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{1983 World Championship - Regatta Report}


1983 Worlds Championship - the Worlds that almost wasn't
By Jane Pegel, editor of the Log. Jane wrote this account for the 1984 Log
Complete results

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".

The Los Angeles Harbor Fleet was host to the 61st Gold Star Regatta at California Yacht Club August 9-21, 1983. This fleet has played an important role in Star Class history. Pacific coast Star sailing had its beginning at the California Yacht Club in 1922 when the first charter was issued to Ben Weston, Frank Garbutt, and S. C. Hall. Owen Churchill, one of the initial boat owners, sailed with Weston in the 1922 Nationals on Long Island Sound where they placed second. Thereafter Churchill chalked up a number of Pacific Coast championships and was instrumental in getting East Coast sailors interested in coming across the country to race. Happily, Owen was among those welcoming contestants to the 1983 championship. The California Yacht Club signal boat is appropriately named Owen Churchill.

The racing was in Santa Monica Bay where it is normal to expect 12-15 knots each afternoon. However, tropical storm Ishmael had other ideas. He parked over Bahia and pumped hot humid air up over interior California. The resultant atmosphere conditions inhibited the development of the sea breeze.

General Chairman Harrison Hine and his red shirted "Happy Merry Workers" were wonderfully organized and always accommodating. They had every area of concern well covered and handled the unexpected with efficiency.
The wind always blows in California!

On opening day we were confronted with a light, shifty wind with very large holes. This caused a postponement and eventual abandonment in mid-afternoon, only to have a rainstorm and brisk breeze come in when the fleet reached the dock.

Monday conditions improved considerably, but the wind remained under 6 knots varying minimally in velocity and direction. The start was postponed waiting for the wind to settle down. When that had been accomplished, the race committee's next challenge was getting the sailors to stay behind the line. A good portion of the fleet was well over the line on the first start, and on the actual start there were 16 premature starters identified who did not thereafter correct their problem, thereby opening the series with their discard posted up front. After the start, defending champion Gorostegui worked the left side and led at the windward mark followed by Vince Brun. John Dane stood third and Augie Diaz fourth. Their positions remained unchanged, but Brun closed in on the run. As the wind lightened slightly on the last beat, it was apparent that Brun had the best speed. The question became whether or not there was enough boat race left for him to capitalize on his speed. With 3/4 of a mile to the finish, Augie Diaz had worked toward the starboard lay line, Brun started sprinting to the port lay line, and Gorostegui was struggling to keep the lead. 50 yards from the line Brun, on port tack, converged with Gorostegui on starboard. The game was up. Brun crossed the champion to take the gun. Uwe Von Below worked up nicely to finish third.

To get back on schedule, two races were scheduled for Tuesday. But no one told the wind, which remained light and caused a delay in the starting time. When the race finally got under way the wind was 230 degrees and under 6 knots. It was a lay line game with about one third of the fleet going left, the others right. As the boats moved to windward the wind dropped but did so lastly in the right corner where Bill Parks in Shrew was sailing on the starboard lay line. He reached the windward mark with a healthy lead. The boats that had gone left after the start were in the fifties at the mark, including Melges who, coming in on the port tack, had to round three times after twice hitting the mark. Monday's winner Vince Brun and Pre Olympic Regatta winner Joachim Griese were others who unhappily had taken the left side.

Parks set his pole and sailed the rhumb line. His followers went high, but Bill persisted in sailing the short course, headed right for the marks and by the time he reached the leeward mark he'd opened up a 2 1/2-minute lead. From there on he covered conservatively while those behind vied for second. And though his lead was reduced by more than half, he got the gun, his first World's Championship race win. After the 13 premature starters were sifted out, the race second went to John Dane and third to Dennis Clark of Puget Sound. Dane now held the series lead with 6-2; Von Below stood second, 3-9; and Dennis Clark third, 19-3.
A delightful cool Tuesday evening provided the setting for a western hoedown sponsored by Western Airlines. Chicken off the grill and square dancing competed with the race post mortems and protest hearings.

