Barbados Sailing Week prepares for headline event

J/24s complete series and countdown to Mount Gay Round Barbados Race underway

Bridgetown, Barbados (20 January, 2018): While final preparations are underway for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race tomorrow, the J/24 fleet crowned its winner in the closely contested final showdown in the J/24 Coastal Racing Series at Barbados Sailing Week. 

The winning J/24 team – Robbie Yearwood’s Die Hard

The winning J/24 team – Robbie Yearwood’s Die Hard

J/24 racing in Barbados never fails to attract a quality fleet so it was no surprise that competition at the two-day J/24 series at Barbados Sailing Week reached new levels. Today overnight leader Robbie Yearwood from Grenada and his team on Die Hard continued their form with wins in the two opening races. However, a shredded jib halyard and spinnaker halyard in race three, while leading, almost cost them the series but they still managed fourth place in that race. Thankfully they had done enough to secure the series with a race to spare, leaving Cyril Lecrenay and Bunga Bunga in second place just two points adrift.

A delighted/exhausted Yearwood commented: “It was a tough day having to contend with gear problems but we gathered ourselves together and got it sorted. It was a bit of a disaster not being able to take down the jib because we couldn’t have re-hoisted it, so we had to sail with it all the time plus we had to use jam cleats on the spinnaker halyard and tie it but there was so much tension that when we went to take it down it at the end of the run when we were leading it jammed and we sailed right past the mark. Funnily enough we didn’t actually have to sail the final race but we weren’t sure about our maths so we did it anyway, and really enjoyed it.”

Yearwood is now preparing the boat for the 134nm sail back to Grenada tomorrow. “Going home is easy because it’s all downwind but it will still take 24hour to get there.”

Elsewhere some competitors treated themselves to an afternoon of colonial indulgence at the specially laid on Regatta Surf & Turf Polo Match at Holders Polo Field, while others used the lay day to prepare for Barbados Sailing Week’s headline event – the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.

This 60nm sprint around the Island of Barbados, which traditionally takes place on a public holiday to celebrate Errol Barrow Day (the birthday of the first Prime Minister of Barbados, and ‘father of independence), has sparked a lot of interest with many teams keen to have a serious attempt at breaking one of the  20 records and a chance to win their skipper’s weight in rum.

Its unique format has, over the last few years, attracted serious race teams using the event as a ‘warm up’ to the Caribbean race season. Leading the charge this year at the professional/performance end of the international entry list is CSQ, the 100ft multi-winged supermaxi from Australia skippered by Ludde Ingvall a former round the world yachtsman, world champion and record holder, who arrived in town yesterday.

The local TP52 Conviction preparing for tomorrow’s Mount Gay Round the Island Race

The local TP52 Conviction preparing for tomorrow’s Mount Gay Round the Island Race

Other high-powered speedsters ready for business tomorrow include Conviction, the Botin Carkeek-designed TP52 sailed by David Staples and team from the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS), also Bryn Palmer on his RC30 catamaran Silver Bullet, and the Windrider Rave Foiling Tri sailed by local entry Sebastian O’Hara.

Charles Trevor Hunte, the current holder of the Windsurfer record with a time of 5hrs, 34mins, 55secs, on a Starboard Phantom Batwing 377 raceboard has some competition this year with Frenchmen Fabrice Cornic on a Fanatic, and Frederic Vernhes on a Starboard Phantom hoping to break Hunte’s record domination.

With foiling all the rage it is not surprising that, for the first time ever in the history of this race, four foiling kitesurfers are taking part, which means there’ll be plenty of action around the coast for spectators.

Andreas Berg who sailed from Germany last year and broke the Singlehanded Monohull record is back to defend his title on his Dufour 44 Luna, and Mat Barker’s stunning Alfred Mylne 65 The Blue Peter will attempt to break the 6hr, 11min, 19secs Classic record.

The schooner and brigs contingent also sailing in the Classic category may be the slowest in the fleet, but the three imposing tall ships, for which this race was traditionally known, will grace the waters and provide a highlight for the thousands of spectators expected to gather at vantage points around the island.

