A sight we shall never see again. A large crew of professional yacht hands hoisting the great mainsail of ENDEAVOUR II before racing. [photo caption]
Hoisting the mainsail of the ENDEAVOUR II, 1936. 14 professionals are hauling in the main halyard, aided by a guest, and there were only part of her full crew of 19, which included a captain, mate and steward. Mr. Sopwith, the owner, talks with other guests to starboard and Mrs. Sopwith chats with John Scott-Hughes, then a noted yachting correspondent, on the counter. The blue hulled racer is gliding across Harwich harbour in morning sunlight, under staysail. The creamy cotton cavas of the mainsail reipples as it rises above the triangular sectioned boom, which has tracks and slides on its upper face to allow the foot of the mainsail to take up a carefully predicted curve when set. The wire spans and wood blocks of the mainsheet compliment the strong running and shifting backstays set up to starboard, ready to take the forces from the tall mast when the mainsail is hoisted and sheeted in.
The introduction of bermudian rig into the large class racing yachts during the 1920s led to a reduction in the crew needed to handle them, from the 37 carried in some big cutters of the 1890s and first few years of the twentieth century, to the crew of 22 needed for the smaller 23 metres of 1907-1914 and then to a total of 19 professionals in a 'J' class yacht such as ENDEAVOUR II, which carried a sail area, excluding spinnaker, totalling 7,550 square feet, compared with 13,028 square feet set by VALKYRIE III in 1895. [JL]
Plate.33 in SWW.
Used in The Sailor's Coast, page 69.
Published in East Anglian magazine Feb1956 under pseudonym Fieldfare.