DRISCOLL WINS GOLD STAR SERIES by Paul Maynard
From the results obtained in the Skipper Series last year and this it seems that the methods employed in these two events come nearer to establishing a champion by achievement than any other method yet devised for yacht racing.
Entrants picked from active fleets as a result of eliminations sail in boats provided by the sponsoring fleet so that the competitors need bring only sails. For each of the five races each contestant draws a different boat each day.
No skipper may sail his own boat if it happens to be among those used. The drawings are made the morning of each race day; thus giving contestants a chance to make desired minor adjustments.
There is no question but that some of the boats were faster than others and some were better equipped and maintained than others. Nevertheless the boat that was first in the opener was 17th in the third race under like conditions and the Star that finished 14th in the first race was first in the third contest. The eventual series winner had one of the six fastest boats in four of the five races but it is equally true that he could only sail one of them at a time and the other five were always in there against him. So much for the "luck of the draw."
The Chicago Yacht Club sponsored this 23rd World Championship with the cooperation of the Sheridan Shore, Chicago Corinthian, Columbia and Jackson Park Yacht Clubs and the Southern Lake Michigan and Wilmette Harbor Fleets.
Fine weather prevailed, although starts were frequently delayed an hour or more due to wind shifts or breakdowns. Lake Michigan provided long swells interrupted by a small cross chop and the breeze often shifted several points in a few seconds with no variation in velocity, reshuffling the fleet. Courses for the first, third and fifth races were triangles, twice around, with weather starts. The second and fourth contests were windward and leeward affairs, thrice and twice around respectively. For the first four days the wind was fairly light but for the finale great seas rolled in as a result of a 15?20 mile breeze.
By the end of the second race it was evident that Gerald Driscoll and Malin Burnham was the team to beat. They had won the first two races handily and their competition was scattered, the nearest being Bob Lippincott and Ed Shivelhood of West Jersey, five points back, with a third and a fourth.
Coming up for the third race interest centered about the boat drawing, for both leaders had drawn fast boats to then. Lippincott's luck held and he drew a smart craft while Driscoll drew one, which had not done well at all. In a brisk sou'easter Lippincott quickly stepped out in front and stayed there. Harold Halsted of Moriches and Bill Picken of Great South Bay with second and third respectively drew into a contending position. After wallowing in the backwash of the fleet for most of the race Driscoll sailed brilliantly to take sixth. Points then stood: Driscoll and Lippincott 52, Halsted 43, Williams of Southern Lake Michigan 41, Hale of Cape Ann 39, Picken 36.
Drawing luck was reversed for the fourth race with Driscoll picking a fast one and Lippincott a slow one, judging from performances up to that time. In the light breeze Driscoll and Lippincott were nervous, beat the gun and were recalled. Bill Picken stepped out in front and until the last mark before the finish looked like an easy winner. Driscoll finally passed the rest of the fleet after a poor start but was at least two minutes behind Picken at the leeward mark. However he crept up like approaching doom and finally passed him to win the race and to all intents and purposes, the series. Point standings: Driscoll 71, Lippincott, 63, Williams 57, Halsted 56, Hale 56, and Picken 54.
To win the Gold Star Driscoll had only to finish eighth or better in the finale. During Friday night a real gale blew up and by race time great seas were rolling but the wind had dropped to 18 knots. Several contestants decided to stay ashore rather than risk damage to borrowed boats. The I.R.C. started the race inside the harbor breakwater to save contestants the ordeal of sailing an hour or so in the heavy seas before the actual start.
Again Bill Picken stepped out in front in the heavy going and seemed to be a sure winner but Williams caught him this time and he had to be content again with second. By this victory Williams won third place in the series. Picken eased past Halsted to win fourth place while Lippincott, finishing third, was series runner-up.
Driscoll, sailing easily, content to finish without mishap, wound up in sixth place for his first Gold Star, The last race was a real test of skippers and boats. The entire contest was sailed without mishap to ship or crew. Gerald Driscoll is only nineteen but already has seen service in the Merchant Marine and is now a Naval Academy appointee. He sailed every boat handed him with consistent skill. Like a true Star sailor he took his victory with great modesty?in fact, he proved to be a champion in every respect. His crew, Malin Burnham, is only sixteen but is already a veteran of World Championship racing as he crewed for Driscoll's brother Harlan in the series at Bay Shore last year.
The I.R.C. consisted of Rear Commodore Charles H. Pajeau, Chairman, Harry Nye, Robert K. Cameron, Emerson E. Raymond and Ralph B. Oesting. Course Officials were John Ruzich and Howard Black. Mark Officials were Dr. F. R. Black, M. W. Van Arsdale, R. J. Stearns and Malcolm M. Whitfield. Without the zealous and untiring assistance of these officials the series would not have been possible.
The goat of the series and the best sport, as agreed by all, was Arthur Young of Gull Lake who finished but one race. The only woman among the competition was able and comely Patty Lawrence who crews for her husband. The entertainment was continuous and delightful. It speaks well for the fortitude of Star sailors that they could sail all day and still keep up with Chicago hospitality.
The Stars which proved to be the fastest were: Triton, High C (Harry Nye's old Gale), Step 'N' Fetchit, Dolphin and Gusty. Bob Driscoll drew four of them; Driscoll three. The sails used by Jerry Driscoll were made by Watt on the Pacific Coast, the same sail maker that made the sail Etchells used to win the Atlantic Coast Championship. Harry Nye was the busiest man on the Committee Boat. That's why the courses were universally good, with no merry go-rounds.
Arthur Deacon, 1943 Champion, didn't compete in the series because the Navy couldn't spare him. He showed up though to present the cup to the new Champion. Bob and Helen Cameron were outstanding in organizing and running the series and the festivities. Howard Black kept the boats running by sheer strength. The races were over just in the nick of time for the day after dawned with a storm big enough to wreck a schooner right in the harbor.