On the breezy opening day of the 58th Endeavour Trophy, Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis managed to lead at the top mark and win all four races by a considerable margin.
In a case of continuing where they left off last year, the reigning champs Saxton and Lewis sailed smart and never once faltered in the challenging windy conditions the 30-strong fleet had to face today. With consistently strong winds that shifted through 10-15 degrees, the super-fast sailors appeared to race in a league of their own and were never once seriously challenged. In fact most races they won by over two minutes.
Chatting on the way in after four intense windward/leeward races in the River Roach, a content Saxton commented: "That was a good day and we are really happy with how it went, and it is great to be back in the boat with Toby. We had some good starts, which is always good and starting at the pin end in the last one was a good move. I do however, put today's success down to Toby who always manages to keep the boat dead flat, both upwind and downwind."
Closest rivals today included Christian BIrrell and Sam Brearey (Merlin Rocket) as well as Nick Craig and Emma Clarke (D-One). BIrrell and Brearey sailed consistently well at the top of the fleet throughout the four races and finished the day in second place, seven points behind the leaders.
Brearey who has raced twice before at the Endeavour chatting about tactics said: "It is always close racing at the Endeavour and, to be honest, it doesn't get any easier. Today the gains and losses were on the downwind legs. If you could stay in the pressure and continue going fast downwind, then that was the key, for sure."
Birrell added: "We had a good time but we'd like to be a bit closer to Ben [Saxton] if we could. Downwind, in particular, he is on a different level."
With six Endeavour wins under his belt, Craig was not going to let Saxton off lightly but today he was unable to match the speed no matter what he did and eventually had to settle for third place, 10 points behind the leader.
A notable impressive performance came from the sole female helmsman, Maria Stanley (RS200) who had Alan Roberts – double Endeavour winning crew – at the front end.
This pair was consistently fast and was always in contention, finishing the first race of the day in second place to Saxton/Lewis. Stanley commented on her first Endeavour experience: "So far it has been a great experience but I have to confess that I am shattered now. I am looking forward to a fun evening but also looking forward to getting out there again tomorrow, to build on what we achieved today, particularly as it is forecast to be slightly lighter airs, which will suit us more."
Alan Roberts said being light in these conditions is challenging. "We are less than optimum weight at about 118-120kg, so we are really happy to be there with the big boys. Our aim was to sail into clear air and keep away from others as much as we could and sail our own race. Thankfully it seemed to work."
Stanley and Roberts with 15pts are one place behind Craig/Clarke, which means there is everything to play for tomorrow.
Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore (RS800) sailed well today and finished a respectable fifth overall. Their best result of the day was the final race where they finished second to the winning duo.
Among the young sailors taking part, the local Hutton-Penman brothers, Ben and James (RS Aero 5) should be pleased with their 12th place, with individual results that included a ninth in the first race of the day.