Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis fought back in today’s breezy conditions to secure the overall win of the Investec-sponsored Endeavour Trophy, for the sixth time and a record fifth time in a row, writes Sue Pelling.
In total contrast to the opening day’s flat conditions yesterday, the breeze was full-on today making it one of the most exciting final days seen in recent years with the results going right down to the wire.
After a relatively mediocre set of results from yesterday that included a couple of sixth places, Saxton and Lewis were on top form once again today and demonstrated their superiority on the Endeavour Trophy racecourse with an impressive 2,1,1 scoreline, which was just enough to snatch the title by just two points from James Peters/Maddy Anderson (RS200).
Chatting about his win, a delighted Saxton said: “Wining the Endeavour Trophy again is a great feeling. It was wicked fun out there and we sailed really well today.
“Given our results from yesterday, we needed to be low risk because although we were chasing it we didn’t want to count one of our sixth places. Our strategy was to be low risk on the start line then sail well and pick up places on the round.
Ever the gentleman, Saxton graciously put today’s success down to the expertise of his crew: “Toby’s level of sailing is just unbelievable. Going up the first beat we are usually about fifth or sixth but by the top mark we are leading. Without doubt, I can put that wholeheartedly down to Toby.”
Having finished the day yesterday in fourth place, Peters and Anderson (RS200) were on fire today with an impressive performance in race one where they managed to hold off Saxton/Lewis and score their first win of the series. They followed up this with a fifth and a second finishing the day just two points astern of the winners and in second place overall.
“We are really happy with second particularly as we didn’t sail brilliantly yesterday. We had a few problems with our downwind boat speed in the light winds, which cost us a lot but in the breeze today we were going really well. Very pleased and it has been awesome sailing with Maddy at the nationals and at this event.”
With an overnight lead of just one point, Luke Patience – Tokyo 2020 Team GBR sailor and Olympic silver medallist – and Mary Henderson, knew they had a lot on today. The breezy conditions didn’t seem to affect them dramatically, given their weight disadvantage against some of the heavier teams, until the final race of the day. Up to this point they still led the series from Saxton/Lewis but a capsize in the strong building winds dashed their winning chances.
Patience commented: “It was looking good until our capsize today but nevertheless I think Mary and I have done ourselves proud, particularly with a storming day yesterday. It has been a great weekend’s racing and a pleasure to smash round the course with all the best sailors.”
Sam and Ben Whaley (Laser) continued to sail as impressively today as they did yesterday and, by adding two fifths and a second to their consistent string of results, they finish the series in fourth place overall. They were always in the top three at the windward mark and just seemed to get better and better.
Having sailed the Endeavour two years ago the Whaley boys said their aim was to improve dramatically. Sam commented: “We didn’t know much about the RS200 two years ago and finished middle of the fleet, so went away, made amends and it seems to have paid off. This time the aim was to sail consistently so we are exceptionally happy it worked out. The other thing is we are Laser sailors so we know how to hike, which was just a big advantage today. We also seemed to make some good decisions which made all the difference.”
Nick Craig and Emma Clarke who are no strangers to the top end of the Endeavour fleet suffered a mediocre day yesterday were back on form today but couldn’t quite match the speed of the leaders and had to settle for three third places and fifth place overall.
Craig, who is known for his love of breezy conditions said: “As much as we would have loved a final windy race, it was absolutely the right decision to call it a day. As always it was a fantastic weekend of sailing and hospitality, and we look forward to hopefully returning in the future.”
Exactly as predicted, the big winds that had been building all morning arrived on cue in the closing stages of the seventh race so the final race of the eight-race series was cancelled.
Edwin Buckley, event director and race officer commenting on his decision to cancel the final race said: “With the wind in excess of 25kts as predicted, and forecast to increase further I felt it prudent to call it a day to ensure the safety of competitors and safety-boat crew.”