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Personalities of the Star Class

Profiles of
Smart
, von Hütschler, Wakefield, de Cardenas, North, Gordon, Bello, Stearns, Burnham, Ficker, Parks
by Stanley Ogilvy, written in 1969 - 1970

Paul and Hilary Smart after winning the 1948 Olympics

Paul Hurlburt Smart (Starlights, February, 1969)
Widely traveled, holder of important Olympic offices, well known to the yachting communities of the world, Commodore Paul H. Smart is perhaps our oldest and best known officer. Executive President of the I.S.C.Y.R.A. from 1953 to 1965 and our Commodore since then, he, probably more than any other man, is considered to be "Mr. Star Boat" by sailors everywhere.

Not many can point to forty years of enthusiastic participation in Star racing and Class activities.

During the winter of 1928-29, as the first commodore of the newly founded Noroton Yacht Club, he bought six second hand Stars at $500 each, five of which were then drawn for by lot and sold at the same price to other club members. The Central Long Island Sound Fleet had been in existence for six years, unknown to the Noroton skippers who were racing in its waters. At the end of the 1929 season along came a sizzling letter from the late President George W. Elder, who was never one to mince words. Elder dwelt at some length on the follies of racing Stars without joining the nearest fleet or forming a new one. Commodore Smart replied with an even sharper letter to the effect that the Noroton group had never heard of any Star Association and would continue to race how and where they jolly well pleased. The feathers ruffled by this unpromising beginning were soon smoothed down and the Noroton crowd, which grew to number 32 Stars before World War II, formed an important part of the Central Long Island Sound Fleet. It was during this period that the Arms White Series, which has remained an important annual fixture, was inaugurated at the Noroton Yacht Club.

Paul Smart became First District Secretary and a member of the Governing Committee in 1938 and has been a major officer of the Class ever since. He has owned seven Stars and the Ten?Metre Hilaria. He raced in eleven World's Championships, six times as skipper and five times as crew, and holds two gold chevrons. He skippered in the Midwinter Silver Star event at Havana 17 times, and sailed in five North American Championships as skipper or crew. He has chaired the International Race Committee of six World's Championships, including those of 1966 and 1967.

In 1948, as crew with his son Hilary, he won the gold medal in the Olympic Games at Torquay, England. This was the start of a long Olympic career. In 1952 he was an alternate on the United States sailing team, and in 1968 its manager. A member of the U.S. Olympic Yachting Committee since 1956, he was elected its chairman in 1964, and is a director of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Executive Director of U.S Olympians, a national organization of all Olympic sportsmen.
Retired for some years from his law practice in New York City, he now devotes much of his time to his family, his spacious hilltop home in Connecticut, and to travel that is nearly always connected in some way with major yachting events.

On the occasion of his retirement from the Class Presidency four years ago the G.C. passed the following resolution: "The members of the Governing Committee wish to express their deep appreciation and sincere thanks for all that Paul Hurlburt Smart has done for the Star Class during his twelve years as its Executive President. The welfare of the I.S.C.Y.R A has always been uppermost in his thoughts, and in recent years most of his waking hours have been devoted to its cause. His balanced judgment based on long experience has been of inestimable value on numberless occasions. Throughout the Class and indeed everywhere in the world of yachting his name is held in the highest esteem. We are most fortunate that his retirement is far from total, and that, as our Commodore he will maintain the contacts and extend the activities that hair already contributed so much to the continuing health anti growth of the Star Class."

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Hans-Joachim Weise and Walter von Hütschler after winning the 1936 European Silver Star

Walter von Hütschler (Starlights, April, 1969)
Walter von Hütschler introduced himself to a startled Star world by winning four straight races of the World's Championship on Long Island Sound against 35 other entries in 1937. He did not take the Gold Star home that year because, in the opening race, with rigging trouble his Pimm limped in twenty-second. But returning the following year he won the series in San Diego, and then repeated that victory at the first Kiel series in 1939 on the eve of World War II. Walter deserves the major part of the credit for the idea of using far lighter and more sensitive spars, with sails to match, than had ever been thought possible in Stars or indeed any other boat of comparable size. He took the Class by storm in 1937. During the next two years his "flexible rig" became standard; even then, however, he maintained a superiority in helmsmanship and know-how that permitted him to take five of the ten daily first places in the two World's Championships that he won.

He moved from Germany to Brazil during the war, has raced successfully there ever since in a succession of Pimms, and has competed eight more times in World's Championships.

