Endeavour 2007 : The Daily Sail reports 9 Oct 2007
Nick Craig started the day as firm favourite and was expected by many to put on his usual dominant display, taking out his fourth consecutive Endeavour win. However, the 15 knot easterly breeze did not seem to suit the three time defending champion as another team showed their dominance.
With the tide turning just before the start of race one, pushing the fleet upwind, starting was always going to be a difficult prospect. Add to this the position of the startline, which had the committee boat on the edge of the deepwater channel, and it was a surprise we only saw the small number of recalls we did throughout the day.
With 30 seconds to go until the start of race one it was clear the entire fleet was going to be a long way over. A general recall was called and the fleet prepared to go again. 20 minutes after the advertised start-time and the fleet was off, racing to get to the deep water channel where the most tide was. However, a surprising number of boats hit the left hand side of the course and at the top it was clear the advantage from the deepwater channel was slight. The fleet is sailing a windward/leeward with a short spreader mark at the top of the course. As the boats rounded the spreader mark for the first time it was clear Craig was going to have some competition on his hands as Steve Tylecote and Toby Lewis (representing the Firefly fleet) were solidly in front of him.
Come the next lap even more problems appeared for Craig as Tom Jeffcoate and Mark Hogan (Fireball) snuck past him to steal second place. Here the positions remained until the finish with Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne (National 12) showing their form to take fourth.
RACES TWO & THREE
It was to be Tylecoat and Lewis’ day though as they went on to win the next race and take second in the third, an impressive piece of consistent sailing, showing a real desire to win. Meanwhile Craig was struggling, picking up a second and a disappointing seventh to add to his first race. Another favourite for the event, Roger Gilbert (Merlin Rocket) was struggling to find form with a sixth, seventh and first. More surprising than either of these was the terrible set of results posted by Rob and Pete Greenhalgh (International 14). A poor start to the event saw the brothers picking up a ninth position; this was followed by an unfortunate gear failure forcing them to drop out while they repaired this problem. Finally in race three the pair seemed to find their stride and managed a third place.
The wind had picked up a little for race four and a combination of this and the tide slackening saw the fleet sailing a much more tactical downwind leg. Where previously all teams had been gybing down the nearest shore, now the leg had opened up enabling more and more tactical decisions to come into it. However, although this slight change in conditions did open up the racing a little more Tylecoat keep the scores coming, notching up yet another win to add to his previous two. Craig managed only a sixth, Gilbert a 15th, while Steve Cumley and Eluned Jones (Lark) sailed an impressive race to finish second. Once again, though, eyes were on the Greenhalghs as they were black-flagged leaving them close to the back of the fleet. They are, tonight protesting the call, though with a lack of video evidence it seems unlikely they will get the decision thrown out.
The final race of the day saw the breeze increase yet further still and it felt like business at usual on the Crouch. Nick Craig took victory in the 17 knot winds, despite a close fought struggle with Keith Escritt and Elaine Marsh (Vortex). Tylecoat and Lewis had their only hiccup of the day scoring an eighth, while Jeffcoate and Hogan ended their ultra-consistent day with a disappointing 14th position.
Racing continues tomorrow with the forecast looking light. In fact the weather looks so light organisers were today discussing if there would be enough breeze for any racing at all tomorrow. We will wait and see.
After a long day out on the water on day one of the Endeavour Trophy, held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, competitors awoke on day two to find practically no wind, which had been predicted and one less team, which had not. Robert and Peter Greenhalgh, representing the International 14 fleet went home early following a disappointing day out on the water on Saturday, including a black flag decision that they protested but was upheld.
As competitors arrived at the club and peered at the racing area, the whole river was glassy with not a breath of wind troubling the water. It looked like it was going to be a long wait and suddenly the PRO’s decision to sail five races on Saturday (leaving only three to be sailed on Sunday) seemed like a very bright plan indeed.