Ruth, the locally built 33m schooner is a regular supporter of the race as is Tres Hombres, the 33m working brigantine that will be racing with a total of 20 barrels of rum on board. Fabian Klenner – captain ofTres Hombres – said he and his 14-strong crew are really looking forward to the race with an aim to finish. “We have just loaded six barrels of rum from Barbados so we do have a bit more weight to carry. En-route here, we collected 14 barrels of rum from the Canary Islands and now we have six from Barbados. After this race we’ll be heading back to Den Helder in The Netherlands to deliver the goods.

“We have actually made it round the island once, the first year we were here about nine years ago but it does depend totally on the wind and current. Ideally we are looking for about Force 5 with relatively flat water so we can tack easily.”

The Russian Mini Transat 6.50, Pjotr Lezhnin Racing fresh from the Mini Transat 2018, had a good week

The Russian Mini Transat 6.50, Pjotr Lezhnin Racing fresh from the Mini Transat 2018, had a good week

Event organisers – Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc – are also delighted to welcome STS Fryderyk Chopin from Poland, which at 54m, is the largest operating brigantine in the world and has a crew of over 50.

Making up the majority of the fleet however, are the cruising and race boats including three J/24s, a Russian Mini Transat 6.50 and Whistler, the J/105 that won CSA Racing Coastal Series.

Racing begins at 0700 with staggered starts just off Barbados Cruising Club. The slowest boats (schooner and brigs) will start first, and fastest boat CQS will be last to start at 1130. From there on, the fleet will make its way around the Island clockwise and return across the finish line from the east in the afternoon.

Spectators following the race can join viewing parties planned a prime vantage points around the coast. Head to East Point Grill – St Philip, Naniki Amphitheatre – St Joseph, or North Point – St Lucy. One of the most talked about locations this year on the west coast is the recently opened Nikki Beach Barbados. Here spectators are invited to view the racing as the fleet passes between 1100-1300 and enjoy breakfast, lunch, specialty cocktails, and music by DJ Jérome Barthélémy.

 

Cyril Lecrenay’s team on Bunga Bunga sailed a good series to finish second overall

Cyril Lecrenay’s team on Bunga Bunga sailed a good series to finish second overall


J/24 action at the windward mark

J/24 action at the windward mark

One-design racing returns to Barbados Sailing Week

J/24 fleet springs into action as Coastal Series concludes

Bridgetown, Barbados (19 January, 2018): The hugely competitive local J/24 fleet enjoyed the first of its brand-new two-day race series. Today was also the final day of the Coastal Series. 

J/24 sailing at its best

J/24 sailing at its best

The launch of the J/24 race series attracted quality competition and, with four races, on short windward/leeward-style courses in Carlisle Bay, there was barely time to draw breath. The variable shifty winds up to 17kts also kept the racing exciting and close, which resulted in different winner in each race.

Gregory Webster and team on the 1981-built Phoenix started the day on a good note with an impressive bit of sailing off the line with a port tack start. Risky it may have been but this well-tuned local team sailed fast, high and, by playing the shifts and taking the favoured right-hand side of the course, they led and went on to win the first race of the day. They then finished second to Robbie Yearwood’s Die Hard in race two.

Neil Burke and team on Impulse claimed the win in race three, while Cyril Lecrenay and team on Bunga Bunga took the final win of the day in race four after a intense covering match with Die Hard on the approach to the finish line.

Commenting on closer than close final win, Lecrenay commented: “It was a tough one and, at one point, I thought we’d lost it but it was just a matter of keeping cover on Die Hard and finally finding a good line to the finish. I think it was tip top crew work that really counted today and, because we have sailed together for three years constantly we barely have to say anything to each other because everything on the boat runs smoothly.”

As well as good team work it was also consistency that paid, which means that with a win and two second places to count Yearwood and team from Grenada on Die Hard lead the series by two points fromBunga Bunga with four races to go. Yearwood chatting after the race said today’s racing was all about risk management. “Putting our lack of preparation, and confusion in the first race to one side we put our heads down, focused on our strengths with the aim to live up to our name – Die Hard. Thankfully it worked and we made a comeback. A two-point lead however, is not a comfortable margin at all so anything can happen tomorrow. Thankfully we have good speed so we plan to continue what we are doing.”

Another CSA Racing win for J/105 – Whistler

Another CSA Racing win for J/105 – Whistler

Elsewhere the final day of Coastal Racing was reaching its crescendo with fleets battling it out for all-important overall points. Although the well-sailed J/105 Whistler with Peter Lewis and his seasoned team had already secured the overall win going into the final race, the challenge was on to make it a hat-trick. Their smart pin-end start, and good first beat helped keep Conviction – David Staples’ TP52 – at bay on corrected time and, after a 16nm race that took the fleet along the south coast to Oistins, Conviction once again had to settle for second, and second place overall in the series.

