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60th Endeavour Trophy - Olympians join 30 national champions in special anniversary event

by Sue Pelling 8 Oct 2021 20:07 BST 8-10 October 2021
60th Endeavour Trophy - Ultra light winds for today's training session © Roger Mant Photography

The countdown to the 60th anniversary Endeavour Trophy is under way with the first race kicking off at 10.00 tomorrow, writes Sue Pelling.

As this annual invitational eight-race series (8-10 October) reaches another significant milestone, the battle to become the dinghy champion of champions continues to intensify.

The entry at this unique, high profile event at the Royal Corinthian YC, Burnham-on-Crouch, has always been exceptionally strong and this year's Investec-sponsored series, in one-design RS200s, is no exception. A total of 31 champions from the most popular dinghy racing classes, including a host of previous Endeavour winners, will be joined for this special anniversary event by some highly decorated Olympians.

Although five-time Endeavour winning helmsman Ben Saxton is not competing this year, one team to watch out for this weekend is Aaron Holman (RS200 national champion) with Saxton's super-crew Toby Lewis at the front end. If anyone knows how to sail an RS200 fast at this event it is, without doubt, Lewis.

Up against them however, are a couple of Olympian team mates going head to head this time - Stuart Bithell fresh from a Gold medal win in Tokyo (49er crew), and Luke Patience Olympic silver medallist with Bithell as crew at Weymouth (470). Both teams also have plenty of Endeavour experience with Bithell an Endeavour Champion helmsman in 2010, and Patience who was 'pipped at the post' in the final race by Saxton at 2019 Endeavour Trophy. For Patience and Mary Henderson, this weekend's racing will be about settling some unfinished business.

Another serial Endeavour Trophy winner with five Endeavour wins to his name is Nick Craig (RS400). Craig hopes to put his former Endeavour winning-skills into practice once again, this time with Katie Burridge calling the shots at the front. Chatting about his prospects of making it his sixth Endeavour win, Craig said: "As much as I would like to think positively about another Endeavour win, I think that given the weather forecast, I'd be hard pushed. For a start I would need to lose 15kg by tomorrow. Whatever happens it will be good fun, it is always great sailing and a fantastic event, so I am really looking forward to getting out there tomorrow."

Matt Burge (Osprey) who won the Endeavour Trophy in 2014 with Toby Lewis, and was runner up twice, is another favourite with Tom Pygall crewing for him this year.

It is also good to see so many young sailors taking part including Isobel Stewart (16) crewing for her father Tom (N12), and Millie Irish (17) with Joe Warwicker (16) crewing (RS Feva).

Florence Brellisford (18) and Ben Hutton Penman (18) - home club representatives and former Corinthian Otters (RCYC's junior section) - are not only flying the flag for the 29er class, but also for the RCYC Otter fleet. In support the club's new incentive to inspire the next generation of sailors, members of the Otters will be out and about watching the masters at work on the racecourse throughout the weekend.

Meanwhile, in preparation for the tough challenge ahead - eight back-to-back races over two days on the tidal waters of the River Crouch - competitors took part in today's opening Investec-sponsored training session.

Headed by Steve Irish - one of the UK's leading dinghy racing coaches - teams had a chance to not only listen to some well-seasoned advice but also acquaint themselves with their boats, and fine tune their rigs (brand-new jibs and spinnakers supplied courtesy of RS Sailing and Hyde Sails).

It was also a delight that Keith Musto, Olympic silver medallist and winner of the first ever Endeavour Trophy crewing for Peter Bateman in 1961, was present at today's morning briefing. Musto is always so interested in the progress of sailing and will undoubtedly be out on the water, spectating aboard his own racing yacht, at some point over the weekend.

As well as Irish's rigging/tuning in the morning, competitors, particularly Endeavour first-timers, embraced the on-the water session and video de-brief back on shore. Although the wind failed to cooperate much today it was a chance to set up and put the boats through their paces ready for what looks to be a generally challenging light wind, strong Spring tide weekend.

Irish, a former champion and Endeavour competitor, commenting on the what he aims to achieve, said: "My job really is to help the newbies to the RS200 class set up their boats and offer advice on how to sail them. It is going to be light winds all weekend with big Spring tides so racing will be interesting. We might find some of the junior sailors are able to hold their own against some of the older 'boys'."

