Endeavour Trophy Reports – Day 1 & 2
Royal Corinthian YC, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (9 October, 2021): Light winds and extremely strong Spring tides threatened to disrupt the opening day of the 60th anniversary Endeavour Trophy but instead four races took place in challenging, shifty conditions, writes Sue Pelling.
It was a day of mixed results with a different winner in virtually every race, but it was the Thames A Rater national champions – Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright – who won the day with a consistent set of results, which included 2,2,2,11 scoreline. They managed to beat five-time Endeavour champ Nick Craig, and Katie Burridge by just one point in the overnight standings.
A delighted Palmer said the benefit of river sailing a Thames A-Rater on the narrows at Kingston-upon-Thames really paid dividends today: “We regularly race Raters on the river, which is quite similar to what we saw today and short tacking up a bank is what we do. Actually the river at Kingston is narrower than here, so I think that really helped us today. Weighing in a just 125kg between us was also a big advantage today. Overall we really enjoyed it and doing so well today is a real bonus.”
Craig who is a known heavy weather expert was genuinely amazed at his consistency today (three fourths and a sixth place). “I am quite shocked how fast we sailed today given the fact I am not really that keen on light airs. We did much better than expected so we are really happy with that. We managed to get the starts right and from there on everything just seemed to go the right way.”
And plans for tomorrow? “I am not denying the fact we’d love 20kts but that is not going to happen so we will be continuing where we left off today.”
Getting the start right today, in the strong tides was one of the biggest challenges, which caught out many including a gaggle of Olympic medallists. Tokyo gold medallist Stuart Bithell/Jessica Hammett suffered one OCS and was black-flagged. Olympian Luke Patience/Mary Henderson who led the opening race also suffered an OCS, leaving Tom and Isabelle Stewart (National 12) to secure a well-deserved first place.
Arron Holman and Toby Lewis (RS200) maintained a string of top 10 results, which left them in overnight third place just ahead of Patience/Henderson in fourth. Commenting on the secret of success in the tricky, light conditions, Patience said:
“In conditions like we had today the key is to first get a good start and not be over the line! The aim then was to try to make a clear path strategically not necessarily tactically. For us today it was a case of just trying to make sure we were in the right part of the ‘ocean’ all the time, while keeping in clear air.”
Although results will change significantly tomorrow when discards come into play, it is good to see so many junior teams in the running. Among those who really sailed impressively today were Patrick Bromilow and Tabitha Davies (Optimist) who weigh just 90kg. This lightweight team made some first class starts and opened the day’s racing with two third places.
Bromilow (13) commenting on his results said: “Today was all about tidal advantages and keeping up the momentum. We also had some good starts, which of course helps in these tricky conditions. It was fun and we are looking forward to tomorrow where we plan to do more of the same in the light winds expected.”
One of the highlights of the day that will doubtless be remembered for many years to come is the final race win by Millie Irish (17) and Joe Warwicker (16). This pair (RS Feva) stormed off from the startline, made the most of the strong ebbing tide, sailed their own race and won by one minute 15 seconds.
An elated Irish said: “I am so happy. My dad [Steve Irish – Endeavour coach] will definitely not believe it.” Commenting on how they won, Millie added: “We went right up the first beat in the tide and just focused on ourselves and had the advantage of clear air. Also it was imperative to hug the north shore out of the tide on the long run. Can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Back on shore this evening competitors and guests enjoyed the grand 60th anniversary Endeavour dinner with special guest speakers Keith Musto, Olympic silver medallist (1964 Tokyo Olympics) and first ever Endeavour winner in 1961, joining forces on ‘stage’ with Stuart Bithell, gold medallist (2021 Tokyo Olympics).
Overnight leader – Thames A Rater – Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright (17pts)
Royal Corinthian YC, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (10 October, 2021): After a couple of mixed results on the opening day yesterday, including an OCS, silver medallist Luke Patience and Mary Henderson won the Endeavour Champion of Champions title with two final race wins, writes Sue Pelling.
After a three-hour postponement waiting for the breeze to fill in, the 31-strong fleet enjoyed the two final races of the Investec-sponsored Endeavour Trophy. An 8-9kt northerly breeze was just enough to allow for a decent windward/leeward course but the strong Spring tide was, once again, the dominating factor, that kept competitors on their toes right to very end.
