Crews prepare for next week’s Endeavour Championship at Burnham

Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (2 October, 2013): The Endeavour Championship for the Topper Sailboats-supported-Endeavour Trophy is taking place at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouch next week (11-13 October).

The fleet of 25 invited champions and their crews from all around the country will race a fleet of brand-new Ian Howlett-designed Topaz Xenons to establish the 2013 dinghy Champion of Champions.

endeavour_trophy2Although last year’s winners, Ben Saxton and Alan Roberts (RS200) won’t be at the event to defend their title, Nick Craig – five-times winner – and crewman Toby Lewis (Merlin Rocket) who finished second last year, plus Jasper Barnham and Graham Sexton (Laser 2000), who finished third are, once again, preparing for a an exciting battle.

Another key player is Christian Birrell (Fireball) who’ll be aiming to repeat his Endeavour winning performance of 2010 when he crewed for Stuart Bithell (2012 Olympic silver medallist in the 470). This time Birrell will be at the helm, crewed by Richard Anderton.

Birrell, who has competed at this event three times in the past, both as crew and helmsman says the Endeavour Trophy is the event he looks forward to most. “The event provides fantastic racing, in perfectly matched boats against the best national class sailors in the UK.

“I love the event because I get to go racing against all my mates from all the different classes, in a class of boat, which we are all equally unpractised in! At least half the fleet is very evenly matched, which makes the racing extremely close. Burnham is also an extremely difficult place to sail, and offers something very different to the venues we all typically race in.”

Jasper Barnham endorsing Birrell’s opinion, added: “For me it is the best event of the season – bar none.

“Being able to test ourselves against the best in the country is reason we come to the Endeavour. Sailing against Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience last year was a huge thrill… We came away having learnt a huge amount, if we can learn as much this year then it will be a success for us.”

Jono Pank (Firefly) who has raced the Endeavour twice before, says: The Endeavour has slightly untouchable aura because you can’t get in any other way than winning your own champs… I see it as an elite club, and your membership expires very quickly – getting in is the toughest bit, unless you’re Nick Craig, of course.”

In an effort to ensure racing is as fair as possible, the race committee set the windward/leeward courses downriver from the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, at the mouth of the River Roach, or in a similar suitable location depending on the state of the tide and wind direction. This also gives spectators and supporters a chance to view the racing from the sea wall.

The three-day event kicks off on Friday 11 October with the Calltracks-sponsored pre-event training session, run by ABC for Winning coach Adam Bowers. The eight-race, seven to count Endeavour Trophy series starts at 1030 on Saturday morning (12 October) with the plan to run five, 45-minute races back-to-back on windward/leeward courses. The remaining three races are scheduled to take place on Sunday morning (13 October). This is however, subject to change depending on the weather situation.

The grand Endeavour dinner is on Saturday night at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, and a limited number of tickets are still available at £21 from Kate Boothy at the RCYC office. Telephone: +44 (0) 1621 782105, or e-mail:

Confirmed entries to date

29er Owen Bowerman and Morgan Peach
Albacore Nev Herbert and Mark Fowler
D One Charlie Chandler and crew tba
Fireball Christian Birrell and Richard Anderton
Firefly Jono Pank and crew tba
GP14 Andy Tunnicliffe and Chris Robinson
Laser 2000 Jasper Barnham and Graham Sexton
Merlin Rocket Nick Craig and Alan Roberts
Miracle Sam Mettam and Martyn Lewis
Feva Elliot Wells and Jake Todd
RS100 Colin Smith and Graham Williamson
RS200 Matt Mee and Emma Norris
RS400 Stewart and Sarah Robinson
RS500 Mike Saul and Meg Fletcher
RS700 Robbie Bell and Stephen Powell
RS800 James Date and Toby Wincer
Scorpion Steve Hall and Oliver Wells
Solo Charlie Cumbley and Pete Cumming
Topper Ben Jennings and Giles Kuzyk
Topper 4.2 Crispen Beaumont and Chris Bownes

Nick Craig interview with Sue Pelling

Craig on method of preparation for a national or world championship?

