Note: This report has been scanned in by Ed Sprague. For a collection of Worlds' reports plus photographs contact Ed Sprague firstname.lastname@example.org to order his book "The San Diego Bay Star Fleet".
When you come right
down to it, no one has a record like that of Agostino
Straulino, the 1956 World's Champion. He is the only man ever to have
won the Gold Star three times; he is the only skipper credited with nine
Silver Stars, and eight of these represent the last eight consecutive
European Championships, all with huge entry lists; and he has won the
Championship of Italy eleven times, including the last nine consecutively.
His ten straight daily firsts in the 1955 Italian and European Championships
rocked the Class.
American sailors almost brought the Star World's Championship back to the United States in the fabulous series sailed on the pellucid Bay of Naples in September 1956. On the last weather leg of the final race, however, Captain Agostino Straulino of the Italian Navy and his crew Nicolo Rode came miraculously from far in the rear to pass enough boats to take fourth place and clinch his third Gold Star.
Lowell North and Jim Hill of the San Diego, California, fleet, who would have won the series had the final race ended at the first round, had to settle for the runner-up spot after seemingly having the series in the bag.
More Stars raced in the series than in any previous championship. A total of sixty-four had officially entered but at the last minute three Italian and two Yugoslav entries were scratched. On the starting line were 59 boats, topping the previous 49 starting record at Gibson Island in Maryland in 1951. Each of the 13 nations represented had strong contingents and until the very finish of the finale it was a wide-open series.
The winners of the daily races were well distributed without a single double winner. Harry Nye of Chicago, twice a Star champion, took the opener; Straulino, the second race; Duarte Bello of Portugal, the third; Robert Ciappa of Italy, the fourth; and Alvaro de Cardenas, of Cuba, the finale. To indicate how rugged the competition was, defending Champion Charlie de Cardenas, the unbeatable winner in 1954 and 1955, placed fourteenth at Naples.
Racing conditions were nearly ideal for Stars with little sea and light to moderate breezes from the southwest. The scenery was breathtaking. The course lay just off fabled Naples with Vesuvius on one side and the panoramic islands of Capri and Ischia as a background. Hordes of Italian and French girls in the briefest of brief well-filled Bikinis dashed along the course edges in motorboats, cheering their favorites.
The breeze was deceptive
in its shifts and there was always a right and a wrong place to tack.
It was rarely the same from one lap to the next. Nobody guessed it right
all the time, but Straulino did the best job of it and certainly deserved
to win the series.
Since there was a shifty five-mile breeze, a twice-around triangle was set for the second race. The shifts were tricky, but the native sailors played them right as Consentino led Straulino at the weather mark and Philippe Chancerel of France took third over North and Bill Lyon of New Jersey. Downwind, North slipped back and Lyon advanced to fourth. On the much fresher wind the second time up, Straulino took Consentino while Fiuza passed Lyon and Chancerel. Positions did not change on the reaches to the finish. Nye was back in fourteenth spot. That night the scoreboard read: Merope I and Merope III, 114 each; North Star II 110; Gale 109; Anin, Gam and Kurush IV each 104.
A windward and leeward
course for the third race in a fourteen-mile breeze saw Harry Adler of
Brazil out sail Bello to windward, with North Star third and run Anin
fourth. Bello and Adler exchanged positions on the run with North holding
his third, Ciappa fourth and Foster Clarke of Nassau fifth. On the second
beat there was no change among the leaders but Lyon rounded ahead of Clarke,
de Cardenas and Nye. At the finish it was Duarte Bello first, a habit
he has acquired in World's Championship races almost regularly once a
year; Lowell North second, to lead the score at this stage and win the
Vanderveer Trophy; then Adler, Nye and Ciappa.
Upwind in the finale on a triangle, which was twice postponed waiting for the wind to settle, Ciappa led Alvaro de Cardenas with North third and defending champion Charlie de Cardenas fourth. Straulino was back in tenth. If North could hold it, he was in. On the reaches Alvaro worked out over Ciappa while North held his third over Dad de Cardenas. Nye was sixth, while Bello, Chancerel and Fiuza still had the edge on Straulino. By the final beat the wind shifted, freshened, and then near the weather mark softened. Alvaro held his lead upwind and North worked out to second place over Ciappa. But Straulino, by playing it just exactly right upwind, bottled up to fourth, passing the elder de Cardenas, Nye, Bello and Fiuza to become the first three-time World's Champion in the forty-five year history of the Stars. The winner's average daily place was 4.2 out of 59 boats.
The 1957 series cannot be held in Italy under Star rules. The points piled up over the past three years by Alvaro and Jorge de Cardenas under the (old) system, still valid for 1957; take the event back to Havana in November of this year.