Chapter XVIII - Modern Star History
Halfgales and mountainous seas, broken ultra fragile masts, bruised ribs and a glorious time, marked the 1946 World's Championship. (complete results) The classic was held in late November to avoid the hurricane season and give shipping every chance to return to normal. Havana has an exotic charm all its own and that was a special occasion. The war was over, the boys had the wanderlust and skippers were once again to sail their own Stars. We had almost forgotten what a Star in proper racing condition looked like. The highly polished hulls and gleaming rigs we saw at Havana were a sight for sore eyes. What a difference there was between them and the war weary appearance of so many of those semi-derelicts of the previous year.
Competing Stars were moored off the boathouse on the Almendares. A flock of the club's professional sailors did the heavy work. Star skippers are not accustomed to having someone else even rub down their boats. A few stags stayed at the boathouse and another handful at the Havana Yacht Club itself (official headquarters) which was a good two miles down the coast. Everyone else had rooms at the Hotel Presidente, a like distance from the river, but in the opposite direction. It became a sort of secondary headquarters and a bulletin board was put in the center of the lobby. All results and notices had to be made in triplicate, one for each place.
The distance between points was an obstacle. Those who had been there before rented a car and chauffeur in advance of their arrival. The rest had to find a taxi and try to make the driver understand them. When everyone was leaving the hotel at once, it was not as easy as it sounds.
No boat could anchor more than a short distance off shore, because the bottom fell away to an incredible depth. It was impossible to provide a starting line of proper length for twenty-eight entries. The stakeboat was on the fringe of the outer break and gave practically no room to jockey at that end of the line. Its position, however, was accurate, being off the foot of a street, shown on the chart and easy to locate.
We would have had the same trouble establishing a standard course, except for the northeast trades. They favored us for the first four days. The locals anchored a red and yellow spar buoy to the northward of Morro Castle. They called it a shoal ledge, although it took about two hundred fathoms of steel cable and a huge concrete block to hold it at the carefully plotted spot. The buoy was two and one-half miles due northeast of the line, making a perfect windward and leeward course.
In the mornings the winds were light and variable. There was only a gentle ground swell on the gulf. Shortly after the noon hour the northeast trades settled in and increased steadily. The boys thought it was blowing over forty at times, and it did seem so, but the weather bureau which is supposed to know, recorded the highest velocity as twenty-eight miles per hour. A swift Gulf Stream set was running against the wind and closer to shore than normal. It sharpened those long swells and topped them with white caps. It is safe to say, insofar as the sea was concerned it was the most rugged World's Championship ever sailed.
The Cuban navy furnished two eighty-five-foot sub chasers, one of which was used as a committee boat. The set ran with such force that it held it broadside to that wind and sea. The I.R.C. and its helpers were rolled about as much, perhaps more, than the competing skippers.
The disappearance of the red and yellow buoy, on the morning of the first race, caused considerable excitement. A tug captain, who knew that no buoy belonged there and assumed it went adrift, towed it, concrete block and all, back into the harbor. The local yachtsmen had to plant it again in a hurry, which was no easy task.
The Simoes brothers were our real worry. They were bringing their Star up from Rio on a tramp, which was behind schedule. No one supposed that it could reach port in time. The navy was ready to send out a seaplane at dawn, intercept it and fly the boys to Havana. That would have forced the I.R.C. to decide whether they were entitled to sail a local Star, under the emergency substitution rule, until their own arrived. Such a dispensation would have created a precedent that might have caused a lot of trouble the following year, but more about that later. The tramp just made it. The Star was rushed to the boathouse and the Brazilians started. Within one hundred yards of the line, they carried out the mast. A spare mast was hastily rigged and they came out again the next day. That mast went out a few seconds before the start. It had been made clear to everyone that skippers were responsible for the condition of their rigs and equipment, so no postponement could be ordered.