Having missed a day of racing to carry out sail repairs, Andreas Berg’s team on Luna (German Dufour 44) was on form again today and took a well-deserved third. However, a final fourth place for Spirit of Juno (UK Farr 65) was enough to secure third place overall.

Bill Tempro’s Hunter 36 Sail La Vie was today finally able to break Mandy’s (Hunter 29.5) total class domination with a final race win in the Non CSA division. After winning the first two races and securing the overall series win, Bruce Robinson and team on Mandy were unable to match Sail La Vie for speed. She led the fleet round the first mark pulled out enough to take first place, which left her in second place overall by just one point.

With the all-comers Coastal Racing now concluded, competitors are looking forward to the next rum-fuelled party just along the beach from the host club at Copacabana Beach Club. Tomorrow’s lay day not only provides an opportunity for competitors to prepare for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on Sunday, but also gives teams a chance to enjoy the specially laid on Regatta Surf & Turf Polo Match, which is taking place in the afternoon at Holders Polo Field.

Four J/24 races, four different winners

Four J/24 races, four different winners

Luna – Dufour 44 – from Germany finished on a good note

Luna – Dufour 44 – from Germany finished on a good note

Mandy – Hunter 29.5 – wins Non CSA Coastal Series

Mandy – Hunter 29.5 – wins Non CSA Coastal Series

High spirits at Barbados Sailing Week

Coastal Series winners emerge with one race to go

Bridgetown, Barbados (18 January, 2018): With winds up to 17kts competitors enjoyed more thrilling sailing and tactical racing for the second day of Barbados Sailing Week .

 The second and penultimate day of the Coastal Series, traditionally known as the Two Restaurants Race, took place over a 22nm course and offered spectacular sheltered flat water/fast reaching conditions on the leg to and from the northern-most mark at Holetown just off The Beach House restaurant. On the southern part of the course to the Tapas Restaurant mark, the more lively conditions in the stunning, vibrant turquoise waters gave competitors a real taste of Caribbean sailing at its best.

Good teamwork aboard Mandy (Hunter 29.5)

Good teamwork aboard Mandy (Hunter 29.5)

Racing was close once again particularly in Non CSA division where Mandy (Hunter 29.5) sailed by Bruce Robinson and team managed to hold off their closest rivals on Bill Tempro’s Hunter 36 Sail La Vie. Tempro and team looked good off the start line and sailed well but there was little they could do to match the impressive speed of Team Mandy and had to settle for second place once again. With two wins Robinson and team have clinched the series, which means the race for second place overall will be decided in the concluding Coastal race tomorrow.

Charles Hunte, the current Windsurfer Mount Gay Round the Island Race record holder was on top form again today on his Starboard Phantom Batwing 377 raceboard although he did confess to feeling shattered after enduring a tough three-hour stint on the water. “Had a fab time and it was absolutely beautiful sailing weather but three hours ten minutes on a board was a little long. The first bit in the flat water up the west coast was ideal and was where I had the most speed. There was plenty of excitement out south too because I was joined by a mass of flying fish; they were everywhere and it was quite amazing.”

Andy Budgen racing his Exocet foiling International Moth Nano Project had a good sail but suffered with gear failure, which ultimately led to him not completing the course correctly: “It was all a bit crazy today because I had to stop and carry out more running repairs. I discovered the fitting that attaches the spreader to the shroud had broken off. I actually managed to fix it and was quite pleased with myself but blew it when I discovered I’d missed out the final mark. This week is certainly testing out my seamanship skills, that’s for sure.”

Processional it may have seemed but the long west coast leg from Carlisle Bay to Holetown provided plenty of opportunity for tactical racing. In CSA Racing, Peter Lewis’ team on the J/105 Whistlerdemonstrated its skill by managing to hold its kite for the duration of the leg (there and back), despite a few debatable moments when the reach looked almost too tight. It paid off however, and this local team of hotshots maintained pace throughout and managed to keep the ever-threatening team on the TP52 Conviction in second place.

The Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS) that runs the TP52 Conviction project that promotes youth in sailing was flying today. David Staples on the helm together with Clint Brooks (crew boss) and the young team sailed impressively and finished the day in second place overall.

Staples commented: “We thought we may have just beat them [Whistler] today but not quite. We had a great day and I have to say that of all my 40 years of sailing here, today was what I regard as classic West Indies sailing conditions; good breeze and enough sea to remind you that you are sailing on an ocean. I was also impressed with the team today they worked well and there were plenty of smiling faces, which is what it is all about.”

Barbados Sailing Week, Organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and Mount Gay, Barbados Sailing Week 2018, continues tomorrow with the final of the Coastal Racing Series and the first race of the J/24 two-day series.

In the meantime crews are taking time to relax after a tough day on the water before preparing for what is arguably the most talked about/popular social event of the week – the ultimate Mount Gay Red Cap Party at the home of Mount Gay at the distillery in nearby Bridgetown.

Caribbean sailing at its best

Caribbean sailing at its best

Barbados Sailing Week off to a cracking start

Tip top conditions for Coastal Series opener

Bridgetown, Barbados (17 January, 2018): Glorious conditions with up to 18kts of breeze and accompanying swell made for an exciting day on the water for the opening day of the three-day Coastal Series at Barbados Sailing Week.

With the wind and swell from the east, competitors enjoyed a 11-12nm course from Carlisle Bay and were back on shore this afternoon in time to relax, rest their weary limbs and enjoy the delights the local hospitality provided by the organising club – Barbados Cruising Club, and Barbados Yacht Club’s Boogie on the Beach Party.

Racing throughout the day was close and it was a delight to see such a varied mix of yachts taking part, which ranged from windsurfers and an International Moth to the 65ft Alfred Mylne classic, The Blue Peter.

Whistler on her way to her first win of the regatta

Whistler on her way to her first win of the regatta

It was a day where the emphasis on good teamwork paid dividends and this was particularly noticeable in CSA Racing Class where the super-tuned crew on Peter Lewis’ J/105 Whistler fought hard to earn their first top spot of the week. After what was probably the best start of the day, team Whistler sailed well in the tricky conditions and although they seemed to struggle with speed on the first downwind leg, they were able to comfortably hold off The Blue Peter, who had to settle for second place in class.

Another impressive performance was in Non CSA division with Mandy (Hunter 29.5) sailed by Bruce Robinson and team who seemed keen to start the week how they intend to continue. After an exceptionally close class battle last year when they were unable to hold off their closest rival Tropic Bird (Hunter 35) sailed by Mark Hioens and Priscilla Richardson, they were on top form today with a first race win. As well as Tropic Bird, who was four minutes late for the start today, Robinson and team are going to have to watch Bill Tempro’s Hunter 36 Sail La Vie who was also on form and finished the day in second place, one place ahead of Tropic Bird.

Robinson talking about his win, said: “It was undoubtedly down to good crew work. They [the crew] worked exceptionally well despite being one member down. I was also impressed with the boat’s performance after my recent boat tuning session where I made a few adjustments to the jib settings. Tomorrow’s course on the west coast will make for an interesting race and I imagine Tropic Bird and Sail La Vie will be ‘on our case, which means, as a team we are going to have to ‘sharpen our pencils’”.

Andy Budgen

International Moth sailor Andy Budgen reins in the ‘beast’

The conditions made it tough work for smaller classes but there was still plenty of fun to be had as demonstrated by Andy Budgen who was racing his new Exocet foiling International Moth Nano Project. Although he won his class, it was not without a few issues. “Today’s conditions were not ideal for me and I have to be honest, I was so off the pace. I am hoping I will improve as the week goes on.

“From my perspective flat water is everything, so in conditions like it was today it pays for me to come round the marks and head inshore immediately because the chop is hard to sail in, and not that fast. The biggest thing I had to do today was to try to slow down. As I came round the top mark it was all I could do to sheet in to slow the thing down. It was going about 25kts downwind but I got it down to about 16kts just to try to stop the thing taking off because that can only results in one thing ‘death’!”

Slightly less frantic but no less exciting was the sole multihull Silver Bullet (RC30 catamaran) – Bryn Palmer and team who zipped round the course at top speed and took their first win of the week in the Multihull class.

