Matt Burge and Toby Lewis represent Osprey, win Endeavour Championship

Published on November 2nd, 2014

Essex, Great Britain (November 2, 2014) – Piping their nearest rivals to the post in the final race of the series was just enough for Matt Burge and Toby Lewis representing the Osprey class to secure the 2014 Topper Sailboats-supported Endeavour Championship. A total of 20 one design dinghy champion teams competed in the Rob White-designed Topper Argo on October 31-November 2 to determine the champion of the champions.

With just two point separating the leading two boats (Osprey), and Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) going into today’s final two races, the situations was always going to be close, and indeed, it went right down to the wire.

The penultimate race was sailed in lively conditions that reached 20kts in the gusts. Charlie Roome and Jeremy Stephens (Lark) sailed well and managed win from Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (Streaker) by just one second on the finish line.

A sixth place however, for the Osprey team and a third for the Merlin Rocket boys, meant there was just one place between the leading contenders going into the final race. For the Osprey team to win, they had to finish ahead of the Merlin Rocket team.

The final race showdown was exciting with Ian Dobson and Holly Scott (GP14) establishing an impressive one-minute lead over Mee and Pygall (Merlin Rocket). Dobson and Scott maintained their position to the finish but in the closing stages of the race, Burge and Lewis (Osprey) were back in contention after being buried at the start and were able to take advantage of a favourable shift at the final leeward mark and just managed to beat Mee and Pygall across the line.

Matt Burge chatting about the gripping, final race finish, said: “The Merlin boys were beating us all the way round the race course, but we had a phenomenal last run. We then opted for the opposite leeward gate mark to them, found a nice bit of breeze, tacked on a shift, then slogged our guts out to the finish line. I’ve never hiked so hard and my legs were trembling. We beat them across the line by half a boat length.”

Commenting on his win, Burge added: “Winning the Endeavour Trophy is quite emotional. It has always been the event of all events I’ve wanted to win, so now I feel I can die happy having won it. “

Toby Lewis – four times Endeavour Champion crew – added. “It is great to win it with Matt. We had a tough day today, and a real fight on our hands. It was just an excellent last race. Today was a real case of not giving up. In both races we were buried at times but through sheer determination we pulled through.”

Second placed Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) certainly didn’t make it easy for the eventual winners. Pygall commented: “Yes it was disappointing not to have won but we had a fantastic event. It was the first time I’ve sailed with Matt, and what a great guy he is to sail with. He is a legend really. We worked well together and I think the Argo is the type of boat that rewards teamwork, so yes, we really enjoyed it.”

At 16 years old, Rachel Grayson (Mirror class national champion) is not only one of the youngest helmsmen at this year’s event but according available records, she is also the highest placed female helmsman ever at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club-hosted Endeavour Championship.

Grayson sailing with Nigel Wakefield, who finished the event in sixth place overall, was noted for her extreme skill, professional composure and her consistent performance throughout the weekend. Commenting on her impressive result, ever a modest Grayson concluded: “It was really fun and I cannot believe where we finished. My biggest fear was potentially finishing last in every race, and I really didn’t expect to be any good, particularly as it was also my first time sailing with an asymmetric spinnaker. I did have an amazing crew, so that helped and I probably owe our success to him.”

Overall Results (eight races, 1 discard)
1st Osprey, Matt Burge and Toby Lewis (21pts)
2nd Merlin Rocket, Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (22pts)
3rd GP 14, Ian Dobson and Holly Scott (23pts)
4th Lark, Charlie Roome and Jeremy Stephens (33pts)
5th Streaker, Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (33pts)
6th Mirror, Rachel Grayson and Nigel Wakefield (37pts)

Event websiteComplete results

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Report by Sue Pelling.

Brief history of the Endeavour Trophy
The Endeavour Trophy is a solid silver scale model of the J Class yacht Endeavour presented annually to the Champion of Champions at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouch.

The origin of the trophy stems from Tom Sopwith’s J Class yacht Endeavour, America’s Cup Challenge in 1934. Following a pay dispute and dismissal of his east coast-based professional crew, Sopwith teamed up with ‘Tiny’ Mitchell, the Commodore of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club at the time, to recruit amateur members of the club to form a crew.

Although Endeavour won the first two races against Rainbow, and lost the series, this was the closest England ever came to winning the coveted America’s Cup.

In recognition of this achievement, Robin Judah – respected member of the RCYC –established a series of races for dinghy sailors in order to determine the overall dinghy champion of champions from the UK’s most popular dinghy racing classes. Beecher Moore, former Endeavour crew, and marketing man behind the successful dinghy designer Jack Holt, joined Judah in his quest to run this event and presented for the overall winner, his solid silver scale model of the yacht.

The first invitation-only race took place in 1961 and the winners were Peter Bateman and Keith Musto, representing the International Cadet class. The event is now recognised as one of the ultimate achievement in British dinghy racing.

The competition is exceptionally challenging and those who qualify through winning their own class championship, are given the opportunity to race equally talented sailors in this unique, highly demanding two-day event on the River Crouch.

Given the diverse entry, which includes singlehanded, doublehanded, heavy and lightweight crews, and to ensure the racing is as fair as possible, carefully selected, strict one-designs are chosen for the event. The original idea back in 1961 was to use the club’s own fleet of 15 Royal Corinthian One-Designs but they were considered too specialist and would have placed a perpetual limit on the number of entries. The first event was, therefore, sailed in Enterprises.

Since then numerous classes have been used for the event including GP14s, Laser 2s, Larks, Enterprises, RS400s and the Ian Howlett-designed Topper Xenon. The Xenon, which offered an ideal all-up crew weight range of between 18-24 stone (114-152 kilos), is now replaced by the Topper Argo, a class which also offers a wide all-up crew weight range. Also, like the Xenon, the Argo has no class championship/class champion, which means all competitors are on an equal footing.

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