Winning the start was everything today, which was clearly demonstrated by Patience and Henderson, particularly in the first race. It was imperative to take an immediate hitch over to the right-hand side of the course out of the tide. For Patience/Henderson once they were in control after a couple of perfect tacks, they were able to take advantage of the clear air and score their first win of the day, with Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore (RS800) in second place. Their nearest rivals – Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright (Thames A Rater) – finished a close third.
With three points between the top two boats (Patience/Henderson and Palmer/Seabright) going into the second and final race of the day, the pressure was on. A bit of a battle took place off the start line but once again Patience/Henderson were able to repeat their performance and secure another win, which was enough for an overall win. Palmer/Seabright were always in contention but they had to settle for a close second, which after their impressive results from the opening day, were able to take second place overall.
For Patience and Henderson winning the 2021 Endeavour Trophy was a case of completing some unfinished business from the last Endeavour in 2019. Patience recalls it well: “Indeed, it almost feels like a bit of redemption from when we almost won two years ago but mucked up on a gybe on the last run.
“In a way it makes it even more special to have finally won the Endeavour. It was really great racing.”
Commenting on today’s game plan, Patience added: “In both races we managed to get free of the fray early and that was very important today. We spent a lot of time before the racing chatting about our options and did a ton of transits on the line before the start so we could be accurate enough to get on port early.”
A delighted Henderson added: “Winning the Endeavour is a real life achievement and to become the champion of champions, helm or crew, is very special. Also, my dad [Will Henderson] will be delighted because this is his 21-year-old boat!”
Second placed Palmer said: “It feels great to have finished second in the Endeavour Trophy. Amy and I haven’t sailed together for several years, so I was a bit nervous about how we would perform but it all came together and we surprised ourselves. It was also great to sail against such a competitive fleet and have a good race at the top with the likes of Luke Patience because he doesn’t make mistakes.”
Although Nick Craig – five time previous Endeavour winner – is not known for particularly enjoying light airs, he admits that this weekend, where the wind hardly reached 10kts, he surprised himself. He and Katie Burridge sailed well and with four fourth places to count, they found themselves in a respectable third place overall. Craig said: “Regardless of the conditions, the Endeavour never fails to produce top class racing. I was pleasantly surprised how well we did in the extremely light airs yesterday and I definitely feel it was as well as we could have hoped for.”
Arran Holman and Toby Lewis (RS200) weren’t as on form as they had hoped for this weekend but nevertheless notched up a string of consistent results, which left them in fourth place overall, just four points behind Craig/Burridge.
Holman said although he had crewed the Endeavour a few times before this was his first time helming at the Endeavour. “It was a great experience. Also, having Toby [Lewis] as crew – a legend of the event – I couldn’t have had a better guy at the front dragging me round the course at times, telling me where to go. Overall though, the Endeavour has a fantastic atmosphere and it is so great to have so many awesome sailors and legends of the sport all together pushing really hard.”
A final mention must be made of the highest place junior sailors (RS Feva) – Millie Irish (17) and Joe Warwicker (16). As well as winning yesterday’s final race, they sailed impressively once again and finished the day with a fifth place, which left them in a respectable seventh place overall.
Irish said they were delighted to get another chance to race today: “At the start of the day, with no wind, we didn’t think we’d get another chance, so we were so pleased the wind finally filled in. We have learned so much this weekend. The biggest lesson was realising just how much even the tiniest mistake can cost you because everyone is so good.”
Back on shore after racing this afternoon, competitors and guests attended the 60th Endeavour prizegiving where the winners were presented with the spectacular solid silver model, and the half model of the America’s Cup J-Class yacht Endeavour.
Plans are already underway for next year’s Investec-sponsored Endeavour Trophy, which is taking place on 8-9 October 2022.
Overall Results (6 races, 5 to count)
1st Olympian 470 – Luke Patience and Mary Henderson (7pts)
2nd Thames A Rater – Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright (11pts)
3rd RS400 – Nick Craig and Katie Burridge (22pts)
4th RS200 – Arran Holman and Toby Lewis (26pts)
5th Solo – Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby (38pts)
6th Merlin Rocket – Christian Birrell ad Matt Mee (44pts)
For full results go to: 2021 Results
Report by Sue Pelling
Photography by Roger Mant