Most championships are won before the event because preparation is everything. Quality time on the water is the best preparation. Racing against the best people possible, having a few learning objectives each time you sail, and to be willing to experiment with new things outside the big events. Ideally your sailing should have a mix of racing, two-boat tuning and solo practice depending on your strengths and weaknesses. Fitness is also really important. I generally step up a gear in the gym and bike in the six weeks preceding a major event.

Nick Craig and Toby Lewis

Nick Craig and Toby Lewis

On what gives him the edge over his competitors. Is it psychological, physical, talent, best equipment, or a good mix of each?

It’s actually rare that I’ve had an edge – I’ve lost a lot more championships than I’ve won. The time I perhaps had an edge was 2005-7 and I’d say that was down to a lot of quality sailing and gym work. I was doing more sailing and gym work in 2005-7 than at any time in my life and any other amateur. I think there are many more talented sailors than me; it took me many years to win major events whereas more talented sailors have done that much faster. I’d say I have won events through hard work and strong preparation rather than superior talent. Hard work pays off in the end.

I always aim to sail with the best equipment. But I don’t think that has given me an edge in the classes I sail because everyone has access to the same equipment, which is a feature I like.

Psychologically, I like big events especially when it goes down to the wire on the last day. They are my favourite days, I love that buzz. I think that mindset helps.

On addressing his weaknesses?

A mix of working hard on them and not getting too hung up on them – you can go a long way through leveraging your strengths. For example, the 2008 Endeavour was light airs and we were heavy but won it though winning most of the starts to make up for our lack of boatspeed.

I generally struggle most with light airs pace, partly because I switch boats a lot. Time in a particular boat is key for light airs pace whereas I find time in any boat works in more breeze. As much two-boat tuning as I can do in those conditions with a fast partner is very effective though not always easy to arrange. I’ve had an edge in light airs when I’ve put in the quality time to earn one.

On using other sports to enhance fitness on the racecourse?

I aim to have a varied programme to keep it interesting so sustainable. I do a fair bit of cycling, swimming, rowing machine, weights and circuits. In the build up to a major event, I’ll focus more on what is required for that boat. For example the OK is hard on the legs but not on the upper body so I’ll focus on leg work whereas the Finn needed a lot of both. I think fitness has been a major edge for me in amateur sailing, though it’s getting tougher to maintain that as the years pass. The pro sailors were always fitter than me, sailing the Finn for three years was great for me in realising just how fit it’s possible to be, I stepped up a fair bit during that period

On the reasons behind the decision to remain an amateur sailor?

I have a realistic understanding that I’m not good enough to make the Olympics. I’d never have beaten the likes of Ben [Ainslie] and others even with unlimited time. Whilst there may have been a professional route in yacht sailing, I much prefer dinghy sailing, so the amateur route has made sense for me and I’ve loved it and have no regrets.

On his first Endeavour Trophy win?

I was 30 representing the OK class. It took me five attempts to win the Endeavour; it is an extremely tough event. Stu Bithell, James Peters and Ben Saxton who all won or nearly won it at their first attempts are exceptionally talented, that wasn’t something I was able to come close to.

On his closest Endeavour rivals?

There have been many all with very different sailing styles, which is what makes it so interesting. I think Jim Hunt, Geoff Carveth and Roger Gilbert have been the most consistent performers over the years with James Peters and Ben Saxton hugely impressive over the last few years.

On the choice of Endeavour boats over the years, and the most successful?

I love racing the Enterprise and RS400 but the Xenon has been a huge success due to Topper’s excellent support. They provide 25 ready to sail boats, which makes it easy for people to compete and ensures as level playing field as is possible.

On his plan of action to ensure a best possible chance of winning?

Secure the best possible crew.

On selecting a crew for the Endeavour championship?

I think the two key qualities needed are to get a crew with a great feel for a boat so the boathandling comes together quickly, and exceptional hiking fitness because eight races in two days is tough, particularly in a breeze.

On the importance of attending the Endeavour Trophy training day?

For me the training day is key. I take a little longer than some of the uber-talented sailors to get up to speed so I like that time in the boat to get the feel of it again. And starting is so important at the Endeavour so we’ll put ourselves under pressure on the start line on the training day by pushing the ends to sharpen ourselves up as fast as possible.

