Endeavour, a 130-foot J Class sloop, was
commissioned by Sir T.O.M. Sopwith and built by
Camper & Nicholson at Gosport England to challenge
for the America's Cup in 1934. Having prepared his
campaign in Shamrock V, Sopwith was keen to ensure
that this yacht was the most advanced design
possible. With his experience designing aircraft
Sopwith applied aviation technology to
rig and winches and spared nothing to make her the
finest vessel of her day. From launching in 1934
she continued her preparation by competing against
Shamrock V (then owned by Sir Richard Fairey) and
the newly launched Velsheda (owned by W.L
Stephenson). She swept through the British racing
fleet and into the hearts of yachtsmen the world
around, winning many races in her first season. Like
many before her, Endeavour did not win the Cup but
she came closer to doing so than any other
Endeavour pioneered the development of the
Quadrilateral Genoa, a two clewed headsail offering
immense sail area and power, and still used on J
Class yachts racing today. She also had a larger and
better designed spinnaker but Sopwith was let down
by poor crewing. Just prior to departure for the
USA, his professional crew went on strike for more
money and Sopwith was forced to round up keen
amateur sailors, who had the enthusiasm but not the
experience. Afterwards, she returned to England to
dominate the British racing scene until 1938 when
she was laid up prior to the war.
Over the next 46 years, Endeavour passed through
many hands, her fate often hanging by a thread.
Among other indignities, she was sold to a scrap
merchant in 1947 only to be saved by another buyer
hours before her demolition was due to begin. In the
seventies, she sank in the Medina River in Cowes.
Again at the eleventh hour, she was bought for ten
pounds sterling by two carpenters who patched the
holes in her hull with plastic bags and got her
afloat again. In the early eighties, Endeavour sat
in an abandoned seaplane base in southern England.
She was a complete wreck, a rusting and forlorn hulk
with no keel, rudder, ballast or interior.
In 1984 American yachtswoman Elizabeth Meyer bought
Endeavour and undertook a five year rebuild. Since
the hull was too fragile to be moved and was miles
away from any boatyard, Meyer had a building
constructed over the boat and hired welders to
restore the hull. Endeavour's missing keel and
ballast were rebuilt, the steel frames and hull
plating repaired and replaced where necessary, and a
new rudder fabricated. The newly seaworthy hull was
launched and towed to Holland where it was put on a
barge and transported to the Royal Huisman Shipyard.
There, the mast, boom and rigging were designed and
built, the engine, generator and mechanical systems
installed and the interior joinery completed. All
told, an inconceivable amount of work, love and
agony went into achieving Endeavour's present level
of perfection. Endeavour sailed again, on June 22,
1989, for the first time in 52 years.
Between 1989 and 1999 Endeavour cruised extensively
and competed in numerous races, creating a wonderful
spectacle In April 1999, history repeated itself
when she was joined by Shamrock V and Velsheda to
compete in the Antigua Classics Regatta, bringing in
a new era of J Class sailing a sight not seen in
over 60 years.
American, L. Dennis Kozlowski stated in 2000 "No one
truly owns Endeavour, she's a part of yachting
History, I'm delighted to be the current caretaker."
Endeavour, Velsheda and Shamrock raced together at
the J Class Regatta for the first time in UK waters
after more than 65 years. Endeavour won both
regattas after close racing between the yachts.
click here to read
the full history about America's Cup Racing.