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Forty Years Among the Stars

by Commodore George W. Elder


Introduction

In Memoriam
Had George Elder not built it so well it is conceivable that with his passing the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association might have faced serious problems. That his untimely death only caused deep sorrow and regret is the greatest tribute that could be paid to him.

For a quarter of a century he labored so that the Star Class would be greater than any personality and on such a firm foundation that no one person could be considered as indispensable. He foresaw that eventually the original founders would pass from the picture, and as the Class approached the half century mark he well knew that many of its phases and many of its outstanding personalities would be only historical memories. He and we of the Star Class were fortunate in that George Elder never passed into history. He was vital, active and a guiding spirit to the end - witness this book which was his last great work for our Class, and which he completed save for the merest details just before he died.

It took the best part of a lifetime to create the greatest class of racing skippers in the world; to create a fraternal organization of thousands, knowing no national limitations or borders, guided by a spirit of comradeship that surmounts the barriers of countries, or of language, or of race, or of mountains, or of seas.

This book, and the thousands of friends all over the world, many who never met him, are all tributes to him, but his monument is the Star Class. Nothing I say can add one iota to it. Our little white sails that dot the seven seas of the world and its myriad of lakes, which can be seen racing in every clime and in far flung places at any season of the year, is the culmination of what his imagination envisaged. The sun never sets on the I.S.C.Y.R.A. This is the monument George Elder built. Verily it is not a mausoleum.

We are proud of George Waldron Elder - may he be proud of us! The spirit with which we race, the friendships we weld, and the fellowship of Star sailors the world over must be our continuing contribution. George Elder has made his.

Paul H. Smart, Executive President, I.S.C.Y.R.A.

Dedication
This book is dedicated to my wife Juanita. It is she who urged me to write it, so that Star skippers of the future may have a permanent record, especially of the early years of the Class.

Commodore George W. Elder
1893 - 1954

Introduction
This is simply a story of the STAR CLASS, the most fabulous one-design in the annals of yacht racing. Posterity, therefore, is entitled to an authentic account of its development and achievements. The passing of George Corry, early in '44, made it dawn upon me gradually that I was the only one left who knew the facts from the inside looking out. I say this because I am the only remaining Star officer who has served in that capacity since the inception of the Stars' first little local class association at the western end of Long Island Sound. There are no printed records of the first decade, hence I must depend entirely upon my memory. Oddly enough, the details of those very early years are indelibly engraved on my mind.

The Star is the common ancestor of all expanding one-designs. It paved the way, and classes with similar objectives later followed in its wake. Whether the countless thousands in these classes realize it or not, the Star's ancient history is in a sense that of their own organization. In the days of yore, when the huge regal racing yacht reigned supreme, the Star fought the small boat's battle and gained it recognition. It is actually largely responsible for the present small boat era. Those not interested in all this will probably find something in the following pages that may help them solve some problem of their own class organization. All of these organizations have been patterned after the Star's, naturally with some minor variations.

Since it has already been in print, there is no reason why I should not mention my personal contribution to the sport. It so happens that I devised the Star's system of organization in 1916, although it was put on ice for six years. I claim no originality any more than I do to being an author. It was simply a matter of applying an old system to yacht racing but it worked. The results speak for themselves.

While common practice in other countries, in the United States very few yachting organizations have both a commodore and a president. In the Star class, commodoreships are bestowed upon those that have already performed a signal service. The president is the executive head. I mention this because of the many years that Pop Corry and I served side by side in these respective jobs. The late commodore's old friends, including myself, called him George. Hereinafter, however, I shall refer to him as "Pop", the nickname by which he became widely known.

I am fearful that I cannot portray in words the exuberant enthusiasm of those early Star owners. While I wrote the Star constitution and most of its subsequent rule changes, the Star would not be what it is today except for the wholehearted support of those pioneers. The Star was their bible. So convinced were they of the righteousness of their cause that nothing was too much to ask of them. They met adversity with a grin and worked all the harder because of it.

Temporary waning of interest in one or two places means nothing and is to be expected now and then. The overall picture is what counts. The association has grown from five to some one hundred seventy odd fleets. As the old days merge into the new it becomes quite impossible to chronicle local activities and give credit where credit is due. I must content myself with thanking all those energetic Star officers for the part they played. Each and everyone of them was a necessary cog in the Star's ever spinning wheel of fame.

In recent years the panoramic view becomes so tremendous that I must refer to the Log and Starlights to refresh my memory and confine myself to covering outstanding incidents. For the most part that means radical rule changes and world's championships. Only in this book can the complete results of the latter be found under one cover. It would be practically impossible for anyone to work this out piecemeal by obtaining old Logs for the very good reason that many past issues have been exhausted. To the best of my knowledge there are only two entire sets in existence.

