James M. Schoonmaker of Miami, Florida, known by Star Class sailors virtually everywhere as "Ding," added another triumph to his long string of victories in the class by winning the North American Championship at Mobile, Ala. Although scoring was based on the best five of six races. Schoonmaker didn't start his Dingo in the last race. He had won the first three and placed second and sixth in the next two, to run up a score beyond the reach of competitors in the 38-boat fleet.
Schoonmaker's previous major victories in the class include the South American Championship four times, the Western Hemisphere Spring Championship twice and the European and Mid-Winter championships once each. He was also second in the World's in 1970, and third in 1958 and 1972.
Second place in the Alabama-based event, which was hosted jointly by the Mobile and Buccaneer yacht clubs and the local Star fleet, was taken by Barton Beek of the Los Angeles Harbor fleet. Sailing Suzanne, Beek went into the fifth race with a first, a third and two fourths behind him. But his position of 13th in that race, to Schoonmaker's 6th, meant that even though he won the last race he couldn't snatch the championship. Hank Rowan, of Lake George, N.Y., was third in Riot IV placing 7-2-9-5-5. He threw out a 12th, gained in the fourth race.
The tune-up race for the series brought some surprises. Starting in about eight knots of wind from the southeast, the fleet was later hit by four thunder squalls. The fourth dismasted the only boat in the series with a wooden mast, Gordon Bell's Bottoms Up, from Paw Paw Lake, Michigan. She bore the lowest sail number in the fleet, 4663. The last of the squalls (which hit 70 m.p.h.-Ed.) also sank two boats from the Galveston Bay Fleet, Skip Townsend's Follow Me and Mac Taylor's Sapphire. It was the first time Stars have sunk in Mobile Bay in the 45 years that the class has been sailing there. The two sank in water only about ten feet deep. Both were raised and raced the full series, Fallow Me finishing 9th and Sapphire 28th.
Race Details by
In the next race,
with a little more wind, Dingo again led all the way. Buzz Killeen, eighth
the first time up, worked up to second but lost it to Hank Rowan on the
final run to the finish. Allsopp, third the first time around, later had
to withdraw from the race.
The first attempt to sail the fourth race was called when the time limit expired as John McKeague in the lead still had a leg to go. When enough wind came up for a second try, most of the fleet was over early for the only general recall of the week. Finally, Barton Beek led all the way. Schoonmaker, buried at the start, rounded the first mark tenth, was seventh the next time up, and managed to pass five boats on the final run to finish second for an almost unassailable series lead. McManus had been second until the last run, when he dropped to seventh in the uncertain going.
Bruce Dougherty won
the fifth race, but it wasn't easy. Ninth at the reaching mark, he worked
up to third on the second windward leg, then passed Killeen and Townsend
on the final run. Skip Townsend held the lead at the first mark, lost
it to John McKeague on the reach, gained it back the second time up, and
finally finished third. Buzz Killeen worked up from sixth to second. Norman
Wood took fourth for his best race of the week Schoonmaker, who did not
find the light air to his liking, nevertheless came up from tenth to sixth.