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Saxton and Lewis reign supreme at the 2018 Endeavour Trophy

by Sue Pelling 14 Oct 2018 21:35 PDT 12-14 October 2018
Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis, overall winners of the 2018 Endeavour Trophy © Roger Mant

Four Endeavour Trophy wins in a row for super-fast duo

Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis have won the 2018 Endeavour Trophy for the fourth time in succession with an impressive scoreline of six wins writes Sue Pelling.

Although Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey representing the Merlin Rocket class were the ones who managed to break Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis' complete domination of the event, they could do nothing to affect the overall standings of the super-fast serial Endeavour champions, and had to settle for second place overall, while Maria Stanley and Alan Roberts (RS200) took third.

After leading at the first windward mark, and winning every race yesterday, on the opening day of the 2018 Endeavour Trophy championship series, Saxton and Lewis were forced to take a third place in the second race of the day (race 6) after a startline error, and consequential penalty turns.

Although it didn't take long for them to work their way up the fleet into third place in today's lighter airs, they were unable to catch, Birrell and Brearey who finished nearly a minute ahead of Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore (RS800) in second. Saxton and Lewis also nearly missed the first race of the day while carrying out running repairs to their gooseneck but again, it didn't seem to affect their speed and they went on to win that one too.

A happy, smiley Saxton talking about his win, said: "I am really happy. It is great to have competed here once again in what was another seamless event. Good racing and good shout out to Christian and Sam, and Maria and Alan who pushed us and kept us on our toes all the time.

"The key to success at the Endeavour is to work hard but keep the tactics simple. We don't do anything special but we just try to keep the right side of the tide and wind and pick a few boats off here and there."

Chatting about his startline incident, Saxton explained: "Doing a 720 on the line is not fast! I tried to double tack and as I went round at about 20 seconds to go my transom swung out and hit the boat to leeward of us, which happened to be Birrell and Bearey."

Christian Birrell who has competed at the event nine times now said the best bit of the weekend was breaking the Saxton/Lewis domination and winning the battle of the rest of the fleet: "Him [Saxton] hitting us on the startline, gave us a bit of luck and we are absolutely chuffed to have been the ones to beat him this weekend, and win the battle of everyone else"

Talking about what it takes to succeed at this east coast venue, Birrell added: "Burnham is like no other place. You have massive tide movement and different channels of tide, so getting you head around how the tide works and how you can use it to your advantage is probably the biggest gain anyone new to this event can make."

Third placed Stanley, the sole female helmsman, and former two-times Endeavour winning crew, Roberts, sailing a brand-new boat were delighted with their result. Stanley commented: "It is a very impressive fleet so we are really pleased with third. Having now completed my first Endeavour I am hungry for more, so the aim now is to try to get here again."

Roberts talking frankly about what to expect as a competitor at the Endeavour, said: "You soon learn the top sailors you are racing against don't give an inch and you learn how aggressive people can be on the water. They will luff, they will push for the overlap and, because they have a good knowledge of the rules, it is less verbal, which is a good thing."

Six-time former Endeavour champion, Nick Craig, sailing with Emma Clarke, who finished fourth overall said they were just a bit off the pace all weekend, even in the windy conditions yesterday. "It was tough because I just feel a bit big for the boat, so we couldn't really get going. In today's conditions I was never hiking but the crews in all the boats around us were. However, it is always great racing and it was good to be racing with Emma who certainly knows how to sail an RS200."

With considerably less wind today, it was ideal conditions for the lighter weight, young teams including William Pank and 14 year old Seb Getto (RS Feva) who scored an impressive fourth and an eighth, and the all-girl Optimist team of Emily Mueller (15) and Flo Brellisford (15). The girls, who sailed well and survived yesterday's big winds, went out today and scored their best result of the weekend – a seventh. Mueller said it was all about getting a good start: "Today we were able to sail a bit more tactically and we felt we had really started to gel with the boat."

Sunday's prizegiving at the Royal Corinthian YC attended by competitors and guests, including Keith Musto – the winning crew of the first ever Endeavour Trophy in 1961 – marked the end of another highly successful champion of champions series. In his summing up of the event, Musto commented: "It is great to come back to the event to meet all the enthusiasts. To see that 30 boats are competing, shows just how strong the event is, and how much it is respected."

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
12017 ChampionBen SaxtonToby Lewis11111316
2Merlin RocketChristian BirrellSam Brearey4223211514
3RS200Maria StanleyAlan Roberts2535310220
4D‑ONENick CraigEmma Clarke334499629
5RS800Tom MorrisGuy Fillmore66721523138
6470Jonny McGovernSarah McGovern54176315340
72000Simon HorsfieldKatie Burridge129571924456
8D‑ZEROSteve BollandAlistair Norris731981242060
9ScorpionAlan KrailingSimon Forbes1488102514761
10FireballMatt BurgeTom Pygall161769871863
11BlazeCharlie ChandlerOwain Hughes1010111111122565
12RS Aero 5Ben Hutton‑PenmanJames Hutton‑Penman91413141413871
13RS FevaWilliam PankSeb Getto22202015481077
14National 12Graham CammZoe Ballantyne1911313156577
1529erEwan WilsonFin Armstrong1112101626181178
16K1Paul SmalleyMari Shepherd1313121710221378
17RS400Stewart RobertsonSarah Robertson21731222311993
18420Rhys LewisDrew Wright2319141913191296
19LarkChris WhiteNicola White15161618222019104
20BYTETom LonsdaleEmma Peason31211921171616110
21RS600Richard SmithLynne Ratcliffe17153112182722111
22Thames A RaterSimon BlakeJames Warren20221513212326114
23SupernovaSam KnightSteve Hawley24181820241717114
24Laser 4.7Lorcan KnowlesAnnabel Page3131312661514123
25OptimistEmily MuellerFlorence Brellisford3131222472523132
26CadetAngus CollingridgeHattie Collingridge31312125202121139
27CometChris HattonCharlie Sansom31313123162624151
28RS Aero 9Steve CockerillSarah Cockerill8313131313131163
29MothJim McMillanPaul Gliddon18313131313131173
30National 18Oliver HousemanDoug Nestor31313131313131186

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.

  • Calltracks - 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.

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

Live streams of the event will be available from

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.

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