In 1960 his cumulative point score took the World's to Rio de Janeiro for South America's only Gold Star series. He won the VII District Championship in 1964 and is currently Brazilian National Champion.

Racing has been von Hütschler's life. During the early years he kept detailed records of all his races. These had to be left behind in Germany and were lost during the war, but Walter claims that it didn't really matter: "I remembered so well every race I ever sailed that I didn't need records." The intensity with which he concentrated on the game in those early years is pointed up by his attention to detail on the Pimm. "If I thought a cleat might be handier in a slightly different position I would move it, even if only a couple of inches. If that didn't suit, I moved it back again." His arch rival for many years in European and World's Championships was Agostino Straulino, the great Italian ace who has three Gold Stars to his credit. "I studied Straulino's methods and techniques until I could read his mind. I knew before he did whence was going to tack, and why."

Walter von Hütschler has always been one of the Star Class's staunchest supporters. The best interests of the Class are a primary concern to him. He has held the office of Rear Commodore for the past eighteen years. His business travels allow him to visit the Star office in New York at least once a year, where we welcome his cheerful smile and his never flagging zest for living. He likes to time his European visits to coincide with Kiel Week, and any year may find this expert, no longer young but as keen as ever, racing, often in a brand new Pimm, on the windy Kieler Fjord which is still his favorite sailing ground.

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Albert F. Wakefield (Starlights, May, 1969)
Star Class racing on Lake Erie, and in fact all yachting in that area, owes a substantial debt to Commodore Al Wakefield of Vermilion, Ohio. In 1967, the 50th anniversary of his term as Commodore of the Vermilion Boat Club, that organization devoted most of its year book (from which we quote later on this page) to various aspects of his yachting career.

Al Wakefield was listed in the 1922 Star Log, the first ever published, as the owner of No. 32, built in 1919 at Rocky River. 1924 saw the start of his long string of distinguished racing victories when, as Fleet Lieutenant of the Western Lake Erie Fleet, he won the ILYA regatta at Put-In Bay over twelve entries. In 1930 he had a new boat, Crack?O?Dawn, built to his own order by Luedtke in Toledo. The next boat was Awake (No. 1005), a Lorain product by Dusendon, and then Rise and Shine from the same builder. With this boat and Dickery (South Coast) came a steady stream of wins in eliminations, fleet championships, another ILYA, the Rosswurm Trophy, the McGarvey Memorial, and the Fourth District Blue Star Championship.

Meanwhile he had become interested in Class affairs on a world scale and served as the Association's 3rd Vice President from 1945 to 1949, at which time he accepted the chairmanship of a Class Publicity Committee which he himself had proposed and organized. In 1952 he was elected Rear Commodore and the following year Vice Commodore of the Star Class, an office which he held for the next twelve years. During this period he was (and still is) a member of the Advisory Council. Until a few years ago he continued to race actively. In 1963 he served as a judge at the Spring Silver Star championship at Nassau, and in 1969 he attended the final banquet at the Bacardi Trophy series in Florida. From 1942 to 1966 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the N.A.Y.R.U. He is a trustee of the U.S.I.S.A.

The lore of the Great Lakes is strong in the Wakefield family. Through them the family home became the seventh marine museum in the United States. Operated by the Great Lakes Historical Society, the museum has become Vermilion's great contribution to the history of the area.

Commodore Wakefield is today as loyal and devoted a Star enthusiast as he was a half century ago. His last Star was named The Elegant Hour, for that time of the day when, the race over, the participants gather for the cup that toasts the winner and cheers the losers. Many a Star sailor has passed a memorable elegant hour enjoying the hospitality of Al and his gracious wife Lydie at their Vermilion Lagoons home, where the Star was hauled on its own hoist an arm's length from the front porch.

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Carlos Jr. with Carlos de Cárdenas Sr. after winning the 1954 World's.

Dr. Carlos de Cardenas (Starlights, June, 1969)
For several years Carlos de Cardenas was the top name in the Star Class, and during the middle 1950's the de Cardenas family created a sensation throughout the yachting world.

Charlie, as he is known to his sailing friends everywhere, began his Star career in 1925 in his native Cuba at the ape of 21. His first important win as a skipper was the Bacardi Cup in 1931. In 1942 when he won the Midwinter Championship for the Cup of Cuba and a Silver Star, people said, "Fine, but what will he do against the experts when they come back after the war?" Charlie said nothing. Perhaps he thought, "Wait and see." George Elder may well have had Charlie in mind when he wrote, in Forty Years Among the Stars, "When the Cuban skipper loses he takes it with a smile and, if he wins, he modestly attributes it to a stroke of good luck."

