The last of the war-time Skipper Series World's Championships was held, in late August of 1945, on Long Island Sound off Stamford, Conn., U. S. A. It was won by Malin Burnham, youthful skipper from San Diego Bay, with Lowell North as crew. In only one race did Burnham finish below second place. His performance, though less spectacular, was even more consistent than that of his Fleetmate Gerry Driscoll, for whom he crewed, when the former won the 1944 Gold Star at Chicago.
A different skipper won every race and the series broke all former wartime records with 21 entries. Long Island Sound, true to its reputation produced mostly light fluky airs, which caused innumerable postponements throughout the week. Toward late afternoon a gentle morning breeze would spring up and it was usually a question of whether it would last long enough for the yachts to finish within the time limit and before nightfall. In spite of the light going, many of the boats, whose equipment had not been replaced for four years, suffered minor casualties. Until the last day these breakdowns were not serious enough to cause any withdrawals, but each evening at least half a dozen boats had to be rushed to the shipyard for repairs in order to have enough available for the drawing the following morning. It was fortunate that the only good breeze of the week came on the final day or there would not have been enough boats available to finish the 1945 Series.
Carlos de Cardenas, who has sailed in more World's Championships then any other skipper, came up from nowhere on the last round to win the first race by an easy margin as the sun was sinking in the West. Malin Burnham crossed the line ahead of Harold Halsted to take second.
In a light, but steady Southwester, the Committee, on the second day, was able to give the contestants their only windward and leeward course of the Series. This time it was Jim Cowie, Champion of 1940, who finished first, trailed by Ted Clark and Monroe Hale. Burnham only beat five boats in this race and his chances of winning at that point were considered nil. It is interesting to note that an entire new group were in the money. As a matter of fact there probably never has been a Series in which so many different skippers won daily prizes.
The third race was not started until quite late in the afternoon, after innumerable postponements. On two occasions the wind went flat between the preparatory and the start. Finally, in desperation the Committee gave a reaching start against a head tide and some of the contestants had actually lost ground fifteen minutes after the start. It looked for awhile as if it might be a merry?go?round, but the wind shifted making the last leg a beat. Skip Etchells and wife upheld the traditions of the oldest of the Star Fleets by winning this race in typical Sound weather with Burnham second and Bud Jahncke third. Bud, who was undergoing treatment in the Naval Hospital, was able to obtain a week's leave to represent New Orleans.
Thursday was rest day. In spite of it, the Committee suggested that because of the fickle weather the fourth race be sailed, but the majority of the contestants did not agree. On Friday, rain and a half gale from the East, which had been blowing all night, caused a second day of rest. A few of the heavy weather skippers grumbled, as they hung around the Yacht Club bar all day, hoping for the gale to moderate, but even they had to admit that the condition of the boats was such that it would have been unwise to send them out in those seas.
A double header was scheduled on Saturday, with the first race to start at 10 A.M. After sailing for neatly two hours, the leader had not even reached the first mark and the race was called off. Boats for the second race were drawn for aboard the Committee Boat, from which beer and sandwiches were served and the exchange of boats was made. The hours slipped by and still there was not a breath of wind. At quarter before five a race was finally started. The sun was dipping behind the horizon when they finished the first round and to complete the race within the time limit seemed impossible. To make it worse the last leg was a beat and a starless night had closed down before Bert Williams, leading, hauled on the wind. It was pitch black. The Committee Boat's searchlight played upon the stake boat, while the Coast Guard, tied alongside, rotated their searchlight in an effort to pick up approaching Stars. The head wind kept shifting and it looked as if, after spending fourteen hours in their boats, no one would be able to finish. With less than two minutes to go, however, Bert Williams slid across the line winning the first night race in World's Championship history. Burnham, as usual, was second. Then Cebern Lee just nosed out Etchells for third, giving Seneca Lake its first Gold award. Long into the night, with a failing wind, the Committee Boat stood by as like ghosts one Star after another drifted across the line.
This was to have been the night of the final banquet, but it was nearly midnight before the racing crews took their places at the table. Our hosts, the Stamford Yacht Club, are to be complimented on the manner in which they conducted the evening's entertainment under such trying conditions. Daily prizes for the first four races were presented.
The final race was held on Sunday morning in a stiff Northwester. A few of the skippers, whose leave had expired, went home and some went A.W.O.L. White caps dotted the Sound. Ted Clark and Bert Williams broke down before they reached the weather mark. Bud Jahncke lost a good five minutes before he could make repairs and start. Lippincott withdrew fearing that he could not keep the mast in his boat. Harold Halsted went overboard and was in the water fifteen minutes before he was picked up by the Coast Guard. Cardenas, who was out in the lead, headed for the wrong mark and many others, followed him by mistake, which gave Burnham his chance. Cowie also broke down, but managed to make repairs. Burnham won the race overcoming Cowie's four?point lead with Bill Picken second (at last) and Cardenas third? and so ended the 1945 Series.
Under the auspices of the Central Long Island Sound Fleet, the Series was jointly sponsored by the Noroton and Stamford Yacht Clubs, the latter being headquarters. The Race Committee consisted of: G. W. Elder, Chairman, Robert K. Cameron, Joseph C. Smyth, Joseph Lawrence and Malcolm Pitt.
When the Annual Meeting
concluded, Star members were entertained at a cocktail party at headquarters
presided over by Commodore Charles Betts. On the following evenings there
were a buffet supper party at the home of Johnny White, a dinner dance
given by the Noroton Yacht Club at Tokeneke, a cocktail party at the home
of Commodore William Richardson, a dinner dance at the Noroton Yacht Club
and the final banquet.