Piping their nearest rivals to the post in the final race of the series was just enough for Matt Burge and Toby Lewis representing the Osprey class to secure the 2014 Topper Sailboats-supported Endeavour Championship.
With just two points separating the leading two boats (Osprey), and Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) going into today’s final two races, the situation was always going to be close, and indeed, it went right down to the wire.
The penultimate race was sailed in lively conditions that reached 20kts in the gusts. Charlie Roome and Jeremy Stephens (Lark) sailed well and managed win from Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (Streaker) by just one second on the finish line.
A sixth place however, for the Osprey team and a third for the Merlin Rocket boys, meant there was just one place between the leading contenders going into the final race. For the Osprey team to win, they had to finish ahead of the Merlin Rocket team.
The final race showdown was exciting with Ian Dobson and Holly Scott (GP14) establishing an impressive one-minute lead over Mee and Pygall (Merlin Rocket). Dobson and Scott maintained their position to the finish but in the closing stages of the race, Burge and Lewis (Osprey) were back in contention after being buried at the start and were able to take advantage of a favourable shift at the final leeward mark and just managed to beat Mee and Pygall across the line.
Matt Burge chatting about the gripping, final race finish, said: “The Merlin boys were beating us all the way round the race course, but we had a phenomenal last run. We then opted for the opposite leeward gate mark to them, found a nice bit of breeze, tacked on a shift, then slogged our guts out to the finish line. I’ve never hiked so hard and my legs were trembling. We beat them across the line by half a boat length.”
Commenting on his win, Burge added: “Winning the Endeavour Trophy is quite emotional. It has always been the event of all events I’ve wanted to win, so now I feel I can die happy having won it.“
Toby Lewis – four times Endeavour Champion crew – added. “It is great to win it with Matt. We had a tough day today, and a real fight on our hands. It was just an excellent last race. Today was a real case of not giving up. In both races we were buried at times but through sheer determination we pulled through.”
Second placed Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) certainly didn’t make it easy for the eventual winners. Pygall commented: “Yes it was disappointing not to have won but we had a fantastic event. It was the first time I’ve sailed with Matt, and what a great guy he is to sail with. He is a legend really. We worked well together and I think the Argo is the type of boat that rewards teamwork, so yes, we really enjoyed it.”
At 16 years old, Rachel Grayson (Mirror class national champion) is not only one of the youngest helmsmen at this year’s event but according to available records, she is also the highest placed female helmsman ever at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club-hosted Endeavour Championship.
Grayson, sailing with Nigel Wakefield, who finished the event in sixth place overall, was noted for her extreme skill, professional composure and her consistent performance throughout the weekend. Commenting on her impressive result, ever a modest Grayson concluded: “It was really fun and I cannot believe where we finished. My biggest fear was potentially finishing last in every race, and I really didn’t expect to be any good, particularly as it was also my first time sailing with an asymmetric spinnaker. I did have an amazing crew, so that helped and I probably owe our success to him.”