De Cardenas was the silver medalist in the Torquay Olympics in 1948, which should have alerted the world to the even more spectacular events that were to come. He sailed in nearly all the World's Championships for a quarter of a century, 1937 to 1962. In 1954, in Portugal's heavy weather, he won the Gold Star against 34 entries with four firsts and a second, which he himself refers to as "I hope an unbeatable record." It certainly has never been approached since. Crewing with him (as also in Torquay) was his eldest son, Carlos, Jr.; and what was not remarked by many, in a very creditable fifth place, beaten only by world famous Knowles, Straulino and Lyon (and of course father and big brothers in Kurush), were two more de Cardenases - Alvaro skippering, with Jorge forward. The de Cardenas dynasty had arrived.

Next year at Havana Charlie defended successfully, Carlos, Jr., again crewing. But this time Jorge was the skipper of the runner up, only four points back. In fact son Jorge took two daily firsts and Dad none. It was the agreement between the brothers that Alvaro skippered one year, Jorge the next. 1955 was Jorge's year, in more ways than one. In between those two World's Championships he had won the North American Silver Star at Rye with brother Carlos crewing, in a fleet of 54, then the largest number of Stars ever to sail together in any championship.

In 1957 Alvaro won his Silver Star and the Bacardi Trophy as well, with Jorge crewing, in the last Midwinters to be sailed in Havana. Carlos, Sr., managed only ninth and third that time. During all those years the spacious and hospitable family home in Havana, in which prizes were accumulating by the hundreds was a high point in the visit of any itinerant Star sailor.

In 1960 Charlie and his spirited and handsome wife Louisa moved to Florida, where they have taken up residence near Miami and become United States citizens. The boys mostly live in Florida and Nassau.

Charlie served as the first International President of the I.S.C.Y.R.A., an office created with him in mind, from 1952 to 1960. After coming to the United States he raced for a few years with the Biscayne Bay Fleet, and now acts as chairman of the race committee of the Coral Reef Yacht Club. "Having retired from my law practice," he said recently, "I am generally available to help run races most anywhere: Caracas, Puerto Rico, Nassau Kiel, Copenhagen." He was consultant to the Admiral during the 1968 Olympics at Acapulco, where the Mexican Navy had 9 minesweepers, 25 Bertrams, and 2600 in personnel patrolling the courses. The photo shows him aboard the committee boat at the 1969 Bacardi Cup series. He has been Vice Commodore of the I.S.C.Y.R.A. for the past five years. Charlie and Louisa de Cardenas remain today two of the Star Class's most energetic and loyal enthusiasts.

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Lowell North after winning the 1968 Olympics

Lowell North (Starlights, August, 1969)
"Who is this fellow North and how does he do it?"

These were the opening words of the LOG account of the 1949 World's Championship, in which Lowell North's North Star crossed the finish line first four times and second once, but was disqualified from one race. This astounding performance at the age of nineteen provoked the quoted question from a startled Star world, and Lowell has since fulfilled the promise of that whirlwind introduction many times over. No one in the Class has a more impressive record today, culminating in the winning of the gold medal at Acapulco last fall.

Rear Commodore of the I.S.C.Y.R.A. for the past seven years, Lowell North is famous both for his yachting victories and for his skill as a sailmaker. The sailing came first, then the sailmaking. By profession originally an aeronautical engineer, he built or helped to build his first two North Stars, and did well with them from the very beginning. His list of nine Blue Stars of the Fifth District dates from 1948, and even before that he had been Malin Burnham's crew at Stamford when they won the World's Championship in 1946. He also holds a Silver Star from the 1957 North American. But his most impressive scores have been in World's Championships: no one else has ever been first three times and runner?up four times. Two of those second places were in the last two World's Championships that have been sailed, so that it is Lowell's high point score that brings the Gold Star event to San Diego next month.

North's engineering training, plus his consummate skill in handling unexpected problems that would make most of us give up in despair, have served him well in staving off many a catastrophe. He sails with a perfectly tuned and highly refined rig, so refined that occasionally something lets go at a critical moment. He is famous for effecting emergency repairs during the last five minutes before the start, or even in the middle of the windward leg. His latest exploit of this kind occurred at Acapulco when he and crew Peter Barrett unstepped the mast at sea, threaded the mainsail into the groove, latched it, raised the entire rig again with the mainsail up, and made the start of the race on time.

