the finish.  Overall at the end of the first day this left Orwell VI in the lead on 7 points followed by Polly Oliver and Thunderer on 8 with Avocet close behind on 9.

 

Day 2 started more slowly with the fleet held in a Shotley Marina awaiting to the wind to fill in and the barges racing in the Pin Mill barge match to clear the bay.Race 4 proved to be more of the same with Thunderer taking her first win followed by Orwell VI, Polly Oliver and Avocet.  For Race 5 there was some initial timing confusion, and for the re-start the Race Officer (Tom Dixon) moved to the Black Flag.  This caught out Polly Oliver with Thunderer takings her second win to close the gap on Orwell VI and Avocet in third.  There was a second Black Flag start for Race 6 and after a close battle Thunderer passed Orwell VI with Avocet again in third.  This left Thunderer one point ahead of Orwell VI at the end of the day with the final two races on Sunday.

 

Sunday gave us the lightest conditions of the event with under 10 knots of wind from the south east.  The day belonged to Pegasus (Chris Mayhew, Belinda Joslin, Jackie McKellar) who found speed through the waves passing Orwell VI at the end of the first run of Race 7 and leading from the start in Race 8.  In race 7 Thunderer managed to recover from a poor start to find the right track on the first run to round in third, overhauling Orwell VI on the second beat.  In the final race both Thunderer and Orwell VI were held at the Committee boat by Polly Oliver allowing Avocet a clear run chasing Pegasus.  At the end Orwell VI pulled through to second with Thunderer passing Polly Oliver at the line.

 

Overall this gave Thunderer the win on 14 points, followed by Orwell VI on 15 and Avocet on 20 demonstrating yet again the competitive nature of the fleet.  At the prize going on the Club lawn Richard Merriweather thanked Tom Dixon and his team of mark layers for making the event possible.