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Merlin Rocket sailors dominate opening day of Endeavour Championship

Published on October 10th, 2015

Burnham-on-Crouch, England (October 10, 2015) – Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis representing the Merlin Rocket class are the overnight leaders of Endeavour Championship following a clean sweep of wins in today’s first four races.

Ben Saxton, racing with 2014 Endeavour Championship crew Toby Lewis, revelled in the fresh easterly breeze and, after recovering from three poor starts, they sailed their borrowed RS200 to victory by extremely impressive margins in all four races. They now lead the championship by 14 points from Ben Saxton’s twin brother – Tim Saxton crewed by Fiona Hampshire (RS800).

Commenting as he sailed in this afternoon, Ben Saxton, who last won the Endeavour Championship in 2012 said: “We had some really great racing today, despite out less than impressive starts. Thankfully we are really fast downwind so we were able to make up a lot of ground there. Also, Toby my crew is like a machine, and never stops hiking, which is key to doing well at this event.

“We may have won four races but it is not over yet by any means. It is awesome that my brother and crew is snapping at our heels but I must say they are like a bullet upwind, so we’ll have to keep an eye on them, and Nick [Craig] of course.”

Tim Saxton, Ben’s brother added: “We’ve just been given a complete hammering by my twin brother; we just can’t keep up with him and his crew downwind. They have 16 kilos less weight in the boat so, when it is marginal planing conditions as it was today, they just disappear.

“We had a great, fun day though, although it was a bit frustrating in the third race when we should have led to the first mark but dropped back to eighth. I pushed it really tight on a port/starboard cross, which Fiona told me not too and it didn’t work out and we had to do some turns. Looking ahead to tomorrow, if we can stay second and get a Saxton 1,2 that would be amazing.”

The conditions for this annual champion of champions’ event ran fairly true to form with a pleasant, autumnal light to moderate east-north-easterly that increased steadily throughout the day and reached a good 15kts at times in the gusts. Once the tide turned and began to ebb, the conditions became even more exciting and led to more than few thrills and spills particularly for some of the ultra light teams.

Six-time Endeavour champion Nick Craig crewed by Tom Pygall, who finished the day in third place overall, began to improve as the wind built and scored two seconds in the last two races of the day. With four races to go, and a forecast of more wind tomorrow, there is still plenty of opportunity for the former champ to put up a good fight.

One the most impressive performances today came from the young RS Aero 5 team, Will Taylor and Fiona Mulcahy. They led race two from Saxton and Lewis for the first half of the race and put up an extremely good fight. Although they lost the lead on the third downwind leg they continued to sail well and maintain superb speed to the finish.

Fiona Mulcahy commented: “Once we were in the groove after our good start we just pulled ahead. I think it was generally down to good teamwork because we are used to sailing together. It was really hard work but a lot of fun and we are now looking forward to some more good racing tomorrow.”

Racing continues tomorrow morning with the first warning signal at 10:25. This evening competitors and guests are at the annual, grand Endeavour dinner at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club where the solid silver Endeavour Trophy will be on display.


Overnight leaders Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis – photo Julio Graham.

Day One Results (Top 6 of 23; 4 races)
1st Merlin Rocket – Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (4pts)
2nd RS800 – Tim Saxton and Fiona Hampshire (18pts)
3rd B14 – Nick Craig and Tom Pygall (19pts)
4th Firefly – Stuart Hudson and Hamish Walker (27pts)
5th RS400 – Michael Sims and Richard Brown (34pts)
6th RS Aero 5 – Will Taylor and Fiona Mulcahy (36pts)

Event websiteResults

Report written by Sue Pelling.

Confirmed entries
B14 – Nick Craig and Tom Pygall
Cadet – Jamie and Bettine Harris
Devon Yawl – Dan and James Ellis
Firefly – Stuart Hudson and Hamish Walker
Graduate – John and Jamie Clementson
Hornet – Rob Larke and Sally Wakefield
K1 – Matthew French and Charles Chandler
Lark – Alan Kraling and Joe Hunt
Merlin Rocket – Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis
Miracle – Hannah and Nick Smith
National 12 – Tom Stewart and Andrea Ralph
RS Aero 5 – Will Taylor and Fiona Mulcahy
RS Feva – Fin and Dan Armstrong
RS300 – Dave Acres and Hugh Watson
RS400 – Michael Sims and Richard Brown
RS800 – Tim Saxton and Fiona Hampshire
Scorpion – Andy McKee and Chris Massey
Supernova – Cliff Milliner and Gavin Young
Topper – Eleanor Pole and Scarlett Anderson
Topper 4.2 – Lorcan Knowles and Harry Pulford
Wayfarer – Guy and Tom Marks
2000 – Fergus Barnham and Serena De Nahlik
29er – James Grummett and Daniel Budden

Report written 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 achievements 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 one-design classes have been used for the event including the GP14, Laser 2, Lark, Enterprise, RS400, Topper Xenon, and last year the Topper Argo. The 13ft (4m) Phil Morrison-designed RS200 is a smaller version of the RS400. It weighs in at 78kg and is an ideal choice to suit a wide crew-weight range.

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