We flew from Miami to San Diego, arriving at 10.30 p.m. Although that was 1.30 a.m. on our watches, we were too excited to be tired, and strolled down to the San Diego Yacht Club, only five blocks from Our Half Moon Inn. There we met Buddy Friedrichs and George Mejlaender who had just driven straight through from New Orleans, and looked it. Ding Schoonmaker took us out on the strip to see Vasa II, the boat we had chartered from Nils Eriksson for the series - bright red, with, if possible, more gadgets on it than my own boat.
Met Nils Eriksson the next morning and undertook the ordeal of getting the boat measured in. Mast and boom O.K.; rudder a half-inch under. Nils started to make it grow (with epoxy). Hull 30 lb. too light. Don Bever produced some lead we could use; still 1 ½ lb. under. Threw in the trailer tie-downs and finally made it. We were the last boat in the water and just caught the tow to the first tune-up race - and wished we hadn't. It took an hour and a half to get out to the line, where I never saw such swells, 10 feet high and 100 feet from crest to crest. But the air was light, ten knots. The flag end was much too favored, causing many restarts. They finally got us off so late that the race was called after one lap. Long tow in - exhausting day. We got used to all this as the week progressed, but it took time. We went out for dinner with Ding Schoonmaker and John Colucci from our club in Miami. John was crewing with John Albrechtson, which meant that we quickly got to know all the Swedes, a great gang who always seemed to be having a good time.
Saturday. Put labels on all the cleats on the console. It took hours to find out what each line was doing, by following it up into the bow under the air bag! Again the tow left at 11 o'clock, and again the line was not square, causing repeated re-starts and re-adjustments. The Committee learned its lesson well during these tune-up races, because during the actual series the lines were long and very square and there were hardly any recalls. The race today did not get away until 3, and we quit and were towed in after one round. Even so, it was getting dark as we arrived at the clubhouse. The people who finished the race must still be out there . . .
Despite the short
distance to the hotel, our wives had become tired of walking and rented
a Volkswagen, which turned out to be an excellent addition for all the
sightseeing. The annual meeting and flag raising were really very impressive
to a newcomer. The boats were all in the water by 1 o'clock and all tied
up in finger slips in front of the yacht club. Each one's name and home
club were printed on a plaque on the dock. Each boat had two school-age
boat boys in attendance, proudly wearing World's Championship shirts.
The actual flag raising was accompanied by a full Navy band on a 100-foot
yacht across the anchorage. The series officials had received definite
instructions from Washington that it would not do to display an East German
flag. The East German sailors had made it plain that they would not come
to the series if they were to be discriminated against. It has always
been Star Class policy to avoid international political involvement, and
so embarrassment was avoided by flying no national flag except that of
the host nation. At the ceremonies, the San Diego Yacht Club burgee was
hoisted, followed by the flags of the three Commodores, the flag of the
I.S.C.Y.R.A., and the San Diego 200th Anniversary flag.
The second time up we passed boat after boat, mostly by taking the port tack, until finally we had the lead, so excited we nearly fell out of the boat. On the last hitch to the mark we had to decide whether to cover Holt or Schoonmaker, who split. Holt seemed to be going slightly faster, and besides he went out to our favorite left side, so we went there with him - wrong. A header coming back to the mark put Ding and Tom Blackaller both ahead of us, where they stayed, and we finished third, happy to win our first gold chevron.
The girls were all smiles when we hit the dock and headed for a cocktail party given by the Swedish delegation for the entire crowd. It was a great occasion, the kind of thing that makes you feel that the effort of coming so far was well worth it after all. This is what it is all about getting to know and appreciate people from all over the world. They had a huge supply of native food and drinks that they had brought with them, everything from herring in sour cream to Schnapps.
At the end of the series the Swedes had travel brochures from home all ready to hand out at the final banquet. A few people thought, "They must have known they were going to win." Of course they didn't know, but with five of their absolutely top skippers competing, they could hope, couldn't they? Besides, they had a double chance. If any of the four San Diego entries, all very fine skippers, had won the event, it would have gone to Sweden on points anyway. In this light, it was nice to have them win it outright.
Holt, with a 1-4-4 so far, won the Vanderveer Trophy, presented that night at the midweek party. All the wives had worked on this dinner party, outdoors, Hawaiian type food, a rock band, and a one act show put on by Kay North, Sue Raffee, Chatter Burnham and Sally Bennett, who sang Star songs made up for the occasion that were the hit of the week. We needed a rest day after that evening.
Of course Pelle and Ulf wanted to be towed in by the boat that carried their wives, but other official arrangements had been made for the winners. He who becomes a public figure has to sacrifice some of his privacy! But some kind soul put their wives aboard the official towboat with a bottle of champagne, which they managed to pour all over themselves and the deck. After everyone else was in, the victors arrived in the harbor escorted by a fireboat with three hoses shooting water high in the air. All the official boats were in the parade with full bunting flying and cannons going off. Everyone on the dock was clapping and cheering and quite overcome with emotion. They tied up right in front of the Clubhouse, and their countrymen jumped aboard and gave them bear hugs and then the lot of them went into the water together. At that moment everyone would have agreed that this championship is the greatest thing you could achieve in life.
The trophies were presented at the cocktail party before the final banquet, out on the club balcony. As Pelle was called up, a sail went up on a Star anchored just behind the trophies, with his number and a Gold Star on the sail- the ultimate dramatic touch. Pelle and Ulf were asked to lower the Star class flag until they would be the ones to raise it again, twelve months and half a world away.