A total of 20 dinghy champion teams arrived at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club this morning for the opening of the 2014 three-day Topper Sailboats-supported Endeavour Championship (31 October – 2 November).
Sparkling sunshine with temperatures up to 20 degrees, and a pleasant warm breeze couldn’t have been more ideal for the Calltracks-sponsored pre-event training, run by ABC for Winning coach Adam Bowers.
Competitors, eager to familiarise themselves with the new ‘Endeavour’ dinghy – the Rob White-designed Topper Argo, which replaces the Topper Xenon used for the last nine years, had an enjoyable and useful day on the water.
Although similar in looks to the Xenon with its high freeboard and racy asymmetric spinnaker, the Argo is 40kg lighter and carries less sail area, which means this new ‘Endeavour design’ should lower the overall crew-weight range and provide more appeal to lighter teams who struggle in windy conditions.
Given the diverse entry of the Topper Endeavour Championship, which includes singlehanded, doublehanded, heavy and lightweight crews from a range of different dinghy classes, finding a suitable strict one-design to ensure the racing is as fair as possible is always a challenge. Thankfully, as the teams arrived back on shore at sunset this afternoon, the vibe around the dinghy park about the new ‘Endeavour design’ was a positive one.
Commenting on the Argo after today’s training session, Toby Lewis (33) from Dorset – former three times Endeavour Champion crew – this year representing the Osprey class, said: “Like the Xenon, the Argo provides a great level playing field, but because it is a new boat, no one is quite sure what the correct settings are, so it is interesting. It is fairly similar in layout, however. It is generally a smaller boat so lighter weight crews won’t be so penalized in a breeze, plus the kite is more manageable because it is smaller. Thumbs up all round.”
Simon Hiscocks (41) double Olympic medalist (bronze and silver), representing the 18ft Skiff class, added: “Because they are new, these boats are a great leveller. No one has an advantage. They are actually nice boats to sail because they produced good, tight racing over short training courses. Really looking forward to tomorrow. The Endeavour is a great opportunity to race against so many different class sailors. It is unique and carries a lot of prestige. There is also a great atmosphere and, for me, it is good to see dinghy sailing in a slightly different light rather than what I am used to, living in a bubble around Portland in Weymouth with Olympic sailing. It is a refreshing change and I am really enjoying it.”
Adam Bowers ABC for Winning coach, concluded: “It seems like a great boat for the job and a real step forward from the Xenon. It’s a lot stiffer for a start. The Xenon was really more suited to larger crews, but the Argo is more of a lighter, subtle machine, so it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.”
The eight-race, seven to count Topper Endeavour Trophy series starts at 1030 tomorrow (Saturday, November 1) with the plan to run up to five, 45-minute races back-to-back on windward/leeward courses. The remaining races are scheduled to take place on Sunday morning (2 November). This is however, subject to change depending on the weather situation.
The current forecast for tomorrow indicates more breeze – 15kts from the south/south-west with gusts up to 19-20kts – which should make for classic, exciting, Endeavour racing.
The grand Endeavour dinner for competitors is taking place in the main dining room at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club tomorrow night. Tickets, although limited, are still available at £21 from Kate Boothy at the RCYC office. Telephone: +44 (0) 1621 782105, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.