With the sun setting across Carlisle Bay and sounds of the Caribbean beat from beach party at Barbados Sailing Club echoing out to sea, there is no doubt this Mount Gay Rum-fuelled regatta is living up to its seriously fun legendary reputation.

Racing will continue tomorrow for Coastal Racing Day 2. The course will take the fleet up the west side of the island towards Holetown where, although potentially shifty, should be relatively flat.

Good teamwork aboard Mandy (Hunter 29.5)

Good teamwork aboard Mandy (Hunter 29.5) (Images – Peter Marshal)

The Blue Peter never fails to turn heads on the racecourse

The Blue Peter never fails to turn heads on the racecourse (Images – Peter Marshal)

Barbados Sailing Week ready to rumble

Caribbean race season officially open

 

Bridgetown, Barbados (17 January, 2018): Barbados Sailing Week incorporating the headline event – the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race – is officially underway.

16-1A skippers’ briefing at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, followed by the first of many beach parties at Barbados Cruising Club last night, gave competitors, families and guests a chance to enjoy the local Bajan hospitality to not only mark the start of this popular annual event but also celebrate the start of the Caribbean regatta season.

Barbados Sailing Week 2018, which runs from 16-24 January, is organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and Mount Gay, all of whom are proud to welcome visitors from all over the world for a week of seriously fun racing and partying.

Howard Palmer (Chairman of the Race Committee) in his opening speech at the Skippers’ Briefing made special mention of the recent re-branding of the event – Barbados Sailing Week – and Mount Gay’s continued involvement as the headline sponsor for the Round Barbados Race, which is a unique challenge that gives teams a chance to win their skipper’s weight in rum if any of the 20 records are broken.

Another change for this year’s event is the return of the hugely competitive J/24 class which, by popular demand, has its own intense, two-day/four-race series (19-20 January). Going by previous form, racing for honours in this class will closely fought with results undoubtedly going down to wire. Those signed up so far include Robbie Yearwood (IWW Die Hard), Gus Reader (Glory Daze), Neil Burke (Impulse), and Cyril Lecrenay (Bunga Bunga).

Today’s opening three-day Coastal Series for all-comers (17-19 January), looks set to produce a decent breeze, which should give keen racers a chance to enjoy stunning sailing in the clear turquoise waters off Carlisle Bay in the south-west corner of the Island.

In the meantime, entries for this popular series are still flowing in with the likes of local favourites such as Peter Lewis’ Whistler (J/105) and Conviction (Botin Carkeek-designed TP52), which are hoping to defend or better their positions from last year in CSA Racing class. Overseas entries in this class include Spirit of Juno (Farr 65), and Andreas Berg’s Luna (Dufour 44) from Germany who last year broke the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Singlehanded record.

One of the most interesting entries to keep an eye on this year is Pjotr Lezhnin Racing, a Mini Transat 6.50 sailed by Russian Pjotr Lezhnin. This Argentinian Series 6.50 competed in the 2017 Mini Transat, and Lezhnin in his newly acquired yacht says he is looking forward to putting her through her paces this week: “This is my first time here and I am intending to have fun. I recently bought the boat from my friend in Guadeloupe so this is the first time I have raced her. Ultimately my aim is to compete in the 2019 Mini Transat so from here, I will head back to France and begin my Mini Transat qualifiers.”

Gracing the waters of Barbados once again is The Blue Peter – Mat Barker’s pretty Alfred Mylne 65, which will be racing the Coastal Series as well as next Sunday’s Mount Gay Round Barbados Race. As always, the entry list for this 60nm sprint round the island of Barbados is building with those not only keen to have a go at defending records from previous years, but also those keen to have a crack at setting brand-new bench marks. Andy Budgen who established a new Foiling Monohull record last year has returned this year with a new Exocet International Moth. If the wind remains favourable, Budgen has every chance of bettering his own record, which currently stands at 4h, 23min, 18sec.

Another foiler planning to take part is Sebastian Ohara in his Windrider Wave Foiling Tri Banana Split. Charles Hunt, the local speedster/record breaker on his Phantom Batwing 377 windsurfer should have a bit more company this year in the Windsurf category with not only Frenchman Cornic Fabrice on a Fanatic taking part, but also fellow French sailor Frederic Vernhes on a Starboard Phantom. To add mix to an already interesting fleet are four kiteboard sailors who also intend to circumnavigate the island and, at the other end of the scale there will be Ruth, the locally built 33m schooner, and Tres Hombres, the 33m working Brigantine. One of the most exciting entries to make her debut at this event, and indeed one of the most likely record-breakers, is CSQ, the 100ft multi-winged supermaxi from Australia skippered by Ludde Ingvall a former round the world yachtsman, world champion and record holder. Team CQS is currently en-route to Barbados and should, if all goes to plan, arrive on Friday 19 January.