On the difference between competing at the Endeavour Trophy and a class championship?

A big difference. Burnham is highly tidal and the courses are short. Starting, boathandling and boat on boat tactics therefore become much more important. It’s been a good event for me as these are my strengths whereas big course champs play a little more on my weaknesses.

On the importance of winning the Endeavour Trophy?

It’s a fantastic event with more depth of competition than almost any other UK event, so it is very important to me.

And finally, on giving advice to Endeavour first timers?

Spend the practice day working on your starting/slow speed boathandling so you can focus as much as possible on the racing at the weekend. Chat to as many people as possible with Endeavour experience to get an understanding of the tides.

2013 Endeavour Trophy update

Endeavour Trophy update

Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex (25 September, 2013): Following a year of exceptionally intense competition on the dinghy racing circuit, a fine selection of champions has materialised and will be in Burnham-on-Crouch next month to contest the ultimate dinghy champion of champions title for the Endeavour Trophy.

endeavour_trophy1The Endeavour Championship for the Topper Sailboats-supported-Endeavour Trophy is taking place at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouch on 11-13 October.

The champions will race a fleet of 25 brand-new Ian Howlett-designed Topaz Xenons, kindly supplied by Topper with help from event sponsors Allen Brothers, Calltracks, Hyde Sails, Selden, English Braids, Petticrows, Musto, and Noble Marine.

Plans announced earlier this year, to introduce the Topaz Argo for the 2013 event are on hold due to exceptionally high levels of demand for this popular new design. Although the Argo, with its strict one-design status, is expected to prove an equally ideal choice of boat for the event, the Xenon, which has been used for the last eight years, is still a great option to continue providing excellent, equal racing for a wide range of all-up crew weights of between 18-24 stone (114-152 kilos).

This annual end of season event, promises to be one of the best yet with a quality entry including a selection of former Endeavour competitors, and former Endeavour champion Nick Craig.

Craig (39) has won the Endeavour Trophy a total of five times, which makes him the joint most successful Endeavour champion in history. He is one of the greatest amateur dinghy sailors of all times having notched up a total of seven world championship titles and no less than 22 national championship titles in a variety of classes over the last decade.

One of his most significant championship achievements was in 2011 when he won his fourth OK world championship title. Until 2004, this event had never been won by a British sailor, which makes his series of wins even more impressive.

In the same year, in 2011, he won his fifth Endeavour title and was recognised for his achievements by winning the 2011 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year Award.

Craig continues to succeed in the dinghy racing arena and, having won the Merlin Rocket national championship this year, has secured his place at the 2013 Endeavour Championship. In the run-up to this year’s event Craig explains what it takes to win a championship, prepare for the Endeavour Trophy, and offers advice to his fellow competitors.

Governor’s Cup Roundup

Royal Cape One-Design beats Stadt 34 on corrected time

Friday January 4, 2013 – Thinus Groenewald’s Royal Cape One-Design – Reaction – has won the 2012 Governor’s Cup – the 1,750-mile bi-annual race from Simon’s Town, South Africa, to the Atlantic island of St Helena, which started on 22 December.

Thinus Groenewald and team aboard Reaction, celebrate their overall win of the 2012 Governor’s Cup - Photo SHBC

Groenewald, together with his three-strong crew, Corne and Ruan Groenewald, and Nicolaas Basson, all from Royal Cape Yacht Club, completed the race in just under 12 days (11d, 23h, 43m, 53s) which was just enough to beat Indaba – John Levin’s Stadt 34 – on corrected time.

Although the race for the Governor’s Cup was close right from the start within the Racing Monohull fleet, the battle for overall honours between these two intensified dramatically over the final few days. For Team Reaction it was all about unfinished business from the previous Governor’s Cup Race.

Thinus Groenewald commenting on his win said: ‘It certainly was all about unfinished business because last time when we were flying towards St Helena our rudder failed and we had to pull into Saldanha Bay to fit a new one. We then rejoined the fleet, found a new weather system and blasted our way all the way to St Helena. We were convinced we could have won that one had we not had gear failure. Therefore we are absolutely delighted with this result and really feel as though we have now achieved our goal. We had a great race, albeit a little light at the start, but once we found the breeze we enjoyed a fabulous sail all the way to the island.”