Lowell's yachting activities have not been restricted to the Star Class. In 1964 he won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic games skippering the U.S. Dragon. In 1968, prior to his successful qualification as U.S. Star representative, he made a try for a berth on the team as 5.5 skipper. During America's Cup years his business keeps him in close touch with the Twelve?Meters; and he had planned to sail on a Twelve in 1967 but in the end decided against it in favor of campaigning his Star for the season.
Needless to say, the whole North family shares Dad's interest in the sport. Daughter Holly, at the age of nine, handles a sailing dinghy with easy confidence. Lowell's attractive wife Kay points out that "We even spent our honeymoon in Havana while Lowell was sailing and winning the 1957 World's Championship." How sailing?oriented can you be?

Tall and thin, calm and modest, not yet turned forty, Lowell North perhaps comes as close as anyone ever has to being "the perfect Star sailor." He will be at San Diego, his home town, next month, playing the gracious host with one hand while doing his level best to win one more World's Championship with the other.

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Frank & Dorothy Gordon after winning the 12th District Blue Star in 1957

President Frank H. Gordon (Starlights, September, 1969)
Of all the offices of the I.S.C.Y.R.A., at once the most important and the most difficult to fill is that of Executive President. Not only must the President devote many hours, sometimes many hours per day, to the job; he must also be able to make frequent decisions based on balanced judgment and a dependable knowledge of Star Class procedures and precedent. Frank H. Gordon joined the Class in 1939 as a charter member of the Lake Sunapee Fleet in New Hampshire. He has been a Life member for twenty years. He was Treasurer of the Class from 1955 until 1965, when he became its President. At that time Starlights remarked, "It is safe to say that there is no one ... with a better background of experience or a more thorough understanding of Class affairs and cognizance of current problems."

As chairman of the Governing Committee, the President is heavily involved with a constant stream of questions, problems and policy decisions. During the five years of his administration to date, the Class has approved the use of fiberglass as a building material, has adopted a minimum weight limit for hulls, has changed the system of qualification for and representation in the World's Championship, has twice (1968 and 1972) retained its Olympic status when it has been seriously threatened, and has promulgated the policy of making all Stars unsinkable. These are only some of the more major items. Many dozens of other questions, less general perhaps but no less important to some member or group of members, arrive on the President's desk and must be dealt with rapidly and judiciously.

During the Gordon administration the size of the Governing Committee has been increased and its geographical base broadened to include members from the Midwest and from California. Greater responsibility in technical matters concerning the boat and its specifications has been delegated to the Technical Committee, both by the G.C. and by class-wide vote. Always mindful of the current welfare and future development of the Class, the administration has recently opened the way toward the possible adoption of aluminum as an optional material for spars.

President Gordon has donated his time and expertise to help ensure a well managed World's Championship by traveling to Germany and Denmark for our last two record-breaking Gold Star events. He is chairing the International Race Committee at the 1969 World's in San Diego at the end of this month.

A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, Mr. Gordon maintains a very active law practice in New York City. His devotion to Lake Sunapee and Star sailing is evidenced by the fact that he makes the 500 mile round trip from his Scarsdale home to the New Hampshire lake almost every weekend of the summer. Although a past Blue Star champion of the Twelfth District, he is modest about his racing prowess. "I understand the problems of the ordinary Star sailor because I'm one of them," he says. "There are hundreds of us, not world's champions but just keen sailors who love to get out there and race. If I can develop a faster way of setting the whisker pole or vanging the main, that's fun, because I or my crew figured it out nobody told us. Maybe the champions have been doing it for years, but that doesn't matter: we invented it ourselves." His wife Dorothy has sailed with him on many occasions, and now each of his three daughters is frequently found crewing on Gordon's Djinn. One daughter, currently stationed in Thailand, says she can hardly wait to get back into a Star.

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Commodore Duarte Bello

Commodore Duarte Bello (Starlights, February, 1970)
Duarte Bello, Vice Commodore of the Star Class for fifteen years, has been for an even longer time one of the best known Star sailors in Europe and in the world. Born in Mozambique, he came to Lisbon at the age of seven and has lived all his life in Portugal, a life centered around sailing and Stars. In 1943, when he was 22, he married a girl belonging to a family of sailors, whom he had met on her father's yacht. Their first son was born on the eve of the 1948 World's Championship. A second son, Duarte Junior, is now his father's regular crew. The third son arrived during the sailing of the European Silver Star Championship at Cascais in 1954, and Duarte promptly celebrated the event by taking second in the series. Then came a daughter, born during the 1956 Olympic eliminations, and finally another son, Fernando, named for Duarte's brother and long time crew, born while Duarte was in Havana for the World's Championship in 1957.

