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".
Two young Californians, Lowell North and James Hill (they are both still in their twenties), did what no one else had ever done before when they won the North American Silver Star championship and the World's Gold Star championship in the same year. Just to make their record complete, they also took the Blue Star in the Star Class Fifth District. This climaxes a brilliant career which has included three daily firsts in the 1949 World's, series runner-up position in the 1956 World's, four Gold Bars as winning crew in the 1945 World's, and five Blue Stars. In most of these victories, Hill was North's crew.
Second in the 1957 World's was Albert Debarge of Paris, with Paul Elvstrom crewing. Third was Star of the Sea, the 1956 Atlantic Coast champion, sailed by Joseph Duplin and Peter Wilhauser, both of the U.S. Navy but representing Boston Harbor.
It can truly be said of this event that never before have so many top-flight experts in the Star Class been brought together for a single series. Almost every one of the 35 entries was a potential winner. It is obvious that any fleet in which Duarte Bello finishes 28th and Bert Williams 31st must be a tough one! Besides, there was the weather to contend with. Unlike the usual Havana trades, the winds are much lighter than those encountered in either of the previous Cuban World's Championships or most Midwinters. Some of them blew off the shore, all of them had holes and flukes in them, and none except the last was accompanied by the expected easterly Gulf Stream current set. Despite all these difficulties, North Star III made a brilliant showing with a 1-10-3-4-2 in that order to win the series by ten points over Debarge, the next most consistent contender.
The fact remains,
however, that North and Hill had their boat moving very fast. They did
not have so-called good luck in every race. Often they found themselves
in the wrong place, back in the ruck, whereupon they worked out of it
by sailing faster and with better headwork than their competitors for
the rest of the race.
And what of the rest of the fleet? At the first mark the first time up, Read Ruggles of Miami led the pack in Twin Star, thus duplicating his feat of the same leg of the same series here two years earlier. That Twin Star tumbled to 30th at the finish indicates the kind of thing that could and did happen not only today but also in every race of the week. Duplin, Ficker and Straulino were the other early leaders, and they finished second, fourth and sixth respectively. It had been Ficker, in Nhycusa, who led around the home mark at the end of the first round, with Merope in hot pursuit.
Among the famous who
also ran were Knowles (25th), Hilary Smart (26th), Williams (28th) and
Bello (29th). Both Lippincotts also fared badly, especially Bob, who put
himself out of the series with a 24th. After that his average was high
enough to bring him home series 4th despite his poor beginning.
Lowell North finished
tenth, but in the general shuffle that was not bad. Joe Duplin, by taking
seventh in this race, moved into the series lead, but only two points
behind him the following galaxy was tied for second: North Star, Boomerang,
Candide and Etchells'
new Shamus. It was a bad day for the de Cardenas family: Alvaro
chalked up a 23rd and the Old Maestro a 30th. But they had plenty of sterling
company back there.
The extreme inshore tack won the third race, and it all happened on the second round. Alvaro de Cardenas led at the first windward mark, with Straulino, North, Knowles, Duplin and Ficker close behind. North had moved up to first at the end of the round, and of course was obliged to cover his nearest opponents. It would have taken more than an Ouiji-board to tell him that he should have covered the boats in 15th and 32nd places, Charlie de Cardenas' Kurush and Harold Halsted's Chuckle. They were the boys who moved up a few places by going inshore. To be precise, they moved up to first and second, respectively, and held those positions to the finish. Debarge followed them, to come out of the ruck for third at the mark, but North, still the leader of the conservative party, nipped him before the end of the race. Howard Lippincott made his best showing of the week with a sixth, also retrieved from nowhere on the second windward leg.
North and Duplin were now tied for first, with North taking the nod for the Vanderveer Trophy for the second consecutive year. Debarge was one point behind them, and next Ficker, ten points behind them. Etchells' hopes were dimmed by a 22nd and Todd's by a 25th in this race.
There were two rest
days, one for a norther which prevented launching or racing, and the second
for a Cuban national day of mourning, November 27th.
Duarte Bello finished seventh in this race; his best showing of a series, which was his worst World's in years. Apparently the new Faneca had not yet found herself. Duarte's finish position the day before was 30th.
A numerologist might
have made much of the mystic role played by the number 30 in this series.
Read Ruggles' Twin Star led around the first mark of the first
race only to finish the race and the series in 30th place. Charlie de
Cardenas finished 30th in the second race-but he won the next day. In
the third race it didn't quite work out Schoonmaker finished 28th, and
won the next day. Dick Stearns
finished 30th in the fourth race, and he didn't win the next day but he
almost did, and certainly made by far his best showing of the week with
a 3rd. In the fifth race Hilary Smart
was 30th, but he chose the wrong day: unfortunately for the ex-Olympian
the series ended.
Alvaro de Cardenas appeared to hold an initial lead, but Stearns' Glider led at the first mark, as Alvaro overstood a bit. Today the current fooled everybody. Up to now it had been flowing west, so that it paid to over stand. In the last race, as Etchells put it, "all the water which had been backing up into the Gulf of Mexico tried to flow out of it at once". So strong was the easterly set that many boats overstood unintentionally. Etchells and Dominy had Shamus so far inshore that as they came out to sea they had to ease sheets more and more, and were finally racing the floating mark downwind. They were actually forced to jibe at the end of the windward leg before reaching the mark.
North Star followed Glider around the first mark, with Bob Lippincott's multi-named and finally nameless 3878 close behind. Lowell, unconcerned about the series with his rivals back in the 'teens, wouldn't let Lippincott pass, and as they worked out to weather in a mild luffing match Stearns covered and went inshore with them. Coming down to the finish they all jibed, Stearns first (perhaps too soon), and sailing somewhat by the lee Glider lost her lead. She also had bad luck just at the line when a powerboat wave killed her speed. Lippincott went around North at the line on a wave and won by a hair, North second, Stearns third, all overlapped. Second was good enough to give North Star the series by ten points.
North and Hill sailed the series that everyone dreams about: their boat was tuned to perfection, the weather was to their liking, they had the right sails, and they were never too far down to recover from whatever bad breaks were their lot. The North Star III will be a tough outfit to beat in her home waters; but every series is a new venture, and no one can predict the winner of the 1958 event, to be sailed August 18-23 at San Diego, California, the first in the U.S. in seven years.
The rugged going at Havana was on shore rather than on the water as the host fleet lived up to its famous reputation. A party every night, sometimes two; a reception by the President and one by the American Ambassador; Thanksgiving dinner at the new fabulous Country Club; parties at the Casino Español, Bacardi Bar, Havana Yacht Club and International Yacht Club; and every minute filled, with hardly a spare second to buy an extra shackle down in the town. Havana, au revoir!