A total of 30 entries have signed up for the dinghy champion of champions’ event – the Endeavour Trophy – this weekend (13-15 October).
Not only is this one of the largest entries ever recorded, it is also one of the few events in the world where such a concentrated group of champions compete against each other in the same class of boat, writes Sue Pelling.
To ensure a relatively level ‘playing field’, this invitational championship, for national, European or world champions from the most popular dinghy racing classes, will be contested, for the third year in succession, in one-design RS200s.
At today’s opening Calltracks-sponsored training session headed by Steve Irish – one of the UK’s leading dinghy racing coaches – the fleet made the most of the fresh, yet mild conditions to familiarise themselves with their boats.
With new suits of sails courtesy of RS Sailing and Hyde Sails, Irish was kept busy throughout the day both on and off the water, offering tips and advice on fine-tuning the RS200. A mid morning briefing, and on-the-water session was followed by a video debrief back at the club this afternoon, and a summary of the day’s training.
Irish, a former champion and Endeavour competitor said although the fleet clearly have transferable skills, a bit of extra help when it comes to boat setup is always useful: “The key thing today was to get the fleet on the water to give them a chance to set up their boats for the conditions.
“The format with a constant stream of short races running throughout the afternoon worked well with teams able to dip in and dip out of the races as much as they wanted. The idea of the video de-brief was to offer a bit of advice for those struggling with boat handling techniques, particularly those unfamiliar with the RS200.
“Even the guys who have sailed RS200s before will have to take into account that sailing here on the River Crouch at Burnham with its tidal complications and the fact it will be fairly breezy, means there is a lot to take in.”
Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis – double Endeavour champions – who are back to defend their title, have a tough challenge ahead given the particularly strong level of talent at this year’s event. With the likes of serial Endeavour champions Nick Craig and Holly Scott (D-One), Christian Birrell (470), and Matt Burge and Tom Pygall (Fireball), lining up on the start line tomorrow, racing is expected to be intense.
Competitors for this bumper event have travelled from far afield, including Federico and Filippo Maccari (RS 500) from Italy, and Stuart Urquhart and Brendan Lynch, who made the long road trip from Kinloss, Moray, Scotland earlier today.
There is also a good showing of young sailors to watch out for such as local champions Ben Hutton-Penman and Lucy Hewitson (RS Feva), Bettine and Jamie Harris (Cadets), and Jamie Cook and Finley Dickinson (Optimist) from Penarth, Wales. The youngest competitor is Imogen Wade (11) sailing with her father Dave (Mirror).
As they came off the water this afternoon, Ben Saxton offered a friendly bit of advice to fellow competitors as they prepare for 2017 Endeavour Trophy race opener tomorrow: “Have fun, and enjoy it for the spectacle that it is, as well as the racing because you’ll never come up against a fleet of such good sailors. My top tip is not to underestimate the tide. If you are considering a manoeuvre don’t think twice; do it.”
Looking ahead at the conditions for the start of the eight-race Endeavour Championship series, which kicks off at 1030, Edwin Buckley, event director and race officer commented: “I am delighted we have a full house of 30 entries this year, and with some good winds expected, there is every indication that 2017 is going to produce some exceptionally competitive racing.
“The forecast is for a good south-south-westerly breeze of about 15kts and scorching sunshine, which couldn’t be better. My intention, depending on the wind of course, is to run up five or six races on Saturday with the remaining races on Sunday.”