The blue hulled ENDEAVOUR, K4, and the green hulled ASTRA, K2, prepare for the start at Southend on Sea regatta in 1934. Both have a single reef in the mainsail as the fresh wind will harden when they race seawards into the more open waters of the estuary of the Thames. An excursion paddle steamer lies alongside the pier end embarking trippers for a day's outing, enhanced by the excitement of the big class and the 12 Metre classes racing from Southend, then an annual visit as part of the larger racing yacht programme around the coast to the many regattas and other fixtures from Harwich in the east to Fowey in the west. Until the 1920s the racing fleet extended their racing on to the west coast as far as the Clyde and taking in Irish and Welsh venues.
The steel hulled ENDEAVOUR, owned by Thomas Sopwith, was designed and built by Camper and Nicholson Ltd. at Gosport that year and had a professional crew of 21 drawn from Colne villages, from the Solent area and the west country, under Captain Williams from Hamble, Hampshire. She was to challenge for the Amerca's Cup that September against the RAINBOW and despite dissatisfaction amongst some of her crew which led to their replacement at short notice by amateurs, the ENDEAVOUR came close to winning the disputed cup and was thought by many, including her owner and crew, to have the moral victory in a contest marred by dispute over the handling of her rival RAINBOW.
The ENDEAVOUR was the third British yacth built to the J Class rating rule, adopted by Britain in 1929 to bring equality to competition between British and American large racers. The ASTRA was built under the older International Yacht Racing Union rules and was smaller, rating at 23.2 Metres.
Here the ENDEAVOUR is setting a double-clewed jib, a sail she was supposed not to use until she raced the RAINBOW at Newport, Rhode Island. But enthusiasm of the owner and his friends overcame caution and when she arrived in America her rival had hastily made a similar sail and advantage was lost. [JL]
ENDEAVOUR was built Camper & Nicholsons, Gosport, 1934, for T.O.M. Sopwith, C.B.E. Official No. 162801. "J" Class sail number K4. [Lloyds Yacht Register 1935]
Plate.39 in SWW.
This image is part of the Mersea Island Museum Collection.