Falmouth Week  -  Ajax Class 2008



High winds, rain, a little sun and strange adventures with the windward mark featured in a good weeks racing for the Ajax keelboat class in Falmouth Week.  28 boats entered, including eight visitors from the East Coast fleet at Royal Harwich YC.


Wind and rain meant the Angela Beaman Trophy on Saturday was cancelled, so dressing up gear has to be put away until next year.   19 boats started the Helford race on Sunday in a fresh westerly force 5 with stronger gusts.  Starting from Water Tower the fleet beat over to Falmouth but could not find the windward mark.  Puffin (David Pearce) looked back down the beat, and spotted a diminutive inflatable mark.  They set their kite, sailed back, rounded it and set off round the course.  The rest of the fleet did not see the mark.  Non-plussed, they sailed up into Falmouth and then headed for St Mawes where the next mark was.  Meanwhile Pegasus (David Kerridge) headed for Mylor, found the mark, rounded it and continued racing.  Puffin continued round the course, followed by Pegasus and a number of other boats, and eventually five boats were given finishing signals.  Complicated rules issues ensued, but the fleet agreed to ignore the race as far as the Ajax series was concerned. 


The Mylor race on Monday brought slightly less wind from the south west.  From a start by St Just, the fleet had a long beat out of the harbour to Headland by Pendennis.  Avocet (Doug Sharps), Atalanta (Alex Davey) and Amalthea (Roger Wood) and Diomedes (Richard Beaman) set the pace with Samaki (Alan Williams) and Ajax (David Mathewson) chasing.  Avocet led round Headland, but slipped to 4th with a spinnaker problem.  The windward mark, which (strangely) did not have to be rounded, made a fleeting appearance towed by a cruiser.  On the last run Athena (David Liddington) broached while gybing and filled with water.  She was towed in and recovered unscathed.  After two hours racing in tough conditions the first six boats finished within a few seconds of each other.  Atalanta won from Amalthea, Avocet, Diomedes, Samaki and Ajax.  A great race to make amends for Sunday. 


Racing on Tuesday and Wednesday was cancelled because of high winds. 


St Mawes day produced a gentle westerly 2-3, sun and a race in the bay.  All 28 boats turned out for an absorbing tactical race on a trapezoid course.  On the first beat a shift gave an advantage to those who went right.  Atalanta (now helmed by Chris Brown) led at the weather mark from Ajax and Guillemot (David Mayne).  Down the run there was more wind left, and at the leeward mark Ajax led from Guillemot and Pegasus.  Up the beat right was best again and Ajax led from Atalanta and Amalthea at the windward mark.  Up the final beat Guillemot went left, played the shifts and led from Atalanta and Ajax at the weather mark, with Amalthea and Pegasus chasing.  This was how it finished after the run and a long reach into St Mawes.


On Friday (Royal Cornwall day) the fleet sailed two races in Carrick Roads in a southerly 3-4.  In the first race the fleet beat from Water Tower, short tacking down the St Mawes shore all the way to Zone, by St Anthony’s Light.  After 40 minutes Amalthea led round the mark from Avocet, Ajax and Athena.  Ajax got past Avocet on the run and this was how the race finished at the leeward mark.


In the second race, the fleet beat to a mark north of Black Rock.  Most of the fleet tacked all the way down the St Mawes shore, but Atalanta and Avocet crossed early to approach the mark on starboard.  Amalthea led the fleet out from St Mawes shore.  Atalanta crossed her but could not lay the mark, tacked and then tacked inside Amalthea to make her rounding.  However, Atalanta picked up the mooring line, which became caught between her keel and rudder.  Unable to free herself, she went slowly downwind towing the mark as the rest of the fleet approached on port, bearing off to try and catch the mark and round it.  Amalthea led round the leeward mark, and although some boats went down the St Mawes shore, it was the Falmouth shore that paid.  On the last beat from Vilt to a finish between Governor and Black Rode, the wind eased but then filled in from Pendennis and lifted the boats on the Pendennis side, enabling Athena to take her first win of the week from Thunderer (John Williams) and Amalthea, with Guillemot fourth.


Saturday produced driving rain and a fresh southerly so only 16 boats turned out.  Once again, it was a beat down the St Mawes shore to a mark north of Black Rock.  Avocet led from Athena, Ajax, Samaki and Thunderer.  On the run, St Just mark was hidden behind a moored tug.  Pegasus spotted it and gybed early to get to third.  However, on the next leg Avocet and Aquila (Lindsey Thomas) gained by heading straight for the leeward mark whereas most of the fleet headed for Penarrow.  At the leeward mark Avocet led from Athena and Aquila.  After a long hard race these positions remained the same, with Thunderer fourth and Ajax fifth. 


A keenly contested week produced a different winner for each race.  Overall, Amalthea (Roger and Claire Wood) on the week with consistent sailing.  They won narrowly from Athena, ending David Liddington’s eleven year run of wins in Falmouth Week.  Avocet was third and Ajax fourth.


On the social side, the fleet went tenpin bowling on Saturday and Puffin’s crew triumphed in both men’s and women’s events.  On Tuesday and Wednesday the Windy Golfers Society was activated, with wins for John Williams and Bob Tate.


There was an excellent dinner at the Kings Head at Ruan Lanihorne on Wednesday and the week concluded with a splendid barbecue and prize-giving on Saturday at Lanhay hosted by Dudley and Simone Kennett.




Overall Results


1          Amalthea         (Roger and Claire Wood)               (2,3,4,1,(7))           10 pts

2          Athena             (David Liddington)                          ((DNF),1,6,4,2)     13 pts

3          Avocet             (Doug and Ian Sharps)                    (3,7,(13),3,1)         14 pts

4          Ajax                (David and Kim Mathewson)          ((6),6,3,2,5)           16 pts

5          Thunderer       (John Williams)                               ((8),2,7,6,4)           19 pts



James Skellorn

August 2008