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".
The 1964 World's Championship was sailed out of Boston Harbor on the waters of Massachusetts Bay, but not from the city of Boston. Winthrop, a town barely five minutes from busy Logan Airport and 20 minutes from downtown Boston, is quite another place. It is doubtful whether anyone in Boston knew the series was going on. Everyone in Winthrop did. The whole town was interested, and the whole town contributed, from the youngest boat-boy, one of whom was assigned to each boat, to the oldest of the town officials who saw to it that the police, fire department, and everyone else who could possibly assist was alerted and did assist.
At the Cottage Park Yacht Club all other activities were suspended for the week as the membership cordially welcomed 110 Star sailors and submitted with good grace to being deprived of their parking lot, their docking space, and most of their other facilities. Although 55 boats is not a record entry list it is big enough to make the series management a major project for the host fleet. We tend to forget that prior to 1962 that number had been exceeded only once.
Measuring, rigging and launching of all boats was completed by 3 p.m. of the day before the first race. An unusually subdued annual meeting forwarded all the proposed amendments to the membership for vote after brief discussion of each. The meeting was followed by a parade to the high school stadium, where the opening ceremonies and flag raising were attended by a huge audience of local well-wishers. Bands played, speeches were made (by everybody including Massachusetts' Governor Peabody) and the week was declared officially open.
The day of the first race proved to be a disappointment as heavy fog blanketed the whole coastal region. The fleet sailed out to the starting area and milled around for a couple of hours, but it was no use. Visibility would improve slightly and then shut down again so that it was impossible to see one end of the starting line from the other, and eventually operations were cancelled for the day.
The immensely long line favored the flag end slightly but not enough to create a jam there, and the fleet got away in good shape. Foster Clarke of Nassau was recalled, and as a result was forced to elect the unpopular port tack to get clear after restarting. At this moment Clarke must have felt that it just wasn't his week. Two days earlier the only serious mishap of the whole event had occurred when his boat was on the hoist. A defective sling broke, dropping the Creepy against the pilings, demolishing her rig and tearing holes in her bottom. Clarke refused the offer of a substitute boat, working night and day to get his own back into shape. And here he was making what amounted to a last start in the opening race. Maybe he should have stayed in Nassau?
No, he shouldn't. Odd things happened in this race, one of which was that the starboard tack, which the local experts thought would have less adverse current, failed to work out. An offshore shift favored Clarke's contingent and he actually finished the race fourth, an excellent showing in this week of ups and downs. The leader at the first mark was Lake Otsego's entry, sailed by the Jaretskis, father and son. They took Crackerjack all the way to the port lay line, tacked, and fetched the mark, just ahead of Mason Shehan's Flapper. Third to round was Skip Etchells, then Joe Burbeck, then Malin Burnham.
And where was that other father and son combination, aboard Big Daddy? Not in the first five yet, but it didn't take them long to get there. The light easterly wind was still laden with fog, and in their search for the second mark the Jaretzkis and others led the fleet too low. Burnham found it first, edged slowly higher without giving away his information, and finally made a dash for it that brought him around first. At about the time most of the fleet were taking down whisker poles and trimming sheets the wind came forward a point or so, leaving the most leeward boats in very poor shape. Crackerjack actually had to tack to round what a few moments earlier had been a leeward mark. At the home mark Shehan and Etchells were still in the first five, and now so were the Edlers, with another round yet to be sailed.
How could anybody drop from first to sixteenth in a single windward-leeward round ? It was easy that day. In the first place there were shifts invisible because of the fog. You could never tell how the boats out on the other tack were faring. Then too, today as every day in this series, the whole fleet was so closely bunched that a small error could easily cause the loss of ten boats in scarcely more than ten seconds. The port tack was now the long one, almost fetching the mark. But just when you took that little starboard hitch made all the difference: to be caught too far out to sea on the final approach to the mark was fatal. Big Daddy rounded first and held the lead to the finish. A closely spaced group containing Chatterbox elected to go low on the last leg, a very broad reach. But the wind dropped and came ahead, the new breeze reaching the leeward boats last. Duplin, the defender, came from 16th at the first mark and 8th at the end of the first round to finish second; and Don Bever of Cleveland, 10th at the home mark, was third. After this race people came ashore muttering about the mysteries of Massachusetts Bay and wondering whether all the races would be as hard to sail as the first.
Another comment of those who had attended both series was that in 1963 there were certain boats that would disappear up ahead day after day, never to be seen again. In 1964 the competition was much closer. No one group had any visible superiority in boat speed. The winners won by small margins and were only very slightly faster than the losers.