Harbor signals were devised especially for conditions at Havana and given from the committee boat, anchored in the mouth of the Almendares. It was just a step from the boathouse, but Stars had to be towed there at the hour the drawbridge opened. Most of their crews were put aboard later. A most efficient young Cuban had the newly created job of harbor official. His speedboat circulated among the Stars, as he urged laggards to hasten. When the "hoist sail" was made, all mainsails went up. About ten minutes later, when signaled to do so, the Stars sailed out of the river. It was only about two hundred yards from the inlet to the line. The idea, however, was to let contestants wait in sheltered waters, until everything was ready, as sometimes there were unavoidably long delays. It worked so well, that the system was used thereafter.
An unfortunate occurrence marred the start of the first race. A moment before the gun, the other sub chaser loomed up about fifty feet in front of the line. Willie Rivero, who operated the loud speaker, shouted at it in Spanish. It was probably a good thing that those yelling in English were not understood. It began to swerve away, then something went wrong. Suddenly it began to back at full speed toward the approaching Stars. It all happened instantaneously. Several Stars managed to keep clear. Bob Rogers could not. The crash split Gusty's jib and he was forced to withdraw. Cameramen were aboard that chaser and they always try to get too near a sports event. The officer in charge cannot be blamed, however, as there were also a few local dignitaries aboard. I have no idea who they were, but if a young navy officer disregards the wishes of some important personage he is apt to find himself wearing a gob's uniform the next day. It was my own fault that he did not receive more explicit instructions in advance. From then on he proved both efficient and helpful.
There is not enough space to relate the kaleidoscope of incidents that happened during that knock down and drag out series, so I must confine myself to a few highlights. The first four winners were Etchells, Knowles, Fleitz and Nye. The windward and leeward course record, which had stood since 1924, was broken three times. That was due, I presume, to the strong current, which lee-bowed the Stars on the beat. None could be held off before that sea and wind, they would have yawed too much. Hence they tacked downwind. Luffing gradually, they worked in toward the beach, where the head current was deflected by the shore line. Then they would jibe and, with booms to port, head for the stakeboat. If they made it, they could round without jibing again. If not, it meant two jibes, risking the mast, or the time lost in trying to go about twice.
Although warned, few, if any, strengthened their rig. I cannot recall of any wire shroud, even the thinnest, parting under the strain. Most of the casualties were caused by light fragile fittings, especially aloft. They could not withstand the sudden jerks caused by that terrific pounding. Tangs and spreaders broke, or pulled out. Masts performed unbelievable gyrations. Some were lost and some saved. I saw Barney Lehman's bend at an angle of about forty-five degrees, but he kept it in. Harry Nye was not as lucky. He lost his on the last run of one race, but drifted across nineteenth, with a bit of sail fastened to the remaining eight-foot stub. He came back, with another mast, and won two days later.
The trades did not put in an appearance on the day of the final race. Instead, we had a light southerly. It was a weather-breeder, the forerunner of one of those northers. A three times around course was established, with the line off the Malacone. It was not a perfect isosceles triangle, due to anchoring conditions. That was Bob Lippincott's race from start to finish. George Fleitz finished fourth, to win the series for Los Angeles. Bob White, with a second was runner-up and Durward Knowles placed third. It was a good thing it was over, as the following day the weather really started to tune up.
An impromptu meeting was held at the vacant end of the hotel veranda, to discuss the advisability of formulating rules to strengthen the rig. It became rather heated. The taxi drivers, out in front, saw the red ribbons worn by our minor officers and thought it was a communist gathering. They notified the police. Evidently the hotel management explained matters, since nothing happened.
This account would not be complete without mention of Rafael Posso. He was commodore of the Havana Y.C. and vice commodore of the I.S.C.Y.R.A. Possito, the Beau Brummel of Cuba, did not look a day older than when I first met him in 1926. Ever the gracious host, he is the most thorough detail man I ever knew. Without any written notes, he can remember the most trivial thing, if only mentioned once, and every item is always ready, afloat or ashore.
