Following a lengthy refit at New Zealand-based Yachting Developments, the historic J Class yacht Endeavour relaunched over the weekend. She retains much of her original classic character, along with some modern-day technological advances that will make her a better cruiser and racing competitor.
The 18-month project saw the 130-foot Endeavour gain a new sail plan and deck layout with the input of Dykstra & Partners. The Dutch naval-architecture firm has more than two decades’ experience with J Class yachts, including Endeavour. In fact, company principal Gerard Dijkstra’s first major J Class refit was Endeavour herself, completed in 1989. This time around, Endeavour gained a new carbon-fiber mast, from Southern Spars, with carbon-fiber standing rigging. She also had the engine, gensets, hydraulic and electrical systems, winches, electronics package, bow thruster, and air conditioning all replaced or overhauled. Because of the new deck layout and sail plan, the weather deck was removed and replaced. Furthermore, steel deck framing was moved to better bear the load of the new layout. Layout-wise inside, only the area forward of the mast was rearranged. John Munford and Adam Lay oversaw the design, with Yachting Developments’ in-house team crafting the furnishings.
All told, it was a lot of work that required a lot of careful planning due to Endeavour’s historic significance. If you’re unfamiliar with the backstory of Endeavour, it’s the stuff that soap operas are made of, though thankfully with a happy ending. She’s the third of the remaining original Js, built by Camper & Nicholson in Gosport, England. Her owner was Sir T.O.M. Sopwith, a British yachtsman who was passionate about racing and winning. In fact, he commissioned Endeavour to compete in the 1934 America’s Cup race. While Endeavour prevailed in races leading up to the Cup, she ultimately did not get the Cup itself. Endeavour ceased racing in 1938 due to World War II and was nearly scrapped nine years later, but was saved literally hours before crushing was to begin. Tragedy befell her in the 1970s and 1980s in the forms of two sinkings (one each decade). Despite being in horrible shape, Endeavour was salvaged in 1984 by famed American yachtswoman Elizabeth Meyer and underwent a five-year restoration in England and Holland. It was quite a moment when, in June 1989, Endeavour finally sailed again after 52 long years. Since that time she has competed in several major races, with some including other J Class yachts.
Once sea trials are complete, Endeavour will remain in the Auckland area through early next year. Come February, Endeavour will head to England, to compete in the various J Class Regattas in June. The J Class Association anticipates having at least three, and perhaps even five, J Class yachts competing against one another in these regattas.