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Endeavour Trophy 'Full House': 30 national champions ready for battle

by Sue Pelling 13 Oct 2017 21:19 BST 13-15 September 2017
Dinghy park champion chit-chat (l-r) Toby Lewis, Ben Saxton, Alan Roberts, Holly Scott and Nick Craig ahead of the 2017 Endeavour Trophy © Sue Pelling

A total of 30 entries have signed up for the dinghy champion of champions' event – the Endeavour Trophy – this weekend (13-15 October).

Not only is this one of the largest entries ever recorded, it is also one of the few events in the world where such a concentrated group of champions compete against each other in the same class of boat, writes Sue Pelling.

To ensure a relatively level 'playing field', this invitational championship, for national, European or world champions from the most popular dinghy racing classes, will be contested, for the third year in succession, in one-design RS200s.

At today's opening Calltracks-sponsored training session headed by Steve Irish – one of the UK's leading dinghy racing coaches – the fleet made the most of the fresh, yet mild conditions to familiarise themselves with their boats.

With new suits of sails courtesy of RS Sailing and Hyde Sails, Irish was kept busy throughout the day both on and off the water, offering tips and advice on fine-tuning the RS200. A mid morning briefing, and on-the-water session was followed by a video debrief back at the club this afternoon, and a summary of the day's training.

Irish, a former champion and Endeavour competitor said although the fleet clearly have transferable skills, a bit of extra help when it comes to boat setup is always useful: "The key thing today was to get the fleet on the water to give them a chance to set up their boats for the conditions.

"The format with a constant stream of short races running throughout the afternoon worked well with teams able to dip in and dip out of the races as much as they wanted. The idea of the video de-brief was to offer a bit of advice for those struggling with boat handling techniques, particularly those unfamiliar with the RS200.

"Even the guys who have sailed RS200s before will have to take into account that sailing here on the River Crouch at Burnham with its tidal complications and the fact it will be fairly breezy, means there is a lot to take in."

Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis – double Endeavour champions – who are back to defend their title, have a tough challenge ahead given the particularly strong level of talent at this year's event. With the likes of serial Endeavour champions Nick Craig and Holly Scott (D-One), Christian Birrell (470), and Matt Burge and Tom Pygall (Fireball), lining up on the start line tomorrow, racing is expected to be intense.

Competitors for this bumper event have travelled from far afield, including Federico and Filippo Maccari (RS 500) from Italy, and Stuart Urquhart and Brendan Lynch, who made the long road trip from Kinloss, Moray, Scotland earlier today.

There is also a good showing of young sailors to watch out for such as local champions Ben Hutton-Penman and Lucy Hewitson (RS Feva), Bettine and Jamie Harris (Cadets), and Jamie Cook and Finley Dickinson (Optimist) from Penarth, Wales. The youngest competitor is Imogen Wade (11) sailing with her father Dave (Mirror).

As they came off the water this afternoon, Ben Saxton offered a friendly bit of advice to fellow competitors as they prepare for 2017 Endeavour Trophy race opener tomorrow: "Have fun, and enjoy it for the spectacle that it is, as well as the racing because you'll never come up against a fleet of such good sailors. My top tip is not to underestimate the tide. If you are considering a manoeuvre don't think twice; do it."

Looking ahead at the conditions for the start of the eight-race Endeavour Championship series, which kicks off at 1030, Edwin Buckley, event director and race officer commented: "I am delighted we have a full house of 30 entries this year, and with some good winds expected, there is every indication that 2017 is going to produce some exceptionally competitive racing.

"The forecast is for a good south-south-westerly breeze of about 15kts and scorching sunshine, which couldn't be better. My intention, depending on the wind of course, is to run up five or six races on Saturday with the remaining races on Sunday."

Confirmed entries:

  • 2016 Champion, Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis
  • D-One, Nick Craig and Holly Scott
  • Scorpion, Andy Mckee and Steve Graham
  • Supernova, Alex Horlock and Arthur Henderson
  • RS Feva, Ben Hutton-Penman and Lucy Hewitson
  • National 12, Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantine
  • Enterprise, Jeremy and Becca Stephens
  • RS400, Jon Gorringe and Emma Clarke
  • Comet, Chris Hatton and David Harris
  • 470, Christian Birrell and Rob Henderson
  • Topper, Sam Cooper and Simon Hall
  • 420, Niamh Harper and Ross Thompson
  • RS200, Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright
  • Albacore, Tom Lonsdale and Oli Meadowcroft
  • Miracle, Dave Butler and Ross Fleming
  • National 18, Stuart Urquhart and Brendan Lynch
  • Optimist, Jamie Cook and Finley Dickinson
  • Fireball, Matt Burge and Tom Pygall
  • Firefly, Nigel Wakefield and Mary Henderson
  • 2000, Stephen and Sarah Cockerill
  • Cadet, Bettine and Jamie Harris
  • Mirror, Dave and Imogen Wade
  • International 14, Roger and Jane Gilbert
  • Merlin Rocket, Alan Roberts and Rosie Sibthorp
  • Women's 470, Anna Carpenter and Martin Wrigley
  • Laser Radial, Ben and Sam Whaley
  • 29er, Nick Robins and Billy Vennis-Ozanne
  • RS800, Chris Rashley and Hannah Bristow
  • K1, Simon Heusen and Allan Tyler
  • RS500, Federico and Filippo Maccari

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 the Topper Argo. The 13ft (4m) Phil Morrison-designed RS200 – a smaller version of the RS400 has been the chosen class for the Endeavour Championship since 2015. It weighs in at 78kg and is an ideal choice to suit a wide crew-weight range.

Current Endeavour Champions (2016 winners) –Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis representing the Nacra 17.

Supporting partners

RS Sailing
Produce a wide range of award winning sailboats including the RS200 used for the Endeavour Championship for the last two years. The company is based in Hampshire and is supported by a worldwide dealer network, and active class associations throughout the world.

Allen Brothers
Allen Sailboat Performance Hardware – designers, manufacturers and distributors of performance dinghy and keelboat fittings.

The Calltracks tracking solution is a comprehensive and easy-to-use web-based system, which enables businesses to take better control of their sales and marketing activities.

Hyde Sails
UK managed and owned company, producing performance sails worldwide for dinghies and yachts for over 40 years.

Magic Marine
Develop and produce technical dinghy and catamaran sailing gear worldwide.

Kingfisher DSM Group
Kingfisher yacht ropes is DSM group's own brand of high performance sailing ropes and equipment.

The Old Salt loft
Specialists in bespoke recycled sailcloth products including personalised canvas bags, home ware and accessories.

More information on the event website,