The evening entertainments can only be described as exquisite. They were confined to formal and semi-formal dinner dances. These were not the conventional banquets of cold storage chicken, canned peas and mashed potatoes. Each meal, at which two or more wines were served, was different. The cuisine was excellent, the music was good and the company agreeable. The youngsters might have preferred the hot dog and jazz entertainment. The majority, however, enjoyed that more genteel form of relaxation, after a turbulent day afloat. The writer, of course, is prejudiced in favor of that colorful isle and its sunny people.
Durward Knowles, of Nassau, won the '47 gold Star. (complete results) Hilary Smart (to be heard from in '48) was runner-up, while Dick Stearns (who had been setting the Great Lakes afire) came into international fame, by placing third. George Fleitz, the Los Angeles defender, did not finish in the money, sailing his new Wench.
For California, with few local fleets, to attract twenty-one entries was quite an achievement, especially in a lame duck year. It was that all right, as the event had to leave, not just the continent, but the western hemisphere.
By adding fifty-seven points to his fleets previous total, Duarte Bello took the World's Championship to Cascais. As it turned out, that Portuguese fleet need not have sent an entry to protect its lead, but no one knew that in advance.
There actually was another European entry. The skipper must have been under the misapprehension that borrowed boats were still allowed, if one's story was good enough and his almost was. A local Star was assigned to him to sail until his own arrived, but it never would have. He had the name and number O.K. and the Star was supposed to be aboard a freighter, delayed by bad weather in the Canal Zone. Oddly enough there was such a freighter, but no Star was on its manifest. That could have been an error, due to it having been shipped on deck. The skipper, however, made one slip. He claimed half ownership in a Star owned by a European fleet officer. The latter cabled that the Star was still in Europe, the skipper, while a member, had been in the U.S.A. for over two years and was not a part owner of the boat. The entry was rejected. An apologetic letter was received from the said fleet, disclaiming any knowledge of the deception and stating that the pseudo skipper's fleet membership had been revoked.
A semi-local Star arrived the night before the first race, but no entry had been filed. Had it been accepted, the skipper's eligibility would have been challenged under the six month's transfer rule. He was then registered as belonging to another fleet. That rejection was another wise move on the part of Jim Cowie. Since then there have been no questionable entries.
Nineteen hundred and forty-eight was quite a Star year. (complete results) With most of the major events in Europe, Puget Sound held a Silver Star Championship of North America. Charles Ross, of the home fleet, was the winner. He sailed Cete, the first Star ever built in that locality. On their way from England to Portugal some stopped off at San Sebastian, Spain, for its big international series. It was won by the French skipper, Stephan.
A partly built club, at Cascais, was completed. It provided a sort of shore headquarters, with lockers, showers and a bar. The contestants, however, lived in hotels at nearby Estoril.
Wind, plenty of it, was the outstanding feature. A September date had been selected, as the locals claimed there would be gentle breezes, but they were all wet. The wind fairly screeched. After midnight of the first race, it whistled down from the Sonoras. Four Stars parted their mooring lines and drifted to sea - Africa next stop. In the early hours of the morning, the minister of marine sent planes in search. Knowles' Gem II was located fifteen miles out. All four were eventually towed back to port, pretty well battered. The wind showed no sign of abating and the day's race was postponed.
Lockwood Pirie won the series by a single point, but it was not as close as it sounds. Woodie had already beaten Italy's premier three times. Had there been a tie, he would have won anyway. Hence all he had to do was prevent two more Stars from finishing between them. Straulino, naturally, was runner-up. The Smarts were a poor third, some twenty-five points behind the leaders. Sturrock, of Melbourne, was the first and only bona fide Australian entry. Like de Cardenas, he was a heavy weather favorite; both had withdrawals and their point scores were not impressive.