A sailor from the age of ten, he began his long string of racing victories by winning national junior championships in dinghies and 12 sq.m. Sharpies. In 1941 he won the first Portuguese Championship of the Star Class in a six year old second hand boat. A technical engineer by training, he has had a hand in the building of all his subsequent Stars, and some of them he built entirely himself. Having designed his own fittings, in 1956 he started a small fitting shop which has been increasing its scope and output ever since. He is the originator of many Star innovations, among them a line of stainless steel tracks and fittings, a stainless steel open winch, the famous Bello Bailer and Bello Outhaul, a circular boom vang track (17 years ago!), opening jib reaching leads, and halyard tubes with locks. He has been a member of our Technical Committee since its inception.

He has owned and sailed five Stars, and his record with them reads like a European yachting encyclopedia. His major wins include eight Championships of Portugal, a Blue Star, a Silver Star for the Championship of Europe and six series seconds in that event, in which he has competed 14 times. He has also sailed in 14 World's Championships in an parts of the globe, and although never quite a Gold Star winner, he was runner-up in Naples in 1953 and again in 1962 at Cascais. He has represented his country five times in Olympic Games, twice in Stars; and in 1948 he won the silver medal in the Swallow Class.

He has been involved in a long litigation in connection with the electric railway of which he is general manager, but that has finally been cleared away, allowing him to turn his energies again to the designing and racing that are his absorbing hobby. He writes that an his spare hours have lately been occupied in developing a new ball bearing block and a new super-winch with handle both above and below the deck.

We hope and expect to have "Mr. Star Boat of Portugal," with his genial smile and ever-present cigar, finishing among the leaders as usual in at least the next 14 World's Championships.

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Dick Stearns returning to Chicago after winning the Gold Star In 1962.

Richard I. Stearns (Starlights, April, 1970)
It is difficult to think of anyone in the Star Class who has had such a successful racing career stretching over so long a period as Richard I. Stearns. He flashed into prominence twenty five years ago, when barely out of college, by winning the Great Lakes Championship in his first Glider, and he has been consistently winning major events ever since.

With characteristic modesty, Richard and his charming wife Frances do not display many of his prizes in their home in a northern suburb of Chicago. If they were to gather together every Star trophy he had ever won and try to put them all into one room, they would certainly have to move everything else out. He has won five Blue Stars, six U.S. Shipping Board trophies and ten Sheridan Shore Race Weeks, along with many lesser series of the IV District. But it is in the "big name" events that his performance is the most impressive. He has won the Bacardi Cup twice, in 1967 and 1968. He holds no less than nine Silver Stars, a record exceeded only by Agostino Straulino's ten European Championships. Five of these were consecutive Spring Championships from 1962 to 1966. Along the way he scooped up five Jahncke trophies and three Walker-Meyers series, the open events that accompany Spring Championships.

In 1947 he made his first serious bid for the Gold Star, finishing third in the World's at Los Angeles. He missed first by a scant point on Chesapeake Bay in 1951. Eleven years later he won the Gold Star the hard way, against 73 entries in Portugal.

Representing the United States in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, he and his long time faithful crew Lynn Williams won silver medals.
Because he is the president of Murphy & Nye, the name of Richard Stearns has long been synonymous with Sailmaker to many people. But Dick's career is a typical example of the normal course of events in such cases: he is not a good sailor because he is a sailmaker; rather, he is a good sailmaker because he is a sailor. The Star racing came first, the sail making later. He acquired the business from Harry Nye, another World's Champion and former Commodore of the Star Class.

Dick occasionally steals time off from Stars to sail long distance cruising races. He enjoys ice?boating and dinghy racing during the winter, and has been known to build and fly model airplanes under the expert guidance of a teen?age son. He has for many years been an enthusiastic flier, using his own light plane for both business and pleasure. On more than one occasion the whole family has piled into the plane to fly to some far distant Star event.

Despite all his other activities, Richard Stearns' first and permanent loyalty has been to Star racing. This month he is planning to make a bid at New Orleans for yet one more Silver Star in the 1970 Spring Championship. We wish him luck, and another quarter century as successful as the last.

