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1967 World Championship - Regatta Report


1967 World's Championshi
p - Skovshoved (Copenhagen), Denmark
Regatta Results
Report from the 1968 Star Class Log by Don Coleman

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".

Sixty-two experts from fifteen nations assembled at the Skovshoved Sejlklub yacht basin for the 1967 World's Championship. At the end of a week's competition they hailed as their new champion the same racing genius who had brought the series to Denmark from Kiel the year before, Paul Elvstrom.

Elvstrom defied Star tradition in 1966 by winning a very heavy weather World's with no rnan-mountain crewing: John Albrechtson is a middleweight. In 1967 he went further, relying perhaps on knowledge of the wind conditions likely to prevail in his home territory; his Danish crew Paul Mik-Meyer is definitely a lightweight. The races were not drifters, the wind varying from six knots to perhaps twenty, mostly from the southwest; but never were there the howlers of the previous year.

First Race
The opening race had a delayed start to wait for wind, getting away finally in a light breeze across a line so long that one could barely find the flag from the committee end. The fleet split about evenly and the pattern for the rest of the week developed on this very first leg: go inshore, early and often. Bill Parks and crew Robert Halperin, both Olympic medal holders went there, and Shrew approached the weather mark in the lead, only to fall into a hole at the very top of the leg.

Those holes in the wind were only one of the hazards of this racecourse where conditions are so fickle that even the locals find reliable predictions impossible.

"Inshore" meant the port tack on a breeze that was more or less paralleling the Denmark coast, blowing from south to north. Duplin favored the port tack even farther than Parks on that first beat to get around the windward mark first. Second was Squid, sailed by the Finnish Tallberg brothers, sixth in the 1966 World's. She finished third in this opening race, even as she had done the year before, but then hit the skids for the rest of the week and was never again among the leaders.

Tallberg led at the home mark after one round, closely followed by the Russian Olympic gold medalist Timir Pinegin, Dick Stearns, and Duplin. They all chose the port tack inshore - and this time it didn't work quite so well. Elvstrom, after a short hitch to starboard, found a beautiful header that allowed him almost to lay the mark on port, and he rounded it first by ten seconds with Tallberg next and Pinegin third. The Russian passed both the others on the run to take the race by inches. Fourth was Glider for her best showing of the week, and fifth Lowell North, who had accomplished the almost impossible feat of getting there from 27th at the first windward mark. The entire fleet finished within a span of ten minutes.

Second and Third Races
After a calmed-out second day when the fleet never even left the anchorage, a double header was sailed on the third day. Both races had southerly airs, light in the morning and gusting up to Force 3 but not much more in the afternoon. For both rounds of both races it paid to go inshore: get on the port tack as soon as you could, and stay on it as long as you dared.

The morning saw a perfect start with the whole line filled and no one recalled. At the first mark it looked like a great day for Sweden. Goran Tell led the pack in Blue Monk, from Stockholm, and his fellow countryman K. A. Rydqvist of Sandhamn was second. The Scandinavians had had a good summer and there were indications before the series that they would be hard to beat, especially John Albrechtson in his new Krangel. Why was Krangel never in the winning ranks, after a whirlwind season in which she had beaten many of the others, including even Elvstrorn, in major events? It is difficult to say. Possibly Albrechtson did not realize until too late the importance of going inshore. He frequently lost ground on offshore tacks.

Third at the first mark were the Schmidt brothers of Brazil, well known Snipe champions now in the Star Class. Joe Duplin, fourth, moved up to first at the home mark, with the Schmidts second and Tell third. To everyone's surprise, North was 16th and Elvstrorn 21st. North Star gained a dozen places and Scandale nearly as many on the second round, but the leaders stayed the same except for a swap between second and third.

The wind was up to 12-15 knots in the afternoon but the other occupational hazards remained: soft spots, unpredictable minor shifts, variable currents that no one seemed to know anything about, heavy kelp beds that constituted a real menace to navigation, and interference from steamers passing down the main channel that connects the Baltic Sea ports with the rest of the world. The local commercial traffic, however, behaved with admirable consideration for the racing boats. One freighter full of Volkswagens came to a full stop till the fleet went by. Other ferryboats often swerved aside to keep clear.