For some unknown reason, the annual meeting ratified a ten-man I.R.C., although the constitution specifies half that many. Aboard the Santa Maria, the committee boat furnished by the navy, blue ribboned Star officers were so thick that they were tripping over each other. That, and the conflicting lunch hour of the crew and inadequate ground tackle, for the line stakeboat, delayed some of the starts. Otherwise chairman Enrique Conill did a good job.
On one of the off days, the Portuguese staged a bull fight. Cebern Lee, proficient at the art of throwing the bull, was a volunteer toreador. I neglected to mention Hat only bull calves were put in the arena. Lee could run. He beat the calf to one of the safety niches. It was already occupied by three other neophyte toreadores and there was no room. No one seems quite sure whether he, or bull junior, was the most amazed and frightened. Jean Peytel also tried it. He would gracefully side-step the animal's rush, bending at the waist. Evidently it was in anticipation of the plaudits. Whereupon the calf would turn and playfully butt him in the stern. I state on good authority that, during the remainder of his stay, Jean ate his meals off the mantelpiece.
And what meals they were! Everyone agreed that Portuguese hospitality outdid Havana's - so did its wind, but it came from the land and the Stars did not have to plough through such gigantic seas. It was tough going, however, and only five of the twenty-four entries (from eleven different nations) completed all the races. I wonder what Adler thought of that. Yes, Sig was there, combining the past and the present. He will be remembered as one of the team of Adler and O'Brian, who sailed the Canis Minor in the early teens. The pioneers of the gaff rigged days finished a race, come hell or high water. The idea of sailing back into the bay, so as to race another day (which many did) may be all right, but it never won a major championship.
There was so little water on Lake Michigan in 1949 that the World's Championship had to be held off the Chicago Y.C., some twenty-five miles down the coast. (complete results) That was because Stars could not get in or out of Wilmette harbor. At the meeting, before the first race, it was unanimously agreed that if Nye won (he did) it would not prevent the event from being sailed off his own fleet the ensuing year. That action was unnecessary. The rules already provided that the series could remain in the same district, not the same fleet, for two consecutive years. The Chicago Y.C. is not within the territory of the Wilmette Harbor fleet.
Due to that last minute change in venue, another organization had already reserved the space indoors. The annual meeting, therefore, was held in the open air. From what I gather, it was rather a slam bang affair. No one knew who had a right to vote and who did not. Halsted and de Cardenas, between them, managed to get through it somehow. Reeve Bowden flew out to chairman the I.R.C. It had no recording committee that year, hence worked late every evening.
Lowell North and Woodie Pirie sailed as if they belonged in another league. North finished first in four races, but did not win the series, being disqualified the second day. Pirie met the same fate before the starting gun the first day. The disqualifications occurred at the line, where everything was right under the eyes of the I.R.C. Both Stars, because of their speed, caused endless G.C. arguments throughout the winter.
By consistent sailing,
Harry Nye won his second gold Star and second ducking in the lake - an
old Star custom. Bob Lippincott was runner-up, once again attracting little
attention, although he won the fourth race without the help of any disqualifications.
Stan Ogilvy took third series prize.
The 1950 meeting was orderly.(complete results) Charlie de Cardenas presided, while Paul Smart acted as secretary. A roped-off section was reserved for delegates and proxies. They stood, when voting, so there could be no mistake in the count. I was again chairman of the I.R.C. We were all quartered at an hotel, two long blocks away from the club.
Bob Lippincott, of
West Jersey, put on the most spectacular performance. He broke his mast
a couple of hundred yards from the finish and drifted across the line,
under a jury rig, for a ninth. Then he won the series, being the first
to have ever done so with a broken mast in one race; nor was Bob protested
for not displaying his racing number. Believe it or not that happened
to a yacht finishing in a squall under jib only - but not in the Star
class. Nevertheless, the rules state that the racing number must be displayed.
Now there is a kink for the sea lawyer to mull over.
