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1970 World Championship - Regatta Report

1970 World's Championshi
p - Marstrand, Sweden
Regatta Results
Report from the 1971 Star Class Log by William E. Buchan

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".

Editors note: Last year we had a World's report from a first-timer at the series. This year we are privileged at the other end of the spectrum with this account by the champion, Bill Buchan, who has been in the winning column for years and who earned another gold star in 1961. In this matter-of fact report Bill is of course too modest to say anything about his own superlative performance; but he conveys much of the excitement and variety of a well run World's Championship sailed in a unique environment.

The World's Championship of 1970 began for me in the fourth race of the 1969 series as we were plodding along in 40th place watching our chances for winning the series go straight down the drain. I was determined then that if we got to the 1970 series with any boat speed at all, I certainly wouldn't take any such gamble as we had taken in that race.

Karen and I arrived in Marstrand one week ahead of the series; I had several small changes to make in the way the boat was set up. One of these changes was mounting the jib winch behind the vang track so that the vang could be left hooked up all the time.
This was very handy, especially in the windy conditions we were to experience in a couple of the races during the week to follow. After three days of running back and forth on the ferry between our hotel on the Island of Marstrand and the parking lot where the boat was kept, we were ready to go sailing.

When we first arrived in Marstrand we noticed that the boats had a hard time leaving the harbor mouth. The reason as we found out later was that those Scandinavian blondes that you have heard so much about love to sun bathe on the rocks near the water. We managed to get out into the open water, however, and had some very nice sails under conditions which misled us into thinking that this was going to be a light weather series in smooth water. In fact we often had trouble making headway against the current.

First Race
Good wind about 18 to 22 knots. Course "0". We went to the left side of the course with Don Trask and George Bruder. I think it was the right way to go except that we overstood badly and rounded about 15th. The first boat around was Ding Schoonmaker with Dick Stearns second. We pulled out all the stops on the two reaches and with the help of a couple of broken masts by Lowell North and Pelle Petterson we rounded the end of the first lap about 8th. On the second beat we moved up to 5th. It was on this beat that Tom Blackaller's spreader collapsed causing his mast to break. This happened just as I was watching him through the window to see if we were going to clear him, as he was on starboard tack and ourselves on port right at the weather mark. On the run we moved past Vladimir Vasiljev to round in fourth place. One the third beat we realized that our intermediate upper on the port side had either stretched or wasn't right to begin with because the mast looked awful whenever we trimmed the jib in hard. We had to ease up considerably on that tack and partly as a result of that, and also because we were getting darned tired, we were passed by Vasiljev and also by Bruder who really came on fast towards the end. At the finish Schoonmaker was first with Stig Wennerstrom second. They were both so far ahead of us all day that we never really saw them. It looked to Carl and me that if the conditions stayed as they were in this race, both Ding and Stig as well as Bruder would be awfully hard to beat.

Second Race
All night before the second race the wind blew like crazy. I couldn't get a wink of sleep thinking about having to face another day like the first. Especially when everyone kept saying that it really wasn't blowing very hard, but that it probably would be by the second day. It still looked like a lot of wind right to within a half hour of the start and then it died right out to perhaps 8-10 knots but with plenty of left over chop. Our strategy, determined before the series, was to start somewhere near the middle of the line, assuming the lines were square of course, then make a couple of tacks up the center until we could get some feeling for what side of the course would be favored. Luckily for us in this race we were forced over to the left hand side by a couple of starboard tack boats just when we were settled down to go out to the right side. No sooner had we tacked over to starboard than we saw the boats ahead on that side getting a tremendous lift so we carried on until we got their slant then tacked over to port. This lift gave us the lead over all the boats that had gone out on the right hand side earlier, with only 3 or 4 boats still above us. I could pick out Pelle Petterson and John Albrechtson in the group. No sooner had most of the boats that had gone out to the right taken their lickings by going behind us to get our slant, than the wind swung back to the right. We now had the boats that were above us as well as an increase in our lead over the others. We rounded first with Pelle second. On the second beat North and Blackaller seemed to close quite a bit on us. However, we still rounded first and hung on down wind and the third time up, although by this time the fleet was getting pretty well strung out. Ding was sixth so we moved up into first by one point. Particularly on the last time upwind we seemed to have good boat speed, which was very encouraging to us; although by that time Lowell and Tom were having a private tacking duel so it was hard to tell for sure how we were going.

Third Race
The wind was with us again for this one. Although the waves were perhaps smaller than in the first race they were also shorter across so it seemed as if we pounded more, and the wind blew at least as hard if not more. In the first race we had our jib leads outboard (11°) with our traveler eased perhaps 8" to 12" and it looked to Carl and me as though the boats that were beating us had both their travelers in the center and their jib leads inboard (7° to 8°); so we naturally thought that all we had to do was copy them and we would go as well. The thing we learned was not to copy anyone else, especially if you haven't been doing that badly to begin with. We just didn't seem to have any boat speed, but for some reason instead of going back to what had worked for us earlier we just kept plugging along. Tom Blackaller came screaming in first to the weather mark leading a pack of boats that must have gone quite a way out on the port tack after the start. Ding Schoonmaker was 2nd and we were about 15th. On the reaches we might have moved up a place or two. All I can remember was catching a couple of big waves and planing like crazy. It is some experience to be going so fast that it almost takes your breath away and look behind and see someone catching up to you.

