Sue Pelling writes…
Nick Craig and Toby Lewis representing the OK class have won the Endeavour Trophy after an extremely close fought, two-day championship on the River Crouch.
Craig, who has now won the event a total of five times, and Lewis who's won it three times, didn't have it all their own way however, and racing went down to the wire in the last of the eight-race series. Their biggest threat in today's final three races was the young, talented RS200 national champions – James Peters and Alan Roberts – who were leading the championship at the start of play today.
With two impressive race wins for Craig, two second places for Peters in today's first two races, and just two points between them, the scene was set for a spectacular showdown, and what a showdown it was.
Craig and Lewis did what came naturally in their vulnerable position by switching into match racing mode to ensure they were in control of Peters and Roberts' destiny. They did a particularly good job initially, which put them both at the tail end of the fleet but the canny youngsters were fully focussed which meant they were ready to pounce when Team Craig slipped up during a tack during the closing stages of the second beat. A coming together resulted in Craig and Lewis having to carry out penalty turns, which meant Peters and Roberts were able to slip ahead and maintain their controlling position to the finish. Unfortunately for them, however, it was too late to make any effect on the results, which meant Craig and Lewis had done enough to secure the championship.
An elated Craig talked impressively about his young opponents, and explained why they decided to use match racing tactics in the last race: “James is a great lad, great sailor, and I am sure he’ll be back for more in the future. Today the two of them were extremely impressive. To be honest we were torn as to know what to do. We’d like to have just sailed the race but we decided that it was a bit risky not to match race because anything could have happened out there. It was shifty, and tidal, and if we mucked up and got behind, it would have been very difficult to get back in contention again.”
Twenty-year-old Peters, who is in the RYA Olympic Development Squad and campaigning a 49er for a possible place at the 2016 Olympic Games, is one of the most impressive rookie Endeavour sailors the event has seen for many years. As well as a natural sailing talent, he demonstrated a professional side to his character which will undoubtedly see him progress well along his sailing career route. Chatting after the racing this afternoon, Peters commented: “We really enjoyed the event and it was a fantastic learning experience for us. Obviously Nick [Craig] won in the end but we felt we had to take all we could learn from the experience. Craig is a fantastic sailor. Although it is always tough to be match raced, it is important to understand that match racing in the situation we found ourselves in today is part of the sport of sailing. It is well within the rules and to execute it as Craig did, is a skill in itself, and he did a really good job making sure we weren’t able to win. I have to say though, beating him across the line did make it a bit better for us, and finishing second at the Endeavour Championship is amazing.”
Racing once again took place at the mouth of the River Roach, and Race Officer Kim Allen and team did a first class job in setting some good, square, windward/leeward courses in the shifty, 10-14kts gusty, tidal conditions.
The competition on the racecourse was exceptionally high this weekend and it was noticeable how many young, new generation sailors are making their mark. In third place overall, after a tough battle was Scorpion representatives Tom Jeffcoate and Mark Hogan who finished second in the final race, lifting them to 3rd.
Mention must also be made of the youth fleets including RS Feva representatives Owen Bowerman and Charlie Darling who, despite their extremely light, all-up weight, sailed impressively in every race and finished the event in a creditable 22nd.
Special thanks to the Endeavour Championship sponsors which include the following: Topper, Allen Brothers, Calltracks, Hyde Sails, Selden, English Braids, Petticrows, Musto & Noble Marine.
1st OK – Nick Craig and Toby Lewis 15pts
2nd RS200 – James Peters and Alan Roberts 18pts
3rd Scorpion – Tom Jeffcoate and Mark Hogan 31pts
4th Osprey – Matt Burge and Richard Wagstaff 35pts
5th GP14 Stuart Bithell and Matt Johnson 40pts
6th Enterprise – Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey 40pts