Merlin Rocket team win 2015 Endeavour 11 Oct 2015
Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis representing the Merlin Rocket class are the winners of the 2015 Endeavour Championship after winning all eight races. This is the first time in the history of the 55-year event that anyone has managed to achieve such an outstanding result.
The super-fast duo annihilated the rest of the 23-boat Endeavour fleet in the fresh conditions today to add another four wins to their already impressive run of four wins on Saturday.
The pair sailed faultlessly and managed to build up extraordinary speed both upwind and down on the windward/leeward courses and never once wobbled on the ‘corners’ in the testing conditions that reached 20 kts at times.
Even after mediocre starts on more than one occasion, Saxton and Lewis were always first round the top mark. Benefiting from clear air, exceptional teamwork, and supersonic boat speed, they consistently extended their lead often finishing well over a minute ahead of the next boat.
Consequently they were never seriously challenged today, even by the likes of six-time Endeavour Trophy champion, Nick Craig and crewman Tom Pygall who had to settle for second overall, and Saxton’s twin brother – Tim Saxton and Fiona Hampshire – who finished third.
Ben Saxton (25), who is currently campaigning a Nacra 17 for the Rio Olympic Games, was naturally delighted with his win. Commenting as he stepped ashore this afternoon he said: “The event was awesome and we are delighted to have won.
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We sailed clever and fast which is a pretty good combination and we didn’t really have a weakness. I think if I had a piece of advice for future Endeavour competitors it would be to get a good crew that hikes like a lunatic – like Toby, and make time for some really good practice beforehand.”
Five-time Endeavour winner Lewis (34) who also makes history by becoming the Champion of Champions’ crew for the most wins, added (in a typically modest fashion): “Ben was very good at spotting the breeze downwind plus he is quite gutsy and will hit a corner with confidence. Because my aim is to always win, I just focus on the job.
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Going into today’s racing Tim Saxton, and Fiona Hampshire representing the RS800 class, were in second overall to Tim’s brother Ben but just one point behind Craig. This meant the race for second place overall was always going to be exciting.
In the building breeze Craig was in his element and, although he and Pygall were unable to match the speed of the leaders, they did managed to snatch second place overall with an impressive three seconds and a third in today’s final four races.
Craig commented: “We just couldn’t catch the boy. At least we managed to beat one Saxton in the end. There was no doubt about it; we were just a lot slower downwind. We were about 16 kilos heavier and even in the breeze we were still a bit marginal downwind so, for us it was game over really.”
Chatting about the event and why he is so passionate about taking part, Craig added: “Eight races in two days is more than you get in some championship weeks, plus the shore side is good, food is good, so the whole thing from start to finish is fantastic.”
Stuart Hudson and Hamish Walker representing the Firefly class also had some top results over the weekend including a third and fourth so were able to retain fourth place overall from Hornet national champion, Rob Larke crewed by Sally Wakefield who took fifth place.
With all races complete and some of the best conditions seen at an Endeavour Championship for many years, Edwin Buckley – event director and race officer commented: “Although the perfect conditions with winds that averaged between 15-18kts helped, it was, as always, the highly qualified group of professionals that I am privileged to work with, who help to make the event the success it is today.”
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