If anyone thinks that Lake Michigan is a mild little pond, they have another think coming. It blew hard in every race and there was actually a surf pounding on the shore. There was only one exception, the Saturday morning race, held then to avoid conflict with the club's regular regatta. A club is perhaps favored with an international event once in a lifetime, but nothing must interfere with that regular weekend regatta, no sir! The fact that those early morning light airs might completely disrupt the results of a series was not considered, yet it almost happened.
Twin Star put so many boats between it and Sea Robin, at the end of the first circuit, that it seemed as if Woodie would again wear the crown, if they finished. Then something happened, which even the contestants do not know about. The haze lifted and we saw stakeboat number two. It did not bear correctly, making the leeward leg about half a mile too long. We phoned its mark officials, who could see number one, to move it the required distance. No Star had as yet rounded. The course was exactly the same, but the right length. It was perfectly legal, the same as replacing a mark gone adrift. Had it not been done, the race would never have been finished. That would have spelled trouble. The Coast Guard had other commitments for the morrow.
Tito Nordio, of Trieste, won within the stipulated three and one-half hours. Lippincott, coming from nowhere, beat Pirie, who became runner-up. Skip Etchells had the third highest point score. A different skipper won every race, against that field of forty-one, beating the previous year's record by a single entry.
Bob took the opener and Durward won the second race, but the Bahaman's jubilation was short. Returning to the club, he discovered that his locker had been purloined. All his valuables were gone, including his return ticket to Nassau. We learned later that there had been other locker pilferings that year.
After winning the third race, Agostino ran into his usual bad luck Friday. It was one of those cold gray days; half a gale with intermittent rain and big seas. Starting that race with a substantial lead, he broke a shroud. Lowering the jib, the Italian used its halyard to keep the mast in Merope. It worked, but with mainsail only, he fell back and finished twenty-ninth. It was the only race in which Straulino did not finish third or better. Except for that one mishap, he would have won the series easily. Etchells won. North, whom they feared in light air, strangely enough made his best showing, getting a daily third.
That same day some well-meaning person lowered the red cylinder, to save it from further punishment. It had remained up throughout over one hundred international races and was in sad need of repair. In fact it should have been replaced. Lowering it had never been an official signal to contestants and it was not mentioned in the race circular. It simply meant that course and mark officials could go home. There were seasoned officers handling those jobs. Suppose the weather mark had been picked up and towed in, what then? The race would have been called and the I.R.C. accused of trying to give those down in the ruck another chance. It was unnoticed, except by a few on the committee boat, but that seemingly harmless act might have caused a lot of criticism.
Another minor blunder occurred at the start of the final race. Because of the way it lay, the line flag was placed on the stern of the committee boat. Our recall officer could not see it from inside the pilothouse and stood on the bridge. The bosun was inside with instructions to sound the whistle if told. It was close, but no one was over ahead of the gun and I so signaled from deck. Our officer said O.K. and walked away. The bosun thought he meant that it was O.K. to pull the whistle cord and did so. A few skippers looked back, but none tried to return. If one had, he would have lost many places in that light air.
Incidentally Nye did not qualify that year and Bert Williams was the defender. Some people thought a start was postponed to give him time to reach the line, but they were mistaken. Kathleen had already been accounted for, but Bert had lowered his mainsail to adjust something. Some locals began to yell, "Wait for Williams." The I.R.C., however, was watching the wind, which had hauled. It postponed the start in order to shift the stakeboats. Otherwise there would not have been a windward leg.
The only criticism that reached my ears was that starts were delayed too long and they were. Let me state here and now that it was no fault of the I.R.C. Even had the courses been in that harbor, there would have been unavoidable delays. Why? Because the I.R.C. seldom was able to get away from the float before the time the first signal should have been given. People simply do not realize that a race cannot be started until, at least, the weather mark is anchored, and placing it takes time. Delays were caused by conflicting shore arrangements.
