Monday, October 12, 2015
Merlin Rocket sailors make history at Endeavour Championship
Eight wins in a row for Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis
Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (11 October, 2015): Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis representing the Merlin Rocket class are the winners of the 2015 Endeavour Championship after winning all eight races.
This is the first time in the history of the 55-year event that anyone has managed to achieve such an outstanding result.
The super-fast duo annihilated the rest of the 23-boat Endeavour fleet in the fresh conditions today to add another four wins to their already impressive run of four wins on Saturday. The pair sailed faultlessly and managed to build up extraordinary speed both upwind and down on the windward/leeward courses and never once wobbled on the ‘corners’ in the testing conditions that reached 20 kts at times.
Even after mediocre starts on more than one occasion, Saxton and Lewis were always first round the top mark. Benefiting from clear air, exceptional teamwork, and supersonic boat speed, they consistently extended their lead often finishing well over a minute ahead of the next boat. Consequently they were never seriously challenged today, even by the likes of six-time Endeavour Trophy champion, Nick Craig and crewman Tom Pygall who had to settle for second overall, and Saxton’s twin brother – Tim Saxton and Fiona Hampshire – who finished third.
Ben Saxton (25), who is currently campaigning a Nacra 17 for the Rio Olympic Games, was naturally delighted with his win. Commenting as he stepped ashore this afternoon he said: “The event was awesome and we are delighted to have won. We sailed clever and fast which is a pretty good combination and we didn't really have a weakness. I think if I had a piece of advice for future Endeavour competitors it would be to get a good crew that hikes like a lunatic – like Toby, and make time for some really good practice beforehand.”
Five-time Endeavour winner Lewis (34) who also makes history by becoming the Champion of Champions’ crew for the most wins, added (in a typically modest fashion): “Ben was very good at spotting the breeze downwind plus he is quite gutsy and will hit a corner with confidence. Because my aim is to always win, I just focus on the job.”
Going into today’s racing Tim Saxton, and Fiona Hampshire representing the RS800 class, were in second overall to Tim’s brother Ben but just one point behind Craig. This meant the race for second place overall was always going to be exciting.
In the building breeze Craig was in his element and, although he and Pygall were unable to match the speed of the leaders, they did managed to snatch second place overall with an impressive three seconds and a third in today’s final four races.
Craig commented: “We just couldn't catch the boy. At least we managed to beat one Saxton in the end. There was no doubt about it; we were just a lot slower downwind. We were about 16 kilos heavier and even in the breeze we were still a bit marginal downwind so, for us it was game over really.”
Chatting about the event and why he is so passionate about taking part, Craig added: “Eight races in two days is more than you get in some championship weeks, plus the shore side is good, food is good, so the whole thing from start to finish is fantastic.”
Stuart Hudson and Hamish Walker representing the Firefly class also had some top results over the weekend including a third and fourth so were able to retain fourth place overall from Hornet national champion, Rob Larke crewed by Sally Wakefield who took fifth place.
With all races complete and some of the best conditions seen at an Endeavour Championship for many years, Edwin Buckley – event director and race officer commented: “Although the perfect conditions with winds that averaged between 15-18kts helped, it was, as always, the highly qualified group of professionals that I am privileged to work with, who help to make the event the success it is today.”
Results (after four of eight races)
1st Merlin Rocket – Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (7pts)
2nd B14 – Nick Craig and Tom Pygall (17pts)
3rd RS800 – Tim Saxton and Fiona Hampshire (27pts)
4th Firefly – Stuart Hudson and Hamish Walker (47pts)
5th Hornet – Rob Larke and Sally Wakefield (49pts)
6th Lark – Alan Krayling and Joe Hunt (50pts)
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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