Chatting to Millie Irish (17) an Endeavour first timer who won the RS Feva nationals, and who happens to be Steve Irish's daughter, it appears that having a father as coach is no real advantage: "The coaching session today was great. A real treat in fact because as odd as it sounds, I never get any coaching from dad because he is always coaching others."

Commenting on her first time at the Endeavour, Irish added: "I am so excited to race against really, really great people. It is such a wonderful opportunity to be sailing at the top of the sport. There are certainly not many sports you can sail against Olympians. Can't wait. We weigh about 110kg so the light winds expected are definitely on our side."

Millie Irish's crew Joe Warwicker (16) is reveling in the fact that even though he finished second at the Feva nationals he still made it to the Endeavour. "We [Millie and Joe] were racing each other at the nationals and it was quite a tight finish. We, two helms, now find ourselves in the boat together. We are very aware it's a great opportunity to race against gold medallists and other very good sailors, so we hope to learn a lot this weekend."

Edwin Buckley, event director and race officer commented: "I am absolutely delighted that we have finally been able to host the 60th anniversary event. The restrictions imposed last year, to help manage the spread of the Covid-19 virus, brutally affected championships, which meant there were no champions.

Not surprisingly, this year we have been overwhelmed with entries and, the fact we have Olympians on the race course makes the event even more special."

Commenting on the conditions the competitors may face, Buckley concluded: "It is definitely going to be a tricky one this year particularly with the exceptionally high Spring tides and generally light winds. As it stands at the moment, tomorrow the tide is likely to be more powerful than wind so some will struggle. However, Sunday is looking more promising with 7-11kts of wind forecast, but given the strength of the tide, still very challenging."

Endeavour Entrants 2021:

  • Cherub - Andrew and Jill Peters
  • Tasar - Rick and Sarah Perkins
  • Graduate - Isaac Marsh and Fresh Abendstern
  • 2000 - Rob and Sarah Burridge
  • RS400 - Nick Craig and Katie Burridge
  • National 12 - Tom and Isobel Stewart
  • Olympian - Stuart Bithell and Jessica Hammett
  • Contender - Sam Barker and Samuel Mottershead
  • Thames A Rater - Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright
  • Olympian 470 - Luke Patience and Mary Henderson
  • Optimist - Patrick Bromilow and Tabitha Davies
  • RS Aero 9 - Ben Rolfe and Clara Jones
  • ILCA4 - Max Steele and Flynn Davies
  • Solo - Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby
  • Blaze - Ben Harden and Eden Hyland
  • Cadet - Hannah Carruthers and Alan Krailing
  • Europe - Steve and Sarah Cockerill
  • RS800 - Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore
  • GP14 - Mike and Liz Senior
  • 29er - Florence Brellisford and Ben Hutton Penman
  • Comet - Eddie Pope and Chris Hatton
  • RS Aero 5 - Andrew Frost and Hamish Walker
  • Musto Skiff - Sam and Megan Pascoe
  • RS200 - Arran Holman and Toby Lewis
  • Lark - Harry Pynn and Stephen Videlo
  • RS600 - George Smith and Elliot Marks
  • Osprey - Matthew Burge and Tom Pygall
  • Merlin Rocket - Christian Birrell and Matt Mee
  • 420 - Ella Lance and Will Martin
  • RS Feva - Millie Irish and Joe Warwicker
  • Supernova - Alistair Goodwin and Cliff Milliner

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 (2019 winners) - Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis

Supporting partners

  • Investec is a banking and wealth management business with a refreshingly human approach. We provide financial solutions and expert advice that aim to meet - and exceed - expectations. We are trusted with managing over £41 billion (as at March 2021) of our clients' money and we take great pride in our relationship based approach and our purpose to make a tangible and meaningful difference. Minimum eligibility criteria and terms and conditions apply. With investment your capital is at risk.

  • 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 Sailboat Performance Hardware - designers, manufacturers and distributors of performance dinghy and keelboat fittings.

  • Barbuck TalkingForms from Barbuck, converts your web forms to inbound sales calls in under 30 seconds, using text-to-voice technology. This allows you to talk to your potential client while they are still in the buying zone and focused on your company and products. Speed is critical, as 78 per cent of customers will give their business to the first company to respond. Make sure you speak to them first with TalkingForms, and never miss a lead again.

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

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