This start saw several boats recalled, among them Elvstrorn, who jibed around, reached at full speed under everyone's stern, and took off on the favored port tack, last, but not by very much. He was soon up with the leaders, and finished fourth. We quote from the report of the International Race Committee at this point: "Detlelf Kuke with Christian Koch of Berlin sailed a beautiful race, led at every mark, and appeared to be the winner: but it was reported by observers at the windward mark that the leach of his mainsail had brushed across the mark as he rounded. Three observers concurred, and the committee had to nullify an otherwise fine performance and deprive Pummel of her victory." The race went to 1966 North American Silver Star champion Don Trask of California, to move him into a tie with Elvstrom for third in the series score. Only North was ahead of them, and Pinegin, who won the Vanderveer Trophy for leading the series at this point.

Fourth Race
A blustery, rainy day had winds from the southwest at about 15 knots but still shifty. The current, doubtless because of the better breeze, was less noticeable. Because the inshore port tack had been paying off so well, everybody ignored the flag end and crowded the committee boat to form a bad jam at the start. But there were no pile-ups and only three boats recalled.
Tom Blackaller had a good start and led all the way in his new Good Grief, to prove that the glass boats are as fast as any in the world and sometimes faster. Good Grief had only five seconds on North Star at the end of round one, but lengthened out to a one minute lead at the finish.

Rainsqualls with thunder were occasionally relieved by fleeting sunshine, sending the wind velocity up and down between 10 and 20 knots. Crews climbed intermittently into hiking position and then inside again. North was probably away first but Elvstrom was right with him as they followed Blackaller inshore. At the end of the first round it was Blackaller, North, Elvstrom, Duplin, Parks, second at the weather mark, had dropped to seventh, Pinegin was 13th, Stearns 17th. At the end, with the rain now coming in a steady downpour, Parks had recovered to third and Pelle Petterson, strong in every race but the second, finished in fourth place.

When he congratulated the day's winner after the race, President Frank Gordon asked, "Well, how did you like that one?" Blackaller began to mumble about the starting line, the weather conditions, and half a dozen other things. Frank stopped him. "Look; you just won a World's Championship race by a good margin, against 62 of the finest skippers afloat. Now what was that you were saying?" Tom, a bit sheepishly: "I guess I liked it."

Fifth Race
The unexpected happened as the leaders faltered and Elvstrorn overcame a ten-point deficit to win the series- or as he himself modestly put it, "I was the only one who didn't lose it." He was quite right. He almost lost it on the second day with a 12th: but all the other leaders ran into even worse troubles at one time or another during the week.

The line favored the flag end more than yesterday to draw out the fleet and provide a better start. No boats were over, although one withdrew and another hit the stakeboat for a disqualification. Don Trask's Swingin' Star led the whole first round, and very nearly won the race. But Pelle Petterson sailed a better second weather leg, to lead the pack at the last mark by several lengths.

Heading for the finish with a safe lead, Petterson's Humbug suddenly found herself on a collision course, with a large freighter that steamed directly across the racecourse. Unable to cross the steamer's bow, Petterson and Westerdahl were obliged to luff, take down the whisker pole, and alter course to run around her stern. When they were able to square away again for the finish, Trask had come up alongside. Neck and neck the two boats rode waves in see-saw fashion, first one leading by inches, then the other, until at the finish Petterson got the gun by about four feet for a well deserved triumph and his first gold chevrons.

After Trask came Eckart Wagner, for his best showing, and then the champion in a solid fourth place. Duplin, ever a close contender, was fifth, and Ed Bernet, the Swiss light weather ace, chose this heaviest day of the week to turn in his best performance, a very creditable sixth. But where were North and Pinegin? North had rounded the first mark 30th, and, trying to repeat his miracle of the first day, could not quite succeed, picking up to 17th at the finish- not enough. Pinegin rounded 20th, and stayed there. When a reporter, after the race, asked North what had happened, Lowell refrained from kicking him off the end of the pier and only answered quietly, "We got a bad start and sailed a bad race." The word schlechten of the original German seems to express more of the disappointment that he must have felt at his very near miss. This is the second time in two years that North had been runner-up by three points to Paul Elvstrom.

The champion was made a Grand Knight of the Ancient Order of Tuborg at the final banquet, where 500 guests were entertained at the famous Tuborg Brewery in Copenhagen.