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Full house at 62nd Endeavour Trophy

by Sue Pelling 6 Oct 2023 21:02 BST 7-8 October 2023
An afternoon of training in fresh conditions on the River Crouch, in preparation for tomorrow's opening races © Roger Mant

Competitors arrive en masse for legendary dinghy champion of champions event

A quiet, sultry spell of warm, dry windless weather over the last week or so, gave way to promising racing conditions this morning with winds reaching 22kts in the gusts for the opening day of the 62nd Endeavour Trophy dinghy champion of champions invitational event writes Sue Pelling.

Over the next two days (Saturday and Sunday) a total of 30 national champions, representing a huge array of national and international classes, will battle it out on the tidal reaches of River Crouch/Roach in a series of eight back-to-back races in identical RS200 one designs to establish the 2023 best-of-the-best dinghy champion.

The calibre of the fleet is, as always at this event, exceptionally high which means racing will be immensely competitive for the one-discard series which starts at 1030 tomorrow. In the meantime, in preparation for the tough challenge ahead, competitors took part in today's opening 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 Hyde jibs and spinnakers supplied courtesy of RS Sailing).

As well as Irish's rigging/tuning in the morning, competitors - particularly Endeavour first-timers - embraced the on-the water session this afternoon in a good, lively breeze before heading back to shore for a video de-brief, and Barbuck-sponsored pasta meal in the evening.

Even for former Endeavour sailors/winners, including the likes of Nick Craig (six-times Endeavour winner), Toby Lewis (nine-time Endeavour winner), Steve Tylecote, and Christian Birrell, who know the event and vagaries of sailing on tidal River Crouch well, the training day is always useful.

As Craig pointed out this morning, however many times you've raced here, it's worthwhile exploiting the opportunity. His own piece of advice particularly aimed at first-timers to the event was crystal clear: "Tide, tide, tide. This event is not really a boatspeed test thankfully, it is about tide and tactics, so my advice is to get a handle on the tide, the time it changes, and get an idea of what the tide's doing on the startline and on the marks because it rips big time."

Chatting to some of the younger members of the fleet, including 13-year-old Fernhurst Books-sponsored Jessica Powell (Topper) it's a dream come true to be sailing against such a high calibre fleet. She won the Topper nationals from a fleet of just under 100 boats, finished fourth at the world championship this year, and won the Feva nationals in 2021, so she is no stranger to stiff competition, but she is looking forward to lining up against world class and Olympic sailors: "I am just really excited to have such a great opportunity to be able learn from different people who have a lot more experience than myself."

Commenting on her Fernhurst sponsorship, Powells added: "I'm very fortunate because I have a constant supply of top dinghy racing books to learn from. I am also involved with the photography for Fernhurst's forthcoming Topper sailing book, so that's exciting too."

Fellow female competitor Tatiana Hazlewood (16), who is crewing for Leo Yates (ILCA4) but who came second at the ILCA4 national championship in her own right said she is so pleased to have made it to the Endeavour Trophy: "I am very excited to be here and to have the opportunity to race against the best. I have sailed in Burnham before so I know a little of what to expect regarding tides but it will be a fantastic experience."

Edwin Buckley, event director and race officer said the stage is set for yet more top-class racing: "The fact we were oversubscribed this year with over 40 applicants for the 30 places available reflects just how important the event is for racing classes. Although it's an invitation event it works on a first-come-first-served basis so, it pays to be smart 'off the start line' in terms of entering. Regarding startlines, tomorrow's racing commences at 1030 sharp and we're hoping to complete as many of the eight races as possible. The wind looks good tomorrow but looks to be dropping off on Sunday, which is a perfect scenario because the mixed conditions gives everyone a chance to shine."

Endeavour Entrants 2023

  • 505 - Sam Pascoe and Pascoe
  • WASZP5 - Sam Whaley and Larissa Connabeer
  • RS Vareo - Michelle Collier-Brooks and James Bennett
  • D One - Nick Craig and Toby Lewis
  • 29er - Charlie Gran and Sam Webb
  • Lark - Ed Bradburn and Holly Evans
  • RS Aero 6 - Ben Whaley and Lorna Glen
  • Topper - Jessica Powell and Sam Grayton
  • RS400 - Edd Whitehead and Karen Oldale
  • Byte - Duncan and Kirsten Glen
  • GP14 - Matt Mee and Chris Martin
  • 2000 - Simon and Katie Horsfield
  • RS Aero 5 Tom and Tristan Ahlheid
  • National 12 - Tom and Isobel Stewart
  • Firefly - William Pank and Steve Carver
  • Cadet - Samantha and Bridgitte Nee
  • OK - Andy Davis and Alex Warren
  • ILCA 4 - Leo Yates and Tatiana Hazelwood
  • RS200 - Arran Holman and James Crossley
  • Optimist - Dylan Creighton and Joe Jones
  • RS Aero 7 - Tim Hire and Alice Lucy
  • Scorpion - Alan Krayling and Simon Forbes
  • RS Feva - Ben Greenhaigh and Tom Sinfield
  • ILCA 7 - James Foster and Jowe Walters
  • RS800 - Luke and Emma McEwen
  • Blaze - Ben Harden and Lucy Ellery
  • Merlin Rocket - Christian Birrell and Luke Patience
  • 4000 - Steve and Ben Tylecote
  • National 18 - Robert Gullan and Libby Watkins
  • Solo - Ben Flower and Thomas Semmens

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, the late Robin Judah - respected member of the RCYC - established a series of races for dinghy sailors 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.

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 Old Salt Loft

    The Old Salt Loft is a producer of recycled sail bags, t-shirt, printing, merchandise and embroidery spec.

  • 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.

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