The I.R.C. had to dispose of all pending cases before the day's race. It did not get to the mess hall until a few minutes after noon. There was always a long line at the buffet lunch table and three or four rows waiting for the bar to open. Yes, some wanted a drink, after a long morning's work, before boarding an arid Coast Guard committee boat. The help, having been kept up late the night before, would not start earlier, nor could you blame them. The I.R.C. had no priority. It does not seek special favors, but it's absurd for spectators to rush out to the line and wait for the officials who start the race to get there.
After the first day, I suggested postponing all signals one hour, but the majority did not wish to interfere with local arrangements. Another solution would have been to bring sandwiches, ice and glasses to the committee room. There probably always will be a certain amount of conflict between race management and shore activities. It usually starts at the annual meeting.
Some commodore decides to throw a cocktail party the same day. His emissary drifts in late in the afternoon. He takes a seat, bites his nails and squirms. When he can stand it no longer, he gets up and says, "Gentlemen, you must break this up or you will offend your host. The commodore and his friends have already been kept waiting nearly an hour."
That does it. Chairs are pushed back and people begin to leave. Some delegate, anxious to submit his motion, shouts it at the chairman. Only a few hear it, due to the confusion. Everyone yells, "Yes. Now let's adjourn."
How can such hasty action be curbed? Do not schedule any parties on the day of the annual meeting. It's the only day in the year that Star fleets meet, through their accredited representatives and they have lots of business to transact. It is useless to warn the one throwing the party, as he soon forgets that warning. Just do not have a party. A second session is legal, but no longer practical. Most delegates and proxies are also contestants. They treasure their day of rest and do not wish to spend it at a meeting.
The foregoing is not said in the light of criticism. Entertainments are necessary to make a World's Championship a success. Naturally the hosts feel their responsibility and wish to do a good job. A little forethought, however, will avoid a lot of quite unnecessary trouble. This statement is made simply to explain those delayed starts. Except for these few little things, which the average person probably never noticed, the 1950 Chicago jamboree was grand.
The waters of Bob Lippincott's West Jersey fleet were not suitable for a standard course. Hence the 1951 championship was held at Gibson Island. (complete results) It is a beautiful spot. Like Havana, however, the focal points are a little too far apart. The writer expected to chairman the I.R.C., but a broken leg and the purchase of a house in the country prevented. Dave Dunigan, international vice president elect of North America, did the honors and made a fine job of it.
These happenings are so recent that they are known to most sailing fans. It is, therefore, only necessary to skim the surface and perhaps mention a couple of incidents not generally known to the yachting public.
The most important feature of the 1951 World's Championship was its all time record of forty-nine starters. That is a slew of yachts to handle on one gun in any race. It gave rise to a flock of suggestions about restricting the number of entries to one from a district, etc. Anything of the sort would be a great mistake. Many fleets, who know they have no chance of placing, send an entry to meet the crowd, gain experience, take back useful information and attend the annual meeting. To change that would undermine the organization. Furthermore, districts would begin to split, just as large fleets have been doing, to gain an extra entry. Pretty soon the same condition would apply again.
If the number of entries become unwieldy, say forty-eight or more, split them into two divisions, by lot. Let the first three races be qualifications. After a rest day, start all over again with three more races. The fifty per cent with the highest score in each qualification group to constitute the championship division and race for the gold Star. The remainder could start fifteen minutes later for consolation series prizes. Do away with special prizes, such as the invaders, which no longer serves any real purpose. It involves one more race, but could be handled within a week. Financing daily prizes should not be too difficult. It is better than the odd and even number type of qualification and would not kill the incentive of all fleets from gathering annually. Maintaining the esprit de corps is the all important thing.
There were the usual complaints about delayed starts. Some people do not realize that the steamship channel, off Gibson Island, is so narrow that the Coast Guard cannot divert commercial shipping. A course between it and land would have to be sailed three times around. It would also bring the yachts too close to the beach. Dave had them towed out three miles and started the races on the other side of the said channel. That and light, fluky airs caused some unavoidable delays. Anyone can be a good second guesser, but Dave used his head. Had a long tow scrambled the results of a race, or a Star run aground, then there would have been justifiable cause for criticism.
