Over the years the class has had mixed fortunes, the initial inception saw a batch of nine boats on the water within a couple of years. The class continued to grow, with a total of nineteen boats in 1959. However, this coincided with the advent of more modern performance GRP dinghies. Traditional timber-built boats became less attractive and the AODs started to decline.
In 1983 Nigel Daniel purchased AOD No.1 – Whimbrel, the last remaining boat still in its original condition. She continued to sail as the sole representative of the class for another 17 years. But, a chance enquiry by Malcolm Gill resulted in the commissioning of a new AOD in 2000. Boat- builder John Fuge of Golant replicated Whimbrel in great detail to construct the first Axe One Design since the early 1960s. This provided the impetus to resurrect the class, more commissions followed; along with the restoration of two old original boats.
In 2013 the fleet had reached seven boats, the achievement was celebrated with the 60thAnniversary Regatta. A weekend programme of races was conducted, with a regatta cup presented by Rene Drew. Ten years has now passed since that regatta, with the fleet now standing at nine boats, and one more close to completion.
Unusually, the weather looked kindly upon us for the 70th regatta – a weekend of generally warm sunny conditions with light sea breezes. Eight of the nine boat fleet attended, including No.23 from the Solent Division. Unfortunately, due to a clash of events, No.6 also of the Solent Division, had loyalties committed towards the RSYC Beaulieu regatta and was unable to attend.
The programme started off with a river race on Friday the 16th evening, a light sea breeze held long just enough for fleet to complete the course. Eight boats were on the water, although No.26 was suffering from the heat wave. Rapid bailing was necessary to keep her on, rather in the water! A close finish resulted; No.1 came in first, whilst No.21 won on HC. Pimm’s on the Green was rounded off by a pizza evening at the Ship Inn.
Saturday saw the fleet launch from Axe beach for a picnic at Poundspool. The outward passage was a gentle sail in a light southerly, perfectly accompanied by a school of dolphins. Poundspool, a small sheltered cove with a pebble beach, and only accessible by sea, was ideal for lunch. The return trip formed the basis of the passage pursuit race, which was won by No.23. The fleet then returned to the estuary in preparation for the evening river race.
Conditions were again light but sufficient for the AODs, No.22 came out on top, both in line honours and HC. On completion of the race the boats were swiftly packed away in readiness for the prestigious AOD cocktail party. A splendid evening was held at Marandellas, with a wide range of creative cocktails, fortuitously accompanied by supper!
The final day’s programme was modified, the morning race off the beach had become less attractive due to little wind, but of course, nothing to do with the previous evening’s entertainment. So, the boats were launched more latterly on the ebb tide and rafted up on the basin pontoon in preparation for the late afternoon sea race. On leaving the harbour the wind had picked up to a reasonable SW’ly F3. The larger cruiser course was used, providing a long beat out to the SW mark, a challenge to the lighter crewed boats! Come the finish No.22 just squeezed ahead of No.1, whilst No.23 came in first on HC.
This rounded off the racing, leaving just the presentation dinner at the Ship Inn; as customary this was an excellent evening! All in all, a first-rate weekend to celebrate 70 years of the Axe One Design.
Results – (the full results can be viewed on the accompanying race sheet)
60th Anniversary Cup – Line Honours
1st No. 22 Teal – Mike & Jane Calvert
2nd No.1 Whimbrel – Nigel Daniel
3rd No.8 Gemini – Bryan Davis
70th Anniversary Cup – HC
1st No.22 Teal – Mike & Jane Calvert
2nd No.1 Whimbrel – Nigel Daniel
3rd No.23 Gannet – Chris & Julie Ashlett-Brown (Solent Division)
The Originals Cup (three original AODs in existence 1, 6, 8.)
1st No.1 Whimbrel – Nigel Daniel
2nd No.8 Gemini – Bryan Davis
The Passage Pursuit Pot
1st No. 23 Gannet – Chris & Julie Ashlett-Brown (Solent Division)
2nd No. 24 Maflingo – Graham Mather
3rd No. 26 Avocet – Iain Morison & John Attree