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1957 North American Championship - Regatta Report


1957 North American Championshi
p - Newport Harbor, California, USA
Regatta Results

Report fromStarlights October 1957

Note: This report has been scanned in by Ed Sprague. For a collection of Worlds' reports plus photographs contact Ed Sprague ( ejspraguejr@mac.com ) to order his book "The San Diego Bay Star Fleet".

Lowell North and Jim Hill burst into prominence eight years ago when they confronted an astonished Star public with three firsts and a second in the 1949 World's Championship at Chicago. A disqualification from the remaining race of that series dashed their hopes for a Gold Star but not their determination. They have been winning major events ever since, culminating with second place in the 1956 World's. Now, with a new North Star, they have added a Silver Star to their laurels in convincing fashion, winning the 1957 North American Championship with three firsts, a second and a third at San Diego against 25 competitors.

North Star III, with a record of 15 firsts in the 18 races in which she had appeared prior to the big series, was admittedly the favorite, and came through with flying colors. No one ever really threatened North's series position. Toward the end of the week the interest centered in the struggle for second which remained extremely keen among the next three contenders. Bill Ficker's Nhycusa, Malin Burnham's Chatterbox and Don Edler's DK'n entered the last race effectively tied, so that whoever was to beat the other two would take runner-up position, or win the series if anything happened to North Star. But nothing did, North merely consolidating with a second. Ficker managed to bring Nhycusa in ahead of the other two, and Burnham finished next despite a defective drain plug which went out through the bottom of the boat in the middle of the race leaving a hole which had to be stuffed with rags.

Ficker, one of the younger aces of the U.S. west coast, has had increasing success in recent years (he won the Blue Star in 1954 in the old Stormy), and his Nhycusa, which stands for Newport Harbor Yacht Club, U.S.A., is a boat to be watched in the future. Burnham, 1945 Gold Star winner, needs no introduction to anyone.

The weather was predominantly light. In Monday's opener the wind started out healthily enough but died completely during the second round, leaving an old sloppy sea with not enough air to fill the sails. As Chick Rollins aptly put it, it was a bit disconcerting to lose steerageway and at the same time need the sprayboards. This of course shook up the order a bit but didn't seem to bother North, who won anyway. The local sailors were as perplexed as the outsiders: these conditions, they said, were most unusual. Next day it was also light, with sprinkles of rain - extraordinary occurrence - and this time the flukes were too much even for North Star III, which rounded the last weather mark eighth. But North played the downwind leg just right, avoiding a calm spot which trapped many others and finished third to Edler and Burnham in that order. That night at the cocktail party a perfect rainbow spanned San Diego, a sight which some Californians claimed never to have seen before - most unusual. But the rainbow presaged no good for the morrow.

All shore activities were ably supervised by a steering committee under the direction of Tim Parkman and Malin Burnham; and Bill Severance's race committee ran the races in flawless fashion. Hosts at the various parties were the Burnhams, the Parkmans, the Charles Rollins, the Edmund Baileys, the Lyons and the San Diego Yacht Club. Thanks also go to many other officials whose names are not available, not least among them the hardworking measurement committee and the boys who braved seasickness to man the marker boats.

Wednesday produced airs so light that the race failed to finish - very unusual, of course. (By this time the record had been played so often that the needle was wearing out.) It was a sore disappointment to President Paul Smart, who led in Melody all the way and missed the 3 ½ hour time limit by perhaps ten minutes.

The weather finally straightened itself out and behaved properly for the rest of the week, providing three reasonably steady breezes of perhaps six to ten knots for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Although North and Hill prefer more wind, they can handle the light stuff too as they showed by racking up two more firsts and a second for a 13 point margin of victory.