16-2

Endeavour hat trick for Saxton and Lewis

Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis win Champion of Champions’ event with a race to spare

Royal Corinthian YC, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (15 October, 2017): Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis today added another three wins to their already impressive haul of first places from yesterday to win the 2017 Endeavour Trophy series with a race to spare writes Sue Pelling.

Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis, overall winners

Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis, overall winners

Going into today’s final three-race showdown, Saxton and Lewis were just one point ahead of Nick Craig and Holly Scott (D-One) but just minutes into the first race of the day, disaster struck for Craig/Scott when gear failure forced their retirement from that race. Thankfully a swift repair job to the gooseneck meant they were back in action for the penultimate race of the series.

Craig, six-time former Endeavour winner, admitted however, that even without the gooseneck failure he believes Saxton would have been hard to beat. “It was good to have won some races from him [Saxton] yesterday because it made it all a bit more interesting with just one point between us but when we had to retire it was pretty much game over for us. To be fair to Ben, he did the business. He was going fast and it would have been tough for us to break his domination.”

In stunning summer-like temperatures and winds in the 16-18kt range, the 30-strong star-studded fleet enjoyed close tactical racing on the relatively sheltered waters of the River Crouch and Roach. As well as tip-top racing techniques required in the Phil Morrison-designed RS200, winning or losing was also down to gaining the best tidal advantage.

Commenting on his overall win for the third year in succession a delighted Saxton, fresh from his Nacra 17 world championship win, said: “It was a difficult tactical day today, and it was important to chose the correct shore. Winning here is all about tactics and thankfully because we are quick we have the advantage of having tactical options. Given the one point margin going into today’s race we always had to keep one eye on Nick and Holly. We were enjoying close racing with them in the first race, and feeling good after tacking on them and overtaking them halfway up the first beat but then their gooseneck broke, which was a shame for them.

“It was really tough this year and we had to really work very hard so I was glad to have someone like Toby at the front of the boat to make me look very good. He is a superstar.”

Lewis the supercrew, who by winning his seventh Endeavour Trophy today has now broken the event’s winning record, spoke highly of the event: Lewis added: “Coming to this event is the highlight of the year because the standard is so high with everyone a national champion. I would like to thank the Royal Corinthian YC for organising such a great event both on and off the water, and all the effort that goes on behind the scenes. It really is a special event and we always feel honoured to be part of it.”

Although Saxton and Lewis ultimately won every race, it wasn’t a complete walk over by any means, particularly in the second race of the day (race 7) when Steve and Sarah Cockerill (2000) sailed impressively to hang onto the lead for the majority of the race. Despite finishing 12th overall, a delighted Cockerill commented: “He [Saxton] managed to nibble me at the top mark on the second beat. He just managed to get inside us and because he was unquestionably quicker than us downwind we were unable to take him back.”

Roger and Jane Gilbert (International 14) quietly but confidently sailed a really impressive series to see them take third place overall. A scoreline, which included three fifth places, a third and a second was the sort of consistency required in this highly-fuelled fleet. In fourth place overall were the equally consistent Jon Gorringe and Emma Clarke (RS400) who today sailed well and finished the series with a third and two fourth places.

The young brother and sister team of Bettine (14) and Jamie Harris (Cadets), gave an indication of what they likely to achieve in the future with their impressive display in the second race today when they led to the windward mark. They finished sixth in that race and were delighted with their performance. Bettine commented: “To cross ahead of Ben Saxton at the top mark was really amazing and quite nerve-wracking especially when we were crossing gybes with Nick Craig also. Bit scary but we learnt a lot about angles and the importance of keeping up the speed at all times.”

With eight races completed the fleet headed back upriver to the Royal Corinthian YC where the prizegiving marked the closure this unique, annual champion of champions’ series for the Endeavour Trophy.

