Ben Saxton and crewman Alan Roberts are overnight leaders of the 2012 Endeavour. Saxton and Roberts, RS200 national champions, won the first race amidst an impressive field of competitors which included Christian Birrell, Stuart Bithell and Nick Craig who is a five time Endeavour trophy winner. Saxton and Roberts sailed consistently to win three of the four races today, only coming third in one race.
Racing started at the mouth of the River Roach a couple of miles down stream from the host club, Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, in 8-10 knots of breeze coming from the North West. With a very eager fleet of competitors the first race saw three boats jump the line resulting in individual recalls.
This is Saxton’s first time at the Endeavour Trophy, which shows how adaptable a sailor he must be to be able to come and compete with national and international champions after only one day of practice in the Topper Xenon dinghy. Chatting just after the final race of the day, Saxton commented: "I am just so happy to be on the water and sailing in this event. I’m particularly pleased that we are laying first but it would not have been possible without my crew Alan as he has sailed here before and knows all the local nuances."
As the day progressed the winds got lighter and by the time the last race was moved up the River Roach there was hardly six knots of wind. The competitors were not put off by the lack of wind but it did mean that going upwind against the tide was not the easiest of tasks. As the fourth race commenced, the wind died and then picked up again giving and taking positions from the competitors in an almost random fashion. Race Officer Kim Allen said: "The wind has been very varied in this race but there has been absolutely no significant shift in the wind direction for the duration of today’s sailing." The forecast for tomorrow is, unsurprisingly, light winds.
Although Saxton and Roberts are the overnight leaders, they will have to continue their performance to stay ahead of Enterprise national champion Nick Craig and Merlin Rocket champion Christian Birrell. The fight for first place is definitely on and, if the wind is as light as it was today, it will be a long hard fight to the very last race. With the very light and sometimes non-existent wind in Race 4, it is not a surprise that 17 of the fleet were timed out for finishing 15 minutes after the first competitor.
Nick Craig and Toby Lewis are lying second with Christian Birrell and Andrew Tunicliffe taking up the third position. Not to be left out of the running Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience (Olympic 470 Silver Medalists) are only one point behind Birrell and Tunicliffe in fourth position. When pushed for tactics for tomorrow all Saxton would say was: "I plan on getting to the front and staying in the front for all the races."
Racing starts again tomorrow morning with the first warning signal at 10:25. This evening, competitors and guests are attending the annual, grand Endeavour dinner at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.
Special thanks to the Endeavour sponsors which include the following: Topper, Allen Brothers, Calltracks, Hyde Sails, Selden, English Braids, Petticrows, Musto, Noble Marine, Sea-Sure and GJW Direct.
RESULTS AFTER FOUR RACES
- Ben Saxton and Alan Roberts (RS200 with 6 points)
- Nick Craig and Toby Lewis (Enterprise with 11 points)
- Christian Birrell and Andrew Tunicliffe (Merlin Rocket with 21 points)
- Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience (470 with 22 points)
- Stuart Hudson and Tom Foster (Firefly with 37 points)
- Jasper Barham and Graham Sexton (Laser 2000 with 40 points)