However, it was not long before a slight north easterly breeze began to rustle the sails of the boats on the shore providing some hope. Before long this slight breeze had turned into a proper 10 knots and the teams hit the water to battle it out for the title of Endeavour Champion.
Realistically Steve Tylecote (Firefly) had it all to lose after a fantastic performance on Saturday with three firsts, a second and an eighth. With one discard already in effect he was seven points ahead of his closest rival, and three times Endeavour Champion, Nick Craig (OK).
As the fleet started to arrive at the start-line, set just up the Roach, the breeze was up to a solid 15 knots, with the cloudy conditions making the weather surprisingly cold. With the wind coming round a little to the east the course was reset out of the Roach and on the Crouch itself. Again the tide was to be ebbing all day making starts difficult as boats were pushed over the line. Kim Allen, the PRO, kept discipline in the fleets well with only a couple of recalled starts throughout the course of the day.
The downwind legs proved to be tactically difficult with sailors having to choose between hugging the river bank, where there was less wind, and punching the tide a little more out towards the main channel where the breeze was stronger and more consistent. The two main protagonists, Tylecote and Craig, clearly both made a wrong decision on the first downwind, both rounding the leeward mark for the first time only a few places from the back of the fleet. Keith Escritt and Elaine Marsh(Vortex) were leading the charge in first position, but the man many people’s eyes were on was Roger Gilbert (Merlin Rocket) who was looking fast in fourth position. Gilbert continued to look good throughout the race eventually pulling up to second position by the finish. Tylecote made a solid attempt at a comeback finishing the race in tenth position while Craig struggled, finally crossing the line in 22nd. “We struggled today,” explained Craig. “We tried going left because we thought that would pay and it didn’t, then we went right as that looked good and that did not work out so that made life difficult.”
Race two saw a repeat of race one with Tylecote and Craig struggling, scoring a sixth and a 17th respectively, while Gilbert continued to reduce the gap adding another win to his scorecard. This left Gilbert within two points of Tylecote, with Craig realistically out of the running. However, due to the topsy turvy nature of the positions on the water this was not known by all sailors. “We did not really think about the points too much to be honest, we just tried to do our best out there in each race that came along,” explained Gilbert. Meanwhile Escritt who came away with a third in the penultimate race had moved into third overall, knocking Craig off the podium.
The wind had reduced to around ten knots for the final race and the tide was starting to slacken. Gilbert needed to beat Tylecote by three places to claim the title, while Craig needed to beat Escritt by six places to take third. It was all to play for. With the breeze slackening and shifting back to the North a little the course was moved back into the mouth of the Roach and the final race of the weekend got underway. The race proved decisive and the positions were more or less decided from the start. Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne made a bid for final race glory leading the field while Craig, Tylecote and Chris and John Gill (Europe) battled it out for second to fourth positions, with Gilbert struggling back in the pack.
Across the finish line for the last time it was Camm and Ballantyne who took victory but all eyes were on Tylecote as he cruised across the line to take overall victory in the Endeavour Trophy 2007. His jubilant cheers could be heard from a long way off and with fist raised he headed ashore to celebrate his victory. Meanwhile Craig crossed the line in fourth just behind the Gills and with Escritt in 11th reclaimed third position. Gilbert sailed a good race to finish sixth overall and ensure second position for the second year running.
“It is very emotional, we are really chuffed,” Tylecoat explained ashore. “It was unexpected to be honest. The racing very tight and we knew going into the last race it was going to be close with really tactical racing. We had a jump on the fleet after Sunday but with only one discard in an eight race series that did not count for much. We tried not to worry about the closest guys too much as everyone is so close in these boats that you can’t get locked into worrying about one person. We are just really pleased but I think to be honest it is still sinking in a bit.”
Another great Endeavour comes to a close with a new champion in the form of Steve Tylecoat and his crew Toby Lewis. Once again the support and management from the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, alongside the generous sponsorship of Holt, Topper and (new this year) Hyde Sails continues to turn this event around into the champion of champions event is should be and finally is.