Nowadays, Stars in Rio de Janeiro waters are a flamboyant glamorous class, but it was not always so. The class owes its cradle to two characters: Joao Jose Bracony, known by his friends as JJ and the Emperor of Japan.
In the thirties and early forties Rio yacht sailing was concentrated in the Anglo-German colony at the west side of the bay. With the war, they started to fight each other and sport sailing vanished. There were only two Stars existing, one with a small cabin and the other, though within original plans, was too heavy due to the use of improper Brazilian timber.
Following Japan striking Pearl Harbor, Brazil joined the allies and our fuel tanks went dry. With a twenty by four nautical miles sheltered waters bay, yachts had to sail or row. Since there was an official Star plan existent, a one off boat was built and named Enif. Now we had three Stars but were far from a class. So, there was the decision of popularize sailing activity and the Star boat was the chosen one.
This is the moment that JJ takes upon him the challenge of the project. We had nothing and had to start from scratch. Inaugurated as Captain of our maintenance workshop, he had it transformed into a wooden boat factory. Boats had to be stiff enough to allow racing, totally compatible with ISCYRA and cheap enough to be sold in installments. It was the pursue of a dream, not profit. He had to imagine, project, sample try and devise a Ford production line way of life. He produced templates, tried Brazilian timber well-matched, and figured how to bend and glue planking in them. Powered hand tools were still to be invented. Hardware was a problem in itself. Most mast standing rigging were spliced and had the loop sledded into position. Since Stars mainsail slides in grooves, fittings had to be special. There was no place to buy them. So, JJ had to build a special metal workshop to develop, manufacture and appropriately supply production.
Rules are to be complied no matter how silly they might be. At the time Stars had floor boards, no self floating device, a row, anchor and appropriate length of rope, bucket and a sponge to keep them dry. Bailers came by many years later. Several Star owners were crewed by their wives. Hauling in a Star jib is not a light-hearted job. We were then still figuring if a crew person should be agile and light to bail and dry without disturbing balance or should be a heavy rhino stile to keep the boat upright. So, JJ devised a small, light and not jamming winch for the job. Excepting sails, boats were delivered ready to race to the new owners. This research and trial and error taught JJ into an outstanding helmsman.
Star seed sprouted and when the war blew itself away, there were forty three Stars sailing. Then, the industry came to life and it was pointless to go on with our production. One of these wooden Stars was present in Havana – Cuba for the world championship of 1946. She was named Toro and graded 22nd.
In 1948, JJ became an Olympic athlete by leading the Brazilian Star team in the London’s games. He was then twenty nine years old. From being airline captain to coffee planter JJ could be known as a jack of a thousand trades. In his lifetime, three times he knew richness and bankruptcy.
With the Olympic Games coming to Rio de Janeiro in this 2016, a torch was lit in Athens and brought in tour around Brazil. Known Brazilian athletes with special reference to Olympic ones are invited to carry the torch, so, JJ gathering whatever stamina was left in him, performed his penultimate mission by carrying the torch in the town of Vila Velha in the Espirito Santo (Holy Ghost) State. A few days later, on July 7th, as old sailors do, JJ faded away. He was then ninety seven years old.
Goodbye dear racing foe. Please do not forget your last mission, which is to whisper at the Lord’s ear: “Keep Stars Olympic and alive”.
Video by El Globo
On May 17, in Old Town, Rio De Janeiro, John Joseph Bracony carried the Olympic torch in the garden of his building, due to his advanced age and health problems.
He is 97 years old and sailed in London 1948 in the Star class.
Here we can see how relevant the Star class is along the history and still very active because of YOU.
From Wikipedia:Joao Jose Bracony sailed with Carlos Melo Bittencourt Filho on Buscape II and finished 14th.
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