Overall Results (after 8 races)

Annie Reid (RCYC Commodore) presents Ben Saxton (left) and Toby Lewis with the Endeavour Trophy1st Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (2016 Champion) 8pts

2nd Nick Craig and Holly Scott (D-One) 23pts

3rd Roger and Jane Gilbert (International 14) 34pts

4th Jon Gorringe and Emma Clarke (RS400) 34pts

5th Christian Birrell and Rob Henderson (470 m) 36pts

6th Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright (RS200) 49pts

Red hot racing on opening day leaves reigning champs just one point ahead

Endeavour Trophy Opener

Red hot racing on opening day leaves reigning champs just one point ahead

Royal Corinthian YC, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (14 October, 2017): With three wins in the bag after today’s Endeavour Trophy opening five races, Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (reigning Endeavour champions) lead the Endeavour Trophy series by just one point from Nick Craig and Holly Scott (D-One) writes Sue Pelling.

Close racing throughout the dayIn perfect sunny conditions and wind averaging out at 15kts, the 30-strong Endeavour fleet of champions from the most popular and competitive racing classes, was put to the test with five back-to-back races in challenging tidal conditions on the River Crouch.

Olympic Nacra 17 sailor Saxton, and Lewis his super-talented crewman, in their 10-year-old RS200, started the eight-race Endeavour Series where they left off last year by notching up three straight wins in the opening races.

In a fairly strong ebbing tide and committee boat biased start line, the first race got underway in a good working breeze that made for some exciting downwind planning conditions. Saxon and Lewis slotted into the front rank immediately and at the top mark led the race by over a minute. Craig and Scott worked hard but had to settle for second.

Saxton and Lewis repeated their performance in the next two races, but in race four Craig (six-time Endeavour champion) and Scott were back on form and performed exceptionally well on downwind legs. By the second leeward mark they led the race by over 20 seconds.

Christian Birrell and Rob Henderson (470) who were lying second suffered an OCS in that race, which left Roger and Jane Gilbert (International 14) in second place, while Saxton and Lewis finished fourth. The Gilberts, who finished the day with 17 points, in third place overall are definitely going to be a team to watch in the final showdown tomorrow.

Another win for Craig and Scott in the fifth race of the day, and a second for Saxton and Lewis after a race-long battle with Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright (RS200), means there is now just one point between the two favourites.

Commenting on his impressive performance, Saxton said: “We had a fun day and we are really enjoying being back on the River competing here at the Endeavour. It is fantastic to have someone like Toby in the front of the boat.

“We came out the ‘blocks’ fast in the first three races but picked the wrong side of the beat by accident in the next, which wasn’t the best move. We did a good comeback in the last race so we are really happy. Also really happy it is now a lot more open. We have come here to race and that is what we are getting, that’s for sure.”

Second placed Craig added: “Really pleased. It was the usual really hard Endeavour competition, really hard racing, really hard starts and every inch counts upwind. Upwind we just lost a lane on one occasion when we were ahead and we found ourselves in 15th round the windward mark, just like that. It is so tough. Thankfully we had good downwind speed, which is down to good crew work from Holly. Ben [Saxton] is flying though. He has an edge upwind and downwind, which makes it quite hard to beat really.”

The standard of racing was, not surprisingly, top class throughout with the strong youth contingent performing well. Local champions Ben Hutton-Penman and Lucy Hewitson (RS Feva) suffered with gear failure in the first race but from there on they managed to gain some good consistent results in the middle of the fleet, which leaves them in 17th overall.

The brother and sister duo, Bettine (14) and Jamie Harris (Cadets) improved as the day progressed and are lying in 21st place: “Although we came mid fleet every race we are really pleased because we feel as though we are learning a lot. I am really enjoying it and we are looking forward to some more good racing tomorrow. It is tough and we are tired but it is such an experience to be here again.”

With such a close points margin, and the forecast showing more wind, the stage is well and truly set for an exciting grand finale in the concluding three races tomorrow

After a tough and exhausting day on the water, competitors are back on shore enjoying the full Endeavour experience at the annual dinner at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club where the solid silver Endeavour Trophy is on display.

Results (after five of eight races)

1st Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (2016 Champion) 5pts

2nd Nick Craig and Holly Scott (D-One) 6pts

3rd Roger and Jane Gilbert (International 14) 17pts

4th Christian Birrell and Rob Henderson (470 m) 19pts

5th Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright (RS200) 19pts

6th Jon Gorringe and Emma Clarke (RS400) 23pts