If the reader detects a slight similarity here and there to something he may have read before it is not plagiarism. All vest-pocket outlines of Star history, except for a few additions in 1951, were either written by me or from notes supplied by me. If I have inadvertently used some of the phrases of former star editors, I am sure that Jeff Davis, Charlie Lucke and Stan Ogilvy will forgive me.

No one must pick up this book under the misapprehension that it is some sort of manual on how to race or tune a Star. While I have won more than my fair share of trophies in the past, I leave instructing to those better qualified in that department. Furthermore, I have no intention of writing an autobiography. My life, however, has been so closely interwoven with Star development that I must depend largely upon personal experiences and mention my own name frequently to make this a coherent narrative. Any theories or assumptions I may be tempted to indulge in are, of course, debatable, but the facts cited will be irrefutable.

Let me repeat that this is just a story of the Star's development. I aim to carry the reader through the evolution of yacht racing, from the dim past to the present, and try to show how the Star class has influenced that transformation throughout nearly half a century. With the reader's indulgence, I shall strive to tell it with an open mind and without, I hope, being too trite.

MID-WINTER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS 951
Year Winner Skipper Crew Fleet 2nd 3rd
1926 IREX III E. Ratsey G. Ratsey Western L.I. Sound J. Hayward (N.O.G.) Tie, Bedford-Inslee
1927 SPARKLER P. E. Edrington G. Gray New Orleans Gulf E. Ratsey (W.L.I.S.) J. Miller (H.R.*)
1928 BUDSAL II F. H. Robinson D. Potter Peconic Gardiners T. Parkman (G.B.) Tie, Ratsey-McHugh
1929 COLLEEN F. T. Bedford W. J. McHugh Central L.I. Sound G. Elder (W.L.I.S.) A. Williams (G.B.)
1930 JOY C. Ratsey E. Ratsey Solent (England) A. Iselin (W.L.I.S.) F. Teenes (W.L.I.S.)
1931 JUBILEE H. B. Atkin J. Atkin Western L.I. Sound H. Nash (C.L.I.S.) G. Patterson (H)
1932 WINSOME H. Edwards G. Godwin Peconic Gardiners D. Atwater (N.B.) M. deSena (H)
1932 WINSOME H. Edwards G. Godwin Peconic Gardiners Arteaga (N) M. Rasca (H)
1935 ACE A. Iselin G. Carricaburu Western L.I. Sound M. deSena (H) E. Jahncke (N.O.G.)
1936 ACE A. Iselin E. White Western L.I. Sound C. de Cardenas (H) R. Symanette (N.)
1937 TWIN STAR L. M. Pirie J. Pirie Wilmette Harbor P. Shields (P.G.B.) A. Iselin (W.L.I.S.)
1938 CHUCKLE II H. C. Halsted L. R. Bowden Moriches Bay S. Smith (Ot.L.) H. Nye (S.L.M.)
1939 CHUCKLE III H.C. Halsted C. Pflug Moriches Bay H. Nye (S.L.M.) C. de Cardenas (H)
1940 GALE H.C. Nye W. Etzbach So. Lake Michigan H. Halsted (M.B.) A. Iselin (W.L.I.S.)
1941 GALE H.C. Nye W. Etzbach So. Lake Michigan von Hütschler (F.H.) A. Iselin (W.L.I.S.)
1942 KURUSH C. deCardenas G. Aurioles Habana J. White (W.L.I.S.) H. Nye (S.L.M.)
1948 TWIN STAR L. M. Pirie S. Pirie Wilmette Harbor R. Cameron (St. J.) C de Cardenas (H)
1949 TWIN STAR L. M. Pirie F. Dixon Wilmette Harbor A. Tounon (H) C de Cardenas (H)
1950 SHILLALAH W. E. Etchells M. Etchells Western L.I. Sound L M. Pirie (W.H.) C de Cardenas (H)
1951 GALE H.C. Nye L. Gilbert So. Lake Michigan H. Halsted (M.B.) J. Schoonmaker (Bis.B.)
1952 MATE R. Lippincott R. Levin West Jersey J. W. Price (Bis.B.) L. M. Pirie (W.H.)
1953 DINGO J. Schoonmaker D. Pritchard Nassau P. Smart (C.L.I.S.) A. Debarge (FdeP)
1954 FLOWER R. Lippincott W. Lane South Jersey J. Price (B.B.) A. de Cardenas (H)

NOTE - *: Fleet defunct.
Cancelled 1934, political conditions.
1943 to 1946, cancelled because of war.
1947, cancelled being too close to the World's Championship.

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