Battle of the One Design Champions

Published on October 2nd, 2013

When US Sailing hosts its annual Championship of Champions on October 24-27, it will bring together 19 one design national, continental or world champion skippers to compete in Lightnings at the Columbia Sailing Club in Columbia, SC.

Similarly, in Britain a fleet of 25 invited champions and their crews from all around the country will compete for the Endeavour Championship on October 11-13. They will be sailing a fleet of brand-new Ian Howlett-designed Topaz Xenons to establish the 2013 dinghy Champion of Champions.

Interestingly, the only one design class to be represented at both events is the Fireball, the 16-foot doublehanded, single trapeze high performance dinghy designed by Peter Milne in 1962.

Here is the list of classes and competitors to date that will compete for the Endeavour Championship…

29er – Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach
Albacore – Nev Herbert and Mark Fowler
D One – Charlie Chandler and crew tba
Fireball – Christian Birrell and Richard Anderton
Firefly – Jono Pank and crew tba
GP14 – Andy Tunnicliffe and Chris Robinson
Laser 2000 – Jasper Barnham and Graham Sexton
Merlin Rocket – Nick Craig and Alan Roberts
Miracle – Sam Mettam and Martyn Lewis
Feva – Elliot Wells and Jake Todd
RS100 – Colin Smith and Graham Williamson
RS200 – Matt Mee and Emma Norris
RS400 – Stewart and Sarah Robinson
RS500 – Mike Saul and Meg Fletcher
RS700 – Robbie Bell and Stephen Powell
RS800 – James Date and Toby Wincer
Scorpion – Steve Hall and Oliver Wells
Solo – Charlie Cumbley and Pete Cumming
Topper – Ben Jennings and Giles Kuzyk
Topper 4.2 – Crispen Beaumont and Chris Bownes

The Endeavour Championship for the Topper Sailboats-supported-Endeavour Trophy will take place at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouch.

Although last year’s winners, Ben Saxton and Alan Roberts (RS200) won’t be at the event to defend their title this year, Nick Craig – five-times winner – and crewman Toby Lewis (Merlin Rocket) who finished second last year, plus Jasper Barnham and Graham Sexton (Laser 2000), who finished third are, once again, preparing for a an exciting battle.

Another key player is Christian Birrell (Fireball) who’ll be aiming to repeat his Endeavour winning performance of 2010 when he crewed for Stuart Bithell (2012 Olympic silver medallist in the 470). This time Birrell will be at the helm, crewed by Richard Anderton.

Birrell, who has competed at this event three times in the past, both as crew and helmsman says the Endeavour Trophy is the event he looks forward to most. “The event provides fantastic racing, in perfectly matched boats against the best national class sailors in the UK.

“I love the event because I get to go racing against all my mates from all the different classes, in a class of boat, which we are all equally unpractised in! At least half the fleet is very evenly matched, which makes the racing extremely close. Burnham is also an extremely difficult place to sail, and offers something very different to the venues we all typically race in.”

Jasper Barnham endorsing Birrell’s opinion, added: “For me it is the best event of the season – bar none.

“Being able to test ourselves against the best in the country is reason we come to the Endeavour. Sailing against Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience last year was a huge thrill… We came away having learnt a huge amount, if we can learn as much this year then it will be a success for us.”

Jono Pank (Firefly) who has raced the Endeavour twice before, says: The Endeavour has slightly untouchable aura because you can’t get in any other way than winning your own champs… I see it as an elite club, and your membership expires very quickly – getting in is the toughest bit, unless you’re Nick Craig, of course.”

In an effort to ensure racing is as fair as possible, the race committee set the windward/leeward courses downriver from the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, at the mouth of the River Roach, or in a similar suitable location depending on the state of the tide and wind direction. This also gives spectators and supporters a chance to view the racing from the sea wall.

The three-day event kicks off on Friday 11 October with the Calltracks-sponsored pre-event training session, run by ABC for Winning coach Adam Bowers. The eight-race, seven to count Endeavour Trophy series starts at 1030 on Saturday morning (12 October) with the plan to run five, 45-minute races back-to-back on windward/leeward courses. The remaining three races are scheduled to take place on Sunday morning (13 October). This is however, subject to change depending on the weather situation.

The grand Endeavour dinner is on Saturday night at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, and a limited number of tickets are still available at £21 from Kate Boothy at the RCYC office. Telephone: +44 (0) 1621 782105, or e-mail: kate.boothy@royalcorinthian.co.uk.

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 enlisted the help of ‘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.

Years later, Robin Judah – respected member of the RCYC – was anxious to establish 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, and RS400s. The current class is the Ian Howlett-designed Topper Xenon. Not only does this particular design offer an ideal all-up crew weight range of between 18-24 stone (114-152 kilos), but also because it has no class championship, there is no class champion to gain an unfair advantage.

For details visit: http://royalcorinthian.co.uk/endeavour

Craig Leweck and Sue Pelling reporting

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