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1957 World Championship


1957 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Havana
complete results

Report from the 1958 February Star Class Starlights by Paul Smart

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".

Excelsior, Havana, Cuba:
Lowell North and James B. Hill, of the San Diego Bay fleet, winners of the Star Worlds with Commodore Rafael Posso.

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.

FIRST RACE
Starting lines and courses were set by I.R.C. Chairman, Harry G. Nye; Jr., farther offshore than usual to insure that there would be no local shoreline conditions affecting the races. It turned out that there were plenty of local conditions, but they were so irregular that the home sailors were no better able to predict them than the visitors. The very first leg of the first race set the pace. The wind was north-east (though light), and everyone thought, "Ah hah! In a north- easter you tack offshore to pick up the favorable current." Five minutes after the start the boats on the inshore tack had sailed into such a lift that they appeared to be a quarter-mile ahead of those who had gone out. Among the out-goers was Lowell North, with the result that North Star was 15th at the windward mark. This might have spelled curtains for a less determined pair than North and Hill; but as they showed at San Diego in August, they do not give up at the first or any other mark. They passed five boats on the run and one more on the reach to round the home mark 9th. Second time upwind they went inshore as far as they could go accompanied by the de Cardenas boys in Kurush IV. This paid off again, and at the windward mark this time only Joe Duplin's Star of the Sea led North Star. The Californian passed the Bostonian on the run, and that was that.

Star Class collection
The Kurush V of Dr. Carlos de Cárdenas has his oldest son, Carlos, as crew in the Star World Championship. They will represent the Havana Star Fleet. The de Cárdenas' have won the Star Class Championship twice. They will try to regain the Star Class World Championship for Havana Star Fleet. The competition is now being held in Havana.

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.

SECOND RACE
Debarge and Straulino started at the inshore end of the fleet, nearest the committee boat, and immediately tacked and headed for the beach. That was all there was to it for Candide: she stayed ahead for the rest of the race. Harold Halsted's Chuckle was a close contender for a while but had to take an extra hitch at the windward mark and dropped to sixth. Howard Lippincott came from offshore into second place at the first mark, and rounded the home mark in the same position. He then tacked out again: but it was too much to ask of the wind gods to favor you twice in the same way this week, and Circus wound up 16th. John Todd finished second in Boomerang to show that he has by no means lost his touch, and Bob Lippincott was third.

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.

Lowell North and James Hill

THIRD RACE
By now people were beginning to get the clue. The first day nearly everybody held the offshore (starboard) tack too long, remembering former occasions when that was the thing to do. On the second day the inshore contingent grew noticeably larger. On the third day half the fleet tacked immediately after the start and by the end of the week nobody could get about and head for the beach fast enough. It seemed that the correct formula was to go in so far that it seemed you would surely over stand. There was a favoring slant in there which enabled you to pass boats on the way out which had appeared to be laying the mark but which in reality would be obliged to tack again at the end. To accentuate this state of affairs the current, which normally runs east, was eddying west until the last day, a phenomenon rare but not unknown in these waters.

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.

FOURTH RACE
Ding Schoonmaker from Fishers Island Sound won the fourth race and Etchells and Dominy bounced back to take second. Again the three series leaders finished in tandem, in the 3-4-5 places, to keep the score in a three-way tie up to the very last day. The next contenders were now all at least 14 points back: Ficker, Etchells, Halsted and R. Lippincott (6th today), all dangerous in any Star race, but as Paul Smart aptly put it, "their fangs had been pulled".

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.

FIFTH RACE
In another light race- the fifth one of this series- North soon got the jump on his two main rivals and was able to concentrate on trying for another daily first, an effort in which he almost succeeded. Bob Lippincott beat him out in a three-way photo finish, which afforded the spectators their biggest thrill of the series.

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!

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