Skip and Mary Etchells won. Mary was the first girl crew that ever won a Star world's title. Dick Stearns, of Chicago, was only beaten by one point, while old Prof. Ogilvy, who is always among the leaders, wriggled in third.
Straulino won two races, but fate again deprived him of a gold Star, this time through no real fault of his own. He made a premature start at the end of that long line and did not hear the recall. By the time the course launch overtook him and brought him back, he must have been about half a mile behind that record breaking field and his '51 chances were shot. Unless a loud speaker can be hooked up to the committee boat's electric plant, the committee might just as well use the old time cards with numbers. Those little portable battery amplifiers are no damn good. The human voice through a megaphone carries further in a breeze.
The big event had to leave the continent, but not the hemisphere. It amounted, however, to the same thing. Rio de Janeiro had only a theoretical chance of taking the series to Brazil, if the European entries fell on their faces and failed to finish in several races. Duarte Bello, of Cascais, again took the event to Portugal on aggregate points and that involved a most unpleasant incident. I do not like to air our dirty linen, but it is better for people to know the facts than formulate ideas of their own from a few half truths, which may have been overheard. The worst of it is that everything was caused by a misinterpretation of rules by our own chief of the measurement department, which certainly put the association on the spot. While rather involved, I will attempt to cover the essential facts from memory. I may be a bit foggy on some of the details, but at least I know that I am correct as to the principles and rules. Bello had every reason to believe that the boat he took to Gibson Island was a bona fide Star, since it had a certificate. While he had his own ideas about the contour aft, he did not try to beat the rules. He discussed the matter with our measurement committee chairman before the boat was built and received the latter's O.K.
We have many certified measurers all over the world who are constantly taking the physical dimensions of Stars and sending same to the measurement committee, which grants or refuses a certificate. To speed up and simplify the work, the association supplies these measurers with measurement blanks. On the blank is a rough outline of a Star. As I recall it, measurements at three key stations were mandatory. The dimensions were entered after the corresponding key letter on the form. It was assumed that if the contour was correct at these three stations it would be correct throughout or otherwise noticeable. If noticeable, the measurer was instructed to check and report, as the rules require that a Star be as per plan. That rule, a basic one, is what caused all the trouble. The boat did not look like a Star aft of station seven. Many noticed it and the I.R.C. had it remeasured. Aft of station seven it was not as per plan and was barred from competition. The I.R.C. had a perfect right to take that action. Errors are possible and its first thought must be to protect the interests of the other World's Championship entries.
Our measurement committee chairman contended that the key stations shown on the measurement form superseded the plans. Why that form is not even mentioned in the rules. I am not even sure that it is to scale. It's simply an aid. Bello was given a substitute boat, as he most certainly was not to blame. Perhaps he did better with it than he would have with his own. Anyway he accomplished his purpose. The I.R.C. also made a mistake. It overstepped its authority in ordering the boat rebuilt. Its authority ends twenty-four hours after the series. Bello entered an appeal, but he did so almost nine months after the time limit and it was not allowed. That Bello had to suffer for another's mistake may sound cruel, but if that boat had been allowed to race, it would have created a precedent that would have been most harmful to the Star Class.
And now we enter Europe's golden age of Stardom, the three consecutive years that the World's Championship was held on that continent and the last phase of Star history that can be covered by this book. I was not present and the average reader probably knows the net results as well as I do. I shall confine myself, therefore, to a very brief summary of what happened and let the tabulated score speak for itself insofar as the details are concerned. Perhaps 1 may be allowed a few comments on how these three years have affected the Star class. To my mind they were most beneficial. Few realize how many records were broken, records which will probably stand for many years to come.
