Falmouth Week 2010—Ajax Class
The 24 strong Ajax keelboat class produced some of the most competitive racing in Falmouth Week. The national championships two weeks earlier had shown the strength of the St Mawes fleet. Although there were three boats visiting from the east coast, St Mawes boats took the first five places. The wind stayed northwest almost all the time, and built slowly from 10 knots to nearly 20 knots by the end of the week.
Crews in contention included David Liddington (Athena), whose son Paul returned from Australia to crew for him, Roger and Clare Wood (Amalthea), who won the week two years ago and were runners up in the championship, David Mathewson returning to the helm of Ajax, John Howard and Richard Beaman (Aeolus), eager to improve on a disappointing result in the championship and Alan Williams (Samaki), who gave Athena and Aeolus a run for their money last year.
In the Helford Race, Aeolus led around the weather mark from Athena. On the run, Thunderer (John Williams) passed them both, but fell back on the beat. A tricky finish around Trefusis and then into Falmouth harbour pushed Athena back to sixth, and enabled Ajax to take second behind Aeolus. Pegasus (David Kerridge and James Skellorn) was third.
On Monday the Mylor race produced the only southwesterly breeze. The first beat was from Waterloo to Falmouth dock. It was essential to tack along the Trefusis bank. Aeolus led Athena, but Athena passed her on the beat from Bohella to Headland. Athena won from Aeolus, Samaki was third and Amalthea fourth. Tuesday morning brought a fresh westerly, rain and poor visibility and racing was cancelled.
Two races were held on Wednesday in a 10 knot NW breeze. Firstly a short windward/leeward race for the Restronguet race. From a start at Carricknath, Aeolus led from Athena, with Pegasus in pursuit. On the run Athena passed Aeolus and on the approach to Zone, Pegasus passed them both. On the short beat to Carricknath Aeolus got her nose in front of Athena, but when Pegasus tacked across to cover both boats, Aeolus got the worst of it and dropped back to third behind Athena.
In the second race for Falmouth Town, Ajax correctly chose the Pendennis shore to lead from Athena with Pintail (Richard Bown), Aeolus and Pegasus in pursuit. Around the leeward mark, Athena led the beat up the St Mawes shore with Ajax and Pegasus scrapping for second. They were pressed by Samaki, and Teal and Aquila made big gains. However, Pegasus and Aquila had misread the course, putting Pegasus back to sixth and causing Aquila to retire. Another finish in the fickle breezes around Trefusis and Falmouth harbour saw Athena win from Samaki, with Ajax third and Amalthea fourth.
Thursday’s Royal Cornwall race saw an increase in the wind. With the ebb still running, frenetic short tacking up the St Mawes shore was required. Athena did a turn for a foul on Amalthea, and Ajax got the best of the short tacking, rounding ahead of Aeolus and Athena. Athena passed the other two downwind to take the lead. At the top of the second beat, Athena opened up a 250m lead on Ajax and Aeolus, and despite a close battle for second and third, this was how it finished, with Thunderer coming through to fourth at the finish.
Out into the bay for two windward/leeward races on Friday in a fresh norwesterly, Aeolus led around the windward mark from Amalthea, who went into the lead on the run. Aeolus covered Athena carefully. After an incident between them at the last windward mark, Athena took a penalty turn, allowing Samaki into third place. Orion (Jonathan Colley) had her best race, rounding the windward mark with Athena on the second lap, and holding on for sixth place.
In the second race, Athena made a perfect committee boat start and took advantage of a late shift to the right, taking a big lead which gave her a comfortable race win and meant she had won the regatta. Behind her Amalthea went hard left and was second at the weather mark, with Samaki third. Aquila (Lindsey Thomas) at last began to show some form to take a hard won fourth place in a big breeze despite having a light crew. Overall, Aeolus had her nose in front for second place, but there was all to play for between Amalthea, Ajax and Samaki for third place.
Saturday’s Flushing race saw the fleet in the Roads once again. Beating against the ebb, the fleet went up the Pendennis shore, but Amalthea picked the best line, staying clear of Falmouth dock and Trefusis bank, and took a big lead which she held to the finish. Aeolus had a recall but recovered well. Ajax seemed to be doing best on the Pendennis shore, but Aquila was second at the weather mark. These three battled with Athena (with Paul Liddington helming, now the week had been won) for second place, and Aeolus was second, Ajax third and Athena fourth.
In addition to winning the Ajax class, David Liddington and his crew were awarded the West Briton Trophy and the Falmouth Week Trophy for yacht of the week—well-deserved recognition for consistently winning against tough competition.