Evaluating the Quadrilateral Jib in 1936; Endeavour I and Endeavour II sparring off the Needles signed 'J. Stephen Dews' (lower left) oil on canvas 61 x 91.5cm (24 x 36in).
After cutting his teeth on Shamrock V, the last of Sir Thomas Lipton's boats bought after Lipton's death in 1931, Mr T.O.M. "Tommy" Sopwith then built two successive yachts named Endeavour with which to mount his own challenges for the elusive America's Cup. Both were J-class boats designed by Charles Nicholson and each was built in Camper & Nicholson's yard at Gosport. The first Endeavour, displacing 143 tons and measuring 129½ feet in length with a 22 foot beam, carried 7,560 square feet of sail and was considered the best J-class boat of her day. During the America's Cup series in September 1934, Endeavour was not only skippered by Sopwith himself but she also featured a double-clewed jib designed by her owner. Defeated by the defender Rainbow by only the narrowest of margins, Endeavour returned home to rightful acclaim and thereafter enjoyed a successful racing career in home waters. Still racing competitively, Endeavour is one of the only three surviving J-class yachts and featured prominently in Dews' portrayal of the 1999 Antigua Classic Week Regatta sold in these rooms on 14th September 2004 (lot 115).
Endeavour II, like her predecessor, was designed and built at Camper & Nicholson's Gosport yard for "Tommy" Sopwith's second America's Cup challenge in 1937, the last before the Second World War. Ordered in the autumn of 1935 and completed the following spring, she displaced 163 tons, measured 136 feet in length with a 21½ foot beam and carried 7,543 square feet of sail, fractionally less than her earlier namesake. In the event, as 1936 was a presidential election year, it was decided that an America's Cup series would be inappropriate and thus the contest was postponed until 1937. This gave Sopwith ample time and opportunity to 'fine tune' his new boat clearly the inspiration for the work offered here even though, sadly, the U.S. defender Ranger proved superior at the following year's races and she retained the trophy.