The Topper Endeavour Trophy 2014

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Hyde Sails are proud to continue their support for the Topper Endeavour Trophy held at Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex 2014. Racing took place last weekend 1st and 2nd November with a day on the water on Friday 31st to test the new Rob White designed Topper Argo, replacing the Topper Xenon used for the last nine years.

The Topper Endeavour Trophy is a unique event in the UK dinghy sailing world, it’s an invitation only three day event, with sailors from National Champions of selected recognised fleets. The RYA recognises The Endeavour as the pinnacle of that year’s dinghy sailing achievements which will hail a ‘champion of champions’


Matt Burge and Toby Lewis representing the Osprey class are the 2014 Endeavour Champions!

Overall Results: (top six, 8 races, 1 discard)
1st Osprey, Matt Burge and Toby Lewis, 21pts
2nd Merlin Rocket, Matt Mee and Tom Pygall, 22pts
3rd GP14, Ian Dobson and Holly Scott, 23pts
4th Lark, Charlie Roome and Jeremy Stephens, 33pts
5th Streaker, Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey, 33pts
6th Mirror, Rachel Grayson and Nigel Wakefield, 37pts
For full results go to

Read below for reports on the action.

Friday 31st October – A total of 20 dinghy champion teams arrived at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, with sunshine, temperatures of 20 degrees and a pleasant warm breeze it was champagne conditions for pre event training. Run be ABC for Winning coach Adam Bowers competitors were able to familiarise themselves with the new Topper Argo. Similar to the previously used Topper Xenon the Argo is 40kg lighter with a smaller sail area to ensure the overall crew-weight range is lower for lighter teams who struggle in windy conditions. Given the diversity of this competition, finding a suitable one design class to ensure the racing is as fair as possible has always been challenge. Plenty of positive dinghy park chatter feedback after day one

Saturday 1st November – With a steady Force 2-3 conditions the race team were able to complete six of the eight races. Racing throughout the day was exceptionally close with a different class winner in all but one race. Burge, sailing with Toby Lewis – three times Endeavour Champion crew – led the first race but were overhauled by the equally consistent Merlin Rocket sailors – Matt Mee and Tom Pygall and had to settle for second. However, as the day wore on Team Osprey got to grips with the new Endeavour boat and added another second and two firsts to their scoreline, leaving them two points clear of Mee and Pygall.

Commenting on their performance, Matt Burge, from Dorset, said: “Toby is an unbelievable crew which is key. Although we are great friends this is the first time we’ve sailed together and we just seemed to get better and better as the day went on. Also the Argo has proved to be a really great choice of boat for this event. It is a delight to sail compared with the Xenon, which I have to say, was always a battle. We feel like we are sailing this boat rather than having a constant struggle. Our overall crew weight is 130kg, so we would never have been in this position in the Xenon.”

Mee and Pygall, in second place overall going into tomorrow’s final two races, also sailed consistently well and finished the day with a string of top five results. They are now four points clear of GP14 national champion Ian Dobson, with crew Holly Scott, who are in third place overall. Mee, who’s sailed the Endeavour six times before said he was impressed with today’s performance: “We had a cracking day. It was our first time in a boat together. This boat [the Argo] is miles better than the Xenon. It is an even playing field, and generally a nicer boat to sail. Overall we’ve had a lovely day. The race management is excellent; the best and we love taking part in this prestigious event.”

One of the most impressive performances on the water today came from Mirror class national champion – 16-year-old Rachel Grayson – sailing with former Endeavour crew Nigel Wakefield. Grayson and Wakefield, who’d also never sailed together before today, were consistently in contention at the front of the fleet. They finished the day with three fourth, a third and seventh place to count, which leaves them in fourth place overall. A modest and weary Grayson commenting as she sailed in said: “It was down to good crew work too. We really enjoyed the day and it was great to sail against so many top sailors. Apparently there is a lot more wind tomorrow so not really looking forward to that. It will be interesting to see how well we do in the breeze.”

Sunday 2nd November - With just two point separating the leading two boats (Osprey), and Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) going into today’s final two races, the situations was always going to be close, and indeed, it went right down to the wire.

The penultimate race was sailed in lively conditions that reached 20kts in the gusts. Charlie Roome and Jeremy Stephens (Lark) sailed well and managed win from Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (Streaker) by just one second on the finish line. A sixth place however, for the Osprey team and a third for the Merlin Rocket boys, meant there was just one place between the leading contenders going into the final race. For the Osprey team to win, they had to finish ahead of the Merlin Rocket team.

The final race showdown was exciting with Ian Dobson and Holly Scott (GP14) establishing an impressive one-minute lead over Mee and Pygall (Merlin Rocket). Dobson and Scott maintained their position to the finish but in the closing stages of the race, Burge and Lewis (Osprey) were back in contention after being buried at the start and were able to take advantage of a favourable shift at the final leeward mark and just managed to beat Mee and Pygall across the line. Matt Burge chatting about the gripping, final race finish, said: “The Merlin boys were beating us all the way round the race course, but we had a phenomenal last run. We then opted for the opposite leeward gate mark to them, found a nice bit of breeze, tacked on a shift, then slogged our guts out to the finish line. I’ve never hiked so hard and my legs were trembling. We beat them across the line by half a boat length.” Commenting on his win, Burge added: “Winning the Endeavour Trophy is quite emotional. It has always been the event of all events I’ve wanted to win, so now I feel I can die happy having won it. “Toby Lewis – four times Endeavour Champion crew – added. “It is great to win it with Matt. We had a tough day today, and a real fight on our hands. It was just an excellent last race. Today was a real case of not giving up. In both races we were buried at times but through sheer determination we pulled through.”

Second placed Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) certainly didn’t make it easy for the eventual winners. Pygall commented: “Yes it was disappointing not to have won but we had a fantastic event. It was the first time I’ve sailed with Matt, and what a great guy he is to sail with. He is a legend really. We worked well together and I think the Argo is the type of boat that rewards teamwork, so yes, we really enjoyed it.”

At 16 years old, Rachel Grayson (Mirror class national champion) is not only one of the youngest helmsmen at this year’s event but according available records, she is also the highest placed female helmsman ever at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club-hosted Endeavour Championship. She is one to watch for the future! Grayson sailing with Nigel Wakefield, who finished the event in sixth place overall, was noted for her extreme skill, professional composure and her consistent performance throughout the weekend. Commenting on her impressive result, ever a modest Grayson concluded: “It was really fun and I cannot believe where we finished. My biggest fear was potentially finishing last in every race, and I really didn’t expect to be any good, particularly as it was also my first time sailing with an asymmetric spinnaker. I did have an amazing crew, so that helped and I probably owe our success to him.”






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 achievement 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 classes have been used for the event including GP14s, Laser 2s, Larks, Enterprises, RS400s and the Ian Howlett-designed Topper Xenon. The Xenon, which offered an ideal all-up crew weight range of between 18-24 stone (114-152 kilos), is now replaced by the Topper Argo, a class which also offers a wide all-up crew weight range. Also, like the Xenon, the Argo has no class championship/class champion, which means all competitors are on an equal footing.

Hyde Sails Ltd, Harbour Building Office A, Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton SO31 4NB

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