At the weather mark yesterday there had been a kindly windward set to the current, making it easy to squeeze around the mark. Today the opposite was true and many had trouble rounding. Stearns withdrew after touching it. A triple collision involving Duplin, North and Millar, as all tried to round simultaneously, resulted in the ultimate disqualification of Millar.
There was no stopping Burnham. This time he led at all the marks, and although always hotly pursued by Comer's Turmoil, Chatterbox still had the lead at the finish by a scant five seconds. Big Daddy was third, to take the Vanderveer Trophy for leading at the end of three races by the substantial margin of 12 points. Stig Wennerstrom's Swedish entry was fourth, and after her fifth of the day before was well up in the series standings. But Burnham, having repeated his last year's performance with two daily firsts, stood second over all. Duplin was third.
The fleet split immediately with North and Burnham out to sea (southeast) and Edler in toward shore (southwest). Edler soon saw the error in this maneouver and took a long starboard tack across the entire course to get with the leaders even though he knew it would bring him in behind them.
Bever did very well on the first round, but so did Comer, who ultimately brought Turmoil home the winner. Stearns showed what he could do even in a borrowed boat by taking second, and Duplin's third moved him two points ahead of Burnham for second in the series standing. But Edler, by finishing immediately behind Burnham, dropped only one point of his big lead.
After the start the majority favored the starboard tack toward the Winthrop shore, a decision based on the third race, the only other northwester. A small contingent consisting of Bennett, Jack Stewart of Ithaca, the Bavarian Fritz Riess, and Joe Burbeck went the other way, and rounded first, in approximately that order. Then came the leaders from the other side of the course, including Edler in about 10th place. Bennett continued to lead for most of the race, but Comer, Burnham and Duplin all went fast offwind and gained places on the reaches. The second time up Duplin closed on Bennett, and Edler moved up to sixth, a position he held at the start of the final run home.
Perhaps you would have thought that 11 points going into the last race of almost any series was a safe lead, but all experts know that overconfidence is dangerous. Uneasy rests the head that almost wears the crown; and Don Edler later confessed to a restless night before the last race. He kept having a recurring nightmare in which Big Daddy was passed by dozens of boats just before the finish line.
A U.S. Navy destroyer-escort had been standing by, discreetly out of the way, all week. As the series was about to end this ship edged in very close to the finish line to watch the proceedings. She was to leeward, of course; but such a big hull, combined with the many spectator boats crowding around, set up a wall that effectively stopped the wind and even created a back-draught. Big Daddy, approaching the finish line safely in 6th place and with only a few yards to go, ran into this dead area together with all the boats ahead. Those behind closed rapidly, and Edler wondered whether his nightmare were coming true. In the last hundred yards there was running, reaching, windward work, running again, for the frantic leaders. Luckily the wind found enough strength to waft everybody across the line, jammed together to be sure but maintaining substantially their original order.
Duplin's win of the
last race gave him runner-up position over Malin Burnham in a tie score
and cut Edler's lead to six points.
At the final banquet at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel in Boston the other award winners included Pete Bennett, who took the Distant Fleet trophy for that entry from more than 1,000 miles' distance not in the first three series places. The First Challenge went to the Vinga Fleet of Sweden on Stig Wennerstrom's performance. A special sportsmanship award was presented to Max Kastinger. The Cottage Park Yacht Club and the Boston Harbor Fleet donated a gold medal for an Invader's Trophy. To be known as the Kennedy Memorial Medal, it will go to that skipper from a land outside the host country who finishes highest in the standings exclusive of the first three. The recipient of the charter award of this new prize was Foster Clarke of Nassau.
After the 1965 series
in California, the World's Championship will have been held three times
running in the United States and must, according to the Class rules, leave
the continent. Fleet point totals accumulated over the past two years
plus those earned at the 1965 World's will determine the location of next
year's event if the series this year is won by a North American. The Hamburg
Fleet in Germany is the only fleet outside North America to have sent
representatives to both 1963 and 1964 World's. Inasmuch as they did creditably
in both those events, Hamburg has an imposing lead with 434 points to
230 for Capri. Two other Italian fleets and Moscow are the only others
in the 200's. To close the gap of 204 points in five races would require
a fleet of at least 41 boats. If this year's event does not draw that
many entries, the 1966 World's must go to Germany unless the 1965 Gold
Star is won outright by someone else from outside North America.