This most recent era started with the 1952 Olympics, won by Straulino and Rode. The story is told in chapter eight. Having shaken their jinx, the Italian commanders went on to win just about every championship in Europe. In '52 and '53 they made grand slams, capturing the World's, European and Italian titles. That in itself is a record which will be difficult to duplicate. They almost did it again in '54. I predicted for some years before the majority seemed to grasp the fact, that Agostino Straulino had more potential championship ability than any other skipper and was the man to watch, if he ever got going. My prophesy came true, but I am getting a little ahead of myself.
Quite a number of Olympic entries shipped their Stars from Helsinki to Lisbon. (complete results) The European contingent had to compete for the championship of that continent, also off Cascais, the week before the big event. Merope romped away with the 1952 World's Championship. Bob Lippincott, the gold Star man of '50, was a poor second, finishing twenty-five points behind Straulino. There is another record that may stand for some years to come. The world's title has never been won by such a wide margin of points before. Duarte Bello placed third on his home waters.
The 1953 series was sailed off Napoli beneath ominous Vesuvius that towered in the background. (complete results) Straulino won again, but only by four points, over - guess who - the ever persistent Duarte Bello. Nordio, of Trieste, was a poor third. Since under our rotating rule the same fleet cannot hold the event for two consecutive years, the location had to be decided on aggregate points and it went back once more to Cascais. Now that really is remarkable. Three times Duarte Bello took the World's Championship back to Portugal by aggregate points. He had the help of Capucho in '46 and '49 and of Tito in '50, but Bello was the anchor man each time and sewed it up. The third time he did it single handed. Here you have a record for both a fleet and a skipper, which I doubt will ever be matched again.
The World's Championship having been held in Europe for three consecutive years, it had to leave the continent after 1954. Habana and Nassau were practically tied on aggregate points, or to be more exact, de Cardenas and Knowles were tied. An entry from the U.S. might take it with an outright win, but that seemed unlikely. Lippincott took quite a beating in '52 and the best U.S. entry only placed eleventh in '53. That an African, Australian or South American skipper could win outright was not even considered.
(1954 complete results) What actually happened, and I guess everyone knows it by now, was that Charlie de Cardenas at long last achieved his life's ambition and won a gold Star. Charlie competed in his first World's Championship twenty-five years ago. He has not entered every year during that quarter of a century, but he has been in more World's Championships than any other Star member. Sharing the honors, of course, was his oldest boy, Carlos, Jr. The latter made his debut as crew in the event twelve years ago, when he was only knee high to a marlin spike. Charlie had no intention of messing around with any aggregate point nonsense. He just went out and did it up brown with four firsts and one second, coming within a single point of a perfect score. And there indeed you do have a record, for no one has ever done it before.
Our international president's victory was without a doubt the most popular of all victories. It was also one of the greatest things that could have happened for the class. Fair, fat and over fifty, Charlie proved that the younger element can be beaten. It should lift the morale of many an old timer, who was becoming discouraged. Furthermore Charlie is a Simon pure. It will stop all that nonsensical talk about only those being connected in the sail or boat building business being able to win. Charlie was wined and dined all over Europe and if he ever survives the reception planned by Habana it will be a wonder.
Before I forget, Durward Knowles was runner-up and Agostino Straulino placed third. I have been told by President Smart that the courses could not have been better and the races were run perfectly. Our European brothers outdid themselves for three years in efficient management and lavish entertainment. Those fellows came to the U.S.A. for many years. They probably felt that the odds were overwhelmingly against them because there were so many American fleets entered. It was high time that they held the World's Championship for the time limit allowed by the rules. The event was much more international in character than in the past, because of the many fleets from countries that were within a reasonable distance. The record breaking entry of 1951 was not approached, but that is unimportant. There was no longer the feeling that two fleet entries from a given country should team up and help each other. Nothing in my humble opinion could have been more beneficial for the Star class than those three years. This brings us up-to-date, with fabulous Habana to look forward to in 1955 and with a greater fraternal feeling existing throughout the I.S.C.Y.R.A. than ever before.