Elsewhere in the fleet excitement builds to establish an overall winner in the Rally monohull fleet where Ivan Flodgren and the Swedish team aboard their Hallberg Rassey Rasmus 35 – Kuheli – are desperately trying to beat Peter Bosch and Stephen Jennings’ Tosca 39 JML Rotary Scout. Although JML Rotary Scout, crewed by a group of Scouts from Cape Town and St Helena aged between 16-18 years old, finished the race last night, the Swedes are still in with a chance of taking the overall win if they cross the finish line by 11:22:50 on Saturday 5 January.

Compromise – the overall winner of the Rally Multihull fleet. - Photo - SHBC

The overall winner of the Rally Multihull fleet is Robert Newman’s Du Toit catamaran – Compromise – from False Bay Yacht Club. Although Kevin Webb and Sarel van der Merwe’s super-fast Farrier F9AX trimaran, Banjo, beat them on the water Team Compromise sailed consistently throughout their 12-day voyage and were able to maintain their favourable time on handicap to secure the overall win. In third place overall is Sandpiper 2 – Abri Erasmus/Paul Tanner’s Simonis Voogd 42ft catamaran, which completed the race in just over 11 days.

Billy Leisegang – Principal Race Officer commenting on the 2012 Governor’s Cup, said: “It has been a huge success all round, thanks particularly to the wonderful group of organisers both in South Africa and on St Helena who devoted their time through Christmas and New Year to make it happen. As for the actual racing, generally any yacht leaving Cape Town leaves in a screaming south-easter, so coping with the initial strong winds is often a problem. This time round however, it was unusually light. Although it probably did cause a bit of frustration among the competitors early on, they all managed to keep their spirits high throughout, and going by their reaction at the finish, all seem to have had the most fabulous sail, which is what it is all about.”



Notes to editors

The Governor’s Cup Race is a downwind 1,700 nautical mile ocean yacht race organised by False Bay Yacht Club,, and is now claimed to be an entry on many sailor’s ‘bucket list’. First held in 1996, the Governor’s Cup Race is a bi-annual event starting from False Bay Yacht Club in the quaint naval town of Simon’s Town, South Africa finishing in Jamestown, St Helena. For further details on the race including race documents, visit


This year the race is being supported for the first time by Enterprise St Helena, which promotes the growth of economy of St Helena through the development of existing businesses and the promotion of the island to new investors and developers. With the opening of the island’s airport due by late 2015, it is anticipated that tourism, and marine tourism in particular, will be a key economic driver for the island and its community. For further details visit


For further details on St Helena Island, visit


The Governor’s Cup race is proud to be supported by Andrew Weir Shipping SA (Pty) Ltd – and RMS St Helena –


For further media information please contact Sue Pelling:

Olympics Line-up Complete

The RYA announced in a press release that the British sailing line-up for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been completed (Wednesday 9 May) with the announcement of sailor selections in the Laser Radial, 49er and 2.4mR events.

Alison Young, Laser Radial. Photo: Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR.

The British Olympic Association has confirmed the RYA’s nominations of Alison Young, who will make her Olympic debut in the Laser Radial event, and Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes who gain their second Olympic Games call-up in the 49er class, while Helena Lucas joins the ParalympicsGB ranks in the one-person 2.4mR event.

These four sailors complete the full complement of 16 sailors to compete across ten events on the Olympic sailing programme (29 July-11 August), and six sailors across three events at the Paralympic sailing competition (1-6 September), which will be held in Weymouth and Portland, where the final British selections were unveiled today.

Team GB sailors for 2012:
Ben Ainslie – Finn
Paul Goodison – Laser
Alison Young – Laser Radial
Bryony Shaw – RS:X Women
Nick Dempsey – RS:X Men

Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark – 470 Women

Luke Patience & Stuart Bithell – 470 Men
Stevie Morrison & Ben Rhodes – 49er
Iain Percy & Andrew Simpson – Star
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush & Kate Macgregor – Women’s Match Racing

ParalympicsGB sailors for 2012:
Helena Lucas – 2.4mR

Alexandra Rickham & Niki Birrell – SKUD
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel & Steve Thomas – Sonar