On the second beat we might have gained a couple more boats but we were still getting hammered by the boats that were going all the way out to the right hand corner, or at least so it looked to us. The run was another exciting leg, as the wind had switched around so that it became a broad reach, just far aft enough so that we could carry whisker poles. As of this time we were fighting to get into the top 10, while Tom Blackaller, Ding Schoonmaker and Pelle Petterson were having a whale of a battle for the first three places, with the finish in that order. George Bruder was a close fourth. Don Trask made an excellent recovery moving up from 13th at the first mark to finish fifth, obviously enjoying the heavy going. I felt that we had a chance to beat Barton Beek out of sixth place in the race, but all of a sudden Stig came charging up on us so fast that we had to stay on top of him until we were sure it was safe to tack for the line, leaving him above the layline. Barton was able to go for the favored end of the line and beat us very neatly.

We had a wonderful mid-week trophy presentation party at the Carlsten Fortress, featuring barbecued lamb and aqua-vit by candle light, with dancing afterward and on into the morning. Ding Schoonmaker won the Vanderveer Trophy. We were second, 4 points back and Stig Wennerstrom and George Bruder were tied for third another 5 points behind so it was still anybody's series, especially among these four at this stage.

Fourth Race
After a two-day delay because of rest day and the cancelled race of the following day, we settled down for a double header, which would wind up the week.

Tom Blackaller gave us two pieces of advice without which we never would have won the series. One was to put on a set of upper backstays and leave them on; these undoubtedly saved our rig during the heavy races. In fact we probably wouldn't have even made it to the starting line on the first day without them. The other was to use the flatter of our two jibs all the time, which we also did. Our main concern before the series was that we seemed to lack pointing ability at home early in the year. During the series, however, probably due to the flatter jib this wasn't a problem, although we still relied on speed rather than pointing to get us where we wanted when the chips were down. Even though the fourth race looked as though it would be light we stayed with the flat jib, and then when the wind came in to perhaps 10 knots we knew we had done the right thing.

Our tactics perhaps were open to question when we went out on port tack even though Ding went the other way on the first leg. One reason of course was that we had to make up 4 points; but the other was that both Wennerstrom and Bruder also were going in our direction and they naturally gave us quite a bit of concern. Another reason was that North was going out, and I figured that if it's good enough for Lowell it is good enough for me. The wind was blowing more or less off shore and as a result the water was the smoothest of the week. Even though we did well on port, the first boat to the mark was Budnikov, who went all the way the other way, towards shore; we were second and George Bruder was either third or fourth, with Albrechtson in the other spot. We didn't count the boats but it looked to us as though Ding was at least tenth at this point.

For this race and the fifth we sailed course "1" which meant that there were only two beats. On the second upwind leg we passed Budnikov and stayed on top of Bruder since he was the closest threat to us in the series at that time. As we neared the weather mark it looked as though John Albrechtson was a mile ahead of us by going inshore, but at just the right time the wind shifted back our way and we managed to just beat him around. Bruder hit the weather mark not once but twice so needless to say in the process of circling the mark a few times he dropped back quite a bit, to eighth place in fact. By winning this race and with Ding finishing in ninth place we had a 4-point lead going into the last race and by this time Stig and Bruder were respectively 12 and 13 points behind. We actually miscalculated and thought we had a 5-point lead, so it was a good thing we didn't have too close a call in the last race.

Fifth Race
In this race the wind was a little stronger than for the fourth, perhaps 12-15 knots by the finish. We made a conservative start (I call them conservative even though they are the best I can do), near the weather end of the line, probably the farthest we strayed from the middle of the line all week. Schoonmaker, North and Blackaller all had very good starts quite close to the weather end.
Even though we were about two rows behind the line we had a big hole above us to tack through and clear our wind, which we did. After a couple more maneuvers to get ourselves clear we squared away on a long starboard tack for shore about 100 yards to weather of Lowell and quite a good distance behind; Ding was about midway between us and it didn't appear that there were many boats in between. Our main concern was that there would be a big lift paralleling the shore on port tack which would have put Ding a long way ahead of us. Fortunately that didn't happen. In fact the only boat that clearly had us was Lowell, with a group of six or seven boats, Ding and ourselves included, not too far behind. Lowell rounded first, we were second, Blackaller and Petterson were third and fourth, I can't remember in what order, then Ding. On the two reaches we held our positions and on the second beat we moved up to first as the wind freshened. One reason for our being first was that the current started pushing us to weather as we approached on port tack leaving several boats, Lowell particularly, well above the lay line. In fact we had to bear off in the last hundred yards even though we weren't close to laying the mark at the beginning of the tack. We hung on to finish first (with a one-minute lead-Ed.); North nipped Blackaller for second, Petterson finished fourth with Schoonmaker fifth, and Wennerstrom was sixth. Bruder again had all kinds of trouble as his main halyard came unhooked and I guess he couldn't get it to hold so he retired from the race just after the beginning of the second beat. Our winning margin for the series was eight points over Schoonmaker with Wennerstrom in third place another eight points back.

The Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club held another fine function at the Marstrand Hotel where the final prizes were awarded. Naturally Carl and I were extremely thrilled to have won the World's. Just as memorable in the years to come will be the warm and friendly hospitality shown to us by our hosts and all the Swedish people we met during our stay.

Charlie de Cardenas did a marvelous job handling the actual running of the races. As I recall every single race except the fourth was started exactly on time, and I am sure that that one would have been also if the wind had cooperated. Before the series started I overheard Charlie saying that he would attempt to set all the lines square, and as near as I could determine that was the case except of course for the last minute shifts that might have favored one end ever so slightly over the other.

Ever since I started traveling to different places for regattas I have always hoped that some day the Star World's would be held in Sweden so that I might make the trip. For me this was a dream come true.

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