won his second Silver Star of the year at this North American's, Wennerstrom,
Lewsadder next at San Francisco
San Francisco Bay,
off Berkeley, produced winds of 18-25 knots for the first race and then
somewhat less during the rest of the week but always fairly steady from
the southwest. There
was a prevalent starboard tack lift near the windward mark that made the
port tack popular after the start, but otherwise no major shifts or upsets.
Chairman Frank Gordon's race committee operated from a large power yacht
belonging to Vice Commodore Schoonmaker of the St. Francis Yacht Club,
completely equipped with all radio aids including radar with which to
set the marks. All boats hauled out after every race at the San Francisco
Yacht Club at Belvedere.
The outcome of the series was in doubt until the last windward leg of the last race. There was a different winner every day, but Blackaller, with the outstanding score of three seconds and a first, entered the final race with a five point lead. At the end of one round this was not enough: the port tack, for once, failed to pay off, and he found himself 9th at the first mark with Wennerstrom second. But the second time upwind he and Gary Mull pulled Good Grief up to 5th while Blott X was dropping to 4th, and the new champion was home.
Bill Lynn supplied
the following write-up to the 1969 Star Class Log:
The series was a battle between two giants; there seemed, from the beginning, to be little doubt that it would go to Tom Blackaller, of the host West San Francisco Bay Fleet, or Stig Wennerstrom, who came from the Kattegatt Fleet, in Sweden, expressly to participate in this series. Blackaller had already won a Silver Star in 1968 at New Orleans, and although he was only eighth in the 1967 World's at Kopenhagen, he had a daily first there. Wennerstrom's record was even more impressive: the 1967 Championship of Europe and North Africa and the 1968 Spring Championship of Europe accounted for the two Silver Stars already won. In addition, Wennerstrom's whirlwind 1968 campaign included winning the national championships of France, Germany and Sweden, and runner-up position in the Tenth District championship.
Despite all this, credit should not be taken away from Chuck Lewsadder, whose 1-3-3 in the last three races brought him within a point of Wennerstrom.
Don Trask, the 1966 title-holder in this series, was not quite up to the terrific pace set by these three. It has been suggested that he lost the series because of the fiberglass peeling off his rudder in the second race; but the fact is that even had he been first or second in that race, all other scores the same, he would not have won the Silver Star.
The top seven boats seemed to have the edge on all the others throughout the week. Blackaller put it bluntly. "If you're not with the top seven, you're not fast".
Pete Bennett, who began the series with a flat jib for San Francisco breezes was not happy with his record after three races and shifted back to his full cut San Diego model. With it, he led the fourth race until the jib tack let go, and then took a first by a good margin in the fifth race. "With the full jib we could point five degrees higher," he remarked.
Most California boats had their masts all the way aft, with the booms hanging an inch or so over the transom. This did not appear to create any undue weather helm.
The race course was one-sided. Every day it paid to get on to the port tack early and proceed to the lay line before tacking back. Boat speed to be able to get in there was essential. There was perhaps slightly smoother water and a big starboard tack lift at the end.
Race Committee communications were ideal. Courses were planned, set out and controlled by radio. The committee was also in radio contact with several government weather sources before and during the races. On the last day, for example, there seemed to be enough wind to start a race, but the committee delayed. The mystified contestants were unaware that the committee had information that a 90 degree shift and a stronger wind were about to come in. When they came, the race was started in the new breeze.
About 13 rigs went out in the heavy weather of the tune-up and the first race. All of these were either old heavy rigs, old tired light rigs, or brand new light rigs that had just been installed with no chance for adjustment. No light, properly tuned rigs went by the board.
All the top boats carried make-up weight to meet the minimum. Of the top people, champions Blackaller and Mull were perhaps the lightest skipper-crew combination. All leading crews hiked by sitting up, hanging on to the backstay, and virtually all skippers sat up also.
My general impression
is of a great series, splendid sailing, fabulous parties at all of which
all skippers and crews were the guests of the sponsoring fleet and yacht
clubs, beautiful silver and crystal prizes, and as an extra bonus every
contestant and official came away with a magnum of champagne courtesy
of Paul Masson Wines. Both the San Francisco and the St. Francis Yacht
Clubs set a standard that will be hard for any silver, or even gold, Star
series to match.