Matt Burge and Toby Lewis representing the Osprey class are the overnight leaders of the Topper Sailboats-supported Endeavour Championship after six races.
Sailing the new Rob White-designed Topper Argo, the 20-strong fleet was treated to superb conditions in a generally steady Force 2-3, which meant the race team was able to complete six of the eight race series.
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.”
The plan is to run the final two of the eight-race series tomorrow (Sunday, 2 November) starting at 1030. This is however, subject to change depending on the weather situation. The current forecast is for strong winds with gusts up to 28kts, which could potentially disrupt the final day’s racing.
In the meantime, crews are taking time to relax and recuperate before tonight’s grand Endeavour dinner in the main dinning room at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.