Ronstan

Saxton and Lewis Repeat at Endeavour Championship

Published on October 9th, 2016

Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (October 9, 2016) – Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (Nacra 17) once again won the Endeavour Championship after some epic sailing hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, thus successfully defending the title they lifted in 2015. This win means Toby has been the winning crew a record six times now, which equals Nick Craig’s helming record.

Saxton was pleased with the racing and commented after the final race: “It was tricky again today, trying to figure out the tides and the wind. I think we did a good job in the first two races and could afford to try some different, safer options in the last two races. It wasn’t any easier though because everyone sailed really hard. Absolutely fantastic racing by everyone.”

Lewis added: “The conditions were tough and we had some serious races with competitors like Edd [Whitehead] and Karen [Oldale] representing the RS500s. The course was unpredictable and ever changing wind conditions requiring some serious concentration.”

The day started with a fresh northerly breeze of about 14 knots with some menacing clouds on the horizon. Fortunately no major rain fell and the experienced competitors were taking advantage of every gust that came their way, especially on the downwind legs where most of the boats were on the plane.

As the day wore on the winds lightened up slightly but remained northerly at about 10 knots, with the occasional big gust, making it more difficult for the heavier crews to maintain optimum speed. The race for second place quickly became a hot contest between four different teams. The RS200s team, Matt Mee and Joanna Wright, managed to sail a consistent four races to secure second place overall, seven points ahead of Nick Craig and Holly Scott (D One).

RS200 national champion Joanna Wright was happy: “Matt and I have only ever sailed together in this event so today we were getting use to each other and had a solid day’s sailing and working together as a team.”

“There are many ex-RS200 champions and RS200 sailors in this fleet and we were determined to beat them,” added Mee.

Nick Craig came third and was enthusiastic about the racing: “Today was very similar to yesterday for us. The racing was tight but we felt a little sticky, almost not as quick as we could have been. It would have been so much better if we had that 30 knots of wind but it was not to be. Hats off to the other competitors, we really had a great time and some great racing this weekend.”

The Merlin Rocket team – Roger Gilbert and James Stewart – who managed to come fourth overall, are not newcomers to this championship as they have, as a team, won the event in 2003 when they represented the RS400 class at the championship. Gilbert was quite frank and jolly about the racing: “It’s been a long time since we won, we use to be the fittest and the youngest but that appears to have changed. The conditions were very testing and possibly the wind was a bit too light for us. We are still very pleased with the results.”

Christian Birrell and Emma Norris (Fireball) came fifth overall. Birrell was excited about the conditions and the outcome: “We read the tide much better today, we were not all over the place like yesterday. Today we just stuck to what we know and sailed hard to make up places. Two firsts, a second and a third was great sailing for us today.”

Niki Birrell, Christian’s brother and bronze medal-winning Olympian at the Rio Paralympic Games, was invited to sail in the Endeavour Championship and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. When asked about sailing against his brother he replied: “Yesterday I beat him in three races, somehow today he found his mojo and just took off and left me behind. It has been absolutely fantastic and such an honour to be entered. We found the racing to be tight, hard and very competitive and we are very pleased to have come 11th overall. This event has given me much inspiration to pursue my dream of winning a national championship and I know I will need to learn to sail quicker to achieve this dream.”

The weekend was concluded with a prize giving ceremony held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club before the competitors packed up and went their separate ways. Edwin Buckley – event director and race officer commented during the prize giving: “It is always a pleasure to have such champions on the water competing, they give it all that they have and make this event a true test of skill, endurance and tenacity for each other. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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Overall winners Ben Saxton (left) and Toby Lewis with the solid silver Endeavour Trophy. © Roger Mant

Overall Results (Top 6 of 26; 8 races, 1 discard)
1st NACRA 17 – Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (13pts)
2nd RS200 – Matt Mee and Joanna Wright (31pts)
3rd D ONE – Nick Craig and Holly Scott (38pts)
4th Merlin Rocket – Roger Gilbert and James Stewart (38pts)
5th Fireball – Christian Birrell and Emma Norris (38pts)
6th RS AERO 7 – David Ellis and Chloe Martin (55pts)

Event detailsScoreboardFacebookPast winners

Competing in equally matched RS200s, the record number of 26 entries this year has competitors aged between 13 and 59 years old and subsequently their varying skills and approaches will ensure some interesting results. Confirmed Entries:

2000 Class – Fergus Barnham and Serena De Nahlik
29er – Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling
420 – Robbie King and Marcus Tressler
505 – Andy Smith and Alex Barry
Cadet – Jamie Harris and Bettine Harris
D One – Nick Craig and Holly Scott
Enterprise – Tim Sadler and Jeremy Stevens
Fireball – Christian Birrell and Emma Norris
Graduate – John Clementson and Jamie Clementson
Lark – Stuart Hydon and Rachel Rhodes
Merlin Rocket – Roger Gilbert and James Stewart
Miracle – Hannah Smith and Nick Smith
Musto Skiff – Alex Knight and Megan Pascoe
Nacra 17 – Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis
RS 200 – Mat Mee and Joanna Wright
RS 400 – Paul Oakey and Mark Oakey
RS 500 – Edd Whitehead and Karen Oldale
RS 800 – Luke McEwen and Emma McEwen
RS Aero 5 – Archie Hainsworth and Freddie Wootton
RS Aero 7 – David Ellis and Chloe Martin
RS Feva – William Pank and Finley Dickinson
RS Vareo – David Jarrett and Emma Hivey
Scorpion – Chris Turner and Alex Hayman
Skud 18 – Niki Birrell and Jonny McGovern
Supernova – Iain Horlock and Victoria Upton
Topper 5.3 – Samuel Cooper and Alistair Rimmer

Source: Sue Pelling

Background:
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 the Topper Argo. The 13ft (4m) Phil Morrison-designed RS200 – a smaller version of the RS400 – was used for the first time in 2015 and will be used once again this year. It weighs in at 78kg and is an ideal choice to suit a wide crew-weight range.

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