On Wednesday the wind was under 6 knots at 245 degrees. Two races were scheduled again, beginning at noon. Race 3 started on time with no premature starters. Griese was at the port end and went hard left, as he had each of the previous races. Today it would pay off. When the fleet was approximately one third of the way up the leg, the wind swung almost 30 degrees to 215 and Griese was there to take advantage of the shift. Bruno Marazzi was second, Larry Whipple third. The second leg was a beam reach. Opinions varied among the leaders on appropriate vang tension. Some, like Melges, were hard vanged, others, John Dane for one, were eased with the clew above the tack. There was no perceptible speed difference. The first eleven boats flopped to port tack at the jibe mark. Most set poles, except Augie Diaz went high without pole. Melges, 11th, was more alert than his predecessors. He realized that the wind shift had been enough to make the starboard jibe closer to the next mark so merely peeled off and set the pole. Peter Sundelin and Bill Buchan followed suit. These starboard tackers jibed to port about half way down the leg. They all made gains, but Griese scrambled back with an even bigger lead at the leeward mark than at the jibe mark, Peter Sundelin rounding second.

The Charlie flag was displayed at the leeward mark with a new course at 215 degrees. Griese covered conservatively and opened up a 1 minute 50 second lead at the second windward mark. Gorostegui moved up to second. Sundelin was now third. On the run the fleet split 50-50 on port or starboard tack. Griese continued to sail well and opened up an even greater lead in spite of the fact he was covering his followers carefully. Gorostegui came second and Bill Buchan moved to third.

Another race was started shortly after 4:00 p.m. But the wind diminished to nothing, and after almost an hour with no boat having yet reached the windward mark, abandonment was signaled. During Wednesday evening a pleasant east wind made the committee apprehensive about the likelihood of having good racing conditions the following day.

The sun always shines in Southern California!

So on Thursday morning we were still one race behind. The day dawned overcast with light rain but a south wind. Harrison Hine assured me the wind would hold for at least one good race. WRONG! During the noon starting sequence the south wind died. It came back at 325 degrees, but that was brief and it died again. At 3:20 p.m. we went ashore-now two races behind. Travel plans were adjusted. Was this going to be the first incompleted Gold Star Regatta?

Friday's racing was a complete fizzle. One start was attempted but aborted due to a race committee procedural error, which had little effect on the eventual race status because the wind died again and the boats were towed in. The score stood three races behind.
On Friday evening our hosts put on a positively elegant banquet with the theme "The Stars of Hollywood". Even this event had its frustrating moments- how did you handle the strawberries?

When I opened my curtains shortly after 7:00 a.m. Saturday, flag were flapping in the breeze and there were breaks in the clouds.
The wind does blow in California!

Race 4 started promptly at noon on Saturday. The clouds had moved away, the sky and water were blue except for the white cap rolling over in the 14-knot breeze. A new course was signaled, triangle, windward leeward, finishing on the run. Griese and Hagen started near the port end and shortly moved into the lead of the portion of the fleet that was holding the starboard tack. Olle Johansson led at the windward mark, but he had been a premature starter. Griese was second. The next time up the two leaders had pulled further ahead, with Binkhorst third. They held their positions on the run to the finish. With Johansson a premature starter, Griese gained his second win of the series, Binkhorst came second, and Gorla third.

The fifth race was sailed back-to-back, starting in 16-18 knots. Joachim Griese led all the way, always slowly but surely opening up. Gorostegui was second and Binkhorst again had a good race to finish third.

The mood ashore on Saturday night was, for the first time, one of confidence that the event would be completed, and with some excellent racing on the record. Figuring a throwout, the point spread going into the final race was:

1. Gorostegui - 17.0
2. Griese - 22.0
3. Buchan - 48.7
4. Brun - 56.7
5. von Below - 65.7

The final race got away just before 1:45 p.m. Sunday under clearing skies and an 8-10 knot breeze at 240 degrees. Cassinari had the early lead, Raudaschl second, and Sundelin third. Raudaschl moved into the lead at the leeward mark, but the championship was being decided back in the pack, where Griese was struggling in 46th place. Gorostegui, tenth at the first mark, moved up to seventh at the leeward mark. Griese came to the leeward mark still in a poor position and, because his previously worst race was a 20th, he pulled off the course and retired, assured of a final placing no worse than second. Now Gorostegui would have to be 25th or better to retain his championship, his previously worst race being a PMS. He was tenth at the finish to win the regatta by a comfortable margin. Bill Buchan pulled up to second to be 3.7 points behind Griese in the final tally. Vince Brun was fourth, but 19 points behind Buchan. Fifth overall went to Uwe von Below.

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