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Malin Burnham

Malin Burnham (Starlights, May, 1970)
In 1945 two young Star sailors served notice on the yachting world that a new generation of racing talent had arrived on the California scene. They were Malin Burnham, aged 17, and his still younger crew Lowell North, who together won the last of the World War II "skipper series" World's Championships at Stamford, Connecticut, with two firsts and two seconds in five races. Thus one of his many distinctions is that of having been the youngest skipper ever to win the gold star. Even then Malin was already the holder of four gold bars, won crewing with Gerald Driscoll in Chicago the year before.

Since then he has been three times Fifth District champion, and has sailed in seven of the past ten Worlds. Although he has never taken a second gold star, he has come very close. In 1963, leading the series in the fourth race, he managed to hit a mark. In 1964 he tied for second in the series, and in 1965 was an even closer runner-up.

In 1965 a group of Australian Star sailors invited Malin and his wife "Chatter" to come to Australia for the purpose of conducting a ten day racing seminar, a venture described by Chatter in Starlights of May, 1966. Malin must have been an excellent adviser; at least partially as a result of his visit, the Australian performance in major Star events throughout the world registered a marked upswing. Some of the material of that seminar forms the basis of the Burnham paper on Star boat racing mentioned elsewhere in this issue.

Malin's racing philosophy centers around concentration and coordination of skipper and crew, and simplicity rather than gadgetry in the boat. The cockpit should not be cluttered with so many special devices that one can hardly remember when to use them. The few basic tuning fittings that must be adjustable under sail should be ready to hand and easy to operate. He believes that the Star offers an opportunity unique among all racing boats to develop skill in taking a truly sensitive and responsive racing machine to windward.

His customary calm was unruffled when, as Commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, he was suddenly called upon by the Star Class to negotiate a year's postponement in the holding of the recent San Diego World's Championship. He is Assistant Secretary of the V District, and served on the Governing Committee in 1969. Although his business is insurance, he holds a degree in engineering; he has been a member of the Technical Committee for three years and is now its chairman.

The Burnhams' son John crewed with his father in the 1969 World's, the most recent of the five that have been sailed in their home waters, and is currently sailing a Star of his own.

Malin Burnham possesses that rare combination of understanding which is sympathetic to the point of view of the local Star sailor who enjoys his weekend racing at home and also to that of the world traveller in the big?time circuit. In his unobtrusive but staunch support of all Star sailing everywhere, the Class has a great asset.

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Bill Ficker, America's Cup summer of 1970

William P. Ficker (Starlights, November, 1970)
A prominent architect of Newport Harbor, California, is at the present moment one of the most famous sailors in the world. William P. Ficker has recently skippered the 12 Meter Intrepid through its successful defense of the America's Cup against the Australian Gretel II.

Bill Ficker has been racing sailboats all his life. and owned his first Star in 1950. With it he won the Southern California Yachting Association's midwinter championship, but he did not attract much attention in the Class until he captured the Blue Star of the always high-powered Fifth District in 1954 with No. 1560, which was then sixteen years old. The district secretary reported in Starlights at the time that Bill had spent many long hours refurbishing and modernizing the boat. His thoroughness, as well as his sailing abilities and ambitions, were already becoming evident.

Carl Eichenlaub then built him a new hull, which was completed and fitted out by Ficker himself. With this boat he began to win with great frequency. His sights have always been set high. "If we go away somewhere and win a series," he once said, "we want to be fitting representatives of our club. Hence the name NHYCUSA, standing for Newport Harbor Yacht Club, U.S.A." The boat was one of the most beautifully built and finished Stars of its day. In it, with Mark Yorston crewing, Ficker finished second to Lowell North in the 1957 North American Championship at San Diego, and the following year the same combination in the same place won the World's Championship.

Although he has sailed in many other classes, both on and offshore, Bill always maintains close contacts with the Stars. He was a member of the Technical Committee from its inception in 1965 through 1968.

After one previous summer on a Twelve, he undertook the campaigning of the re-designed and re-built Intrepid in the spring of 1970. His wife Barbara came east with him to be the Den Mother at Newport for the crew for most of the summer. From the outset things went well. Bill did not whiplash his crew; he only told them that he knew how good they were, and hoped that they would live up to his expectations. The result of this mutual trust was a happy ship and a superbly functioning crew. Those who saw the hour-long show of the Twelves on a U.S. national television network last summer could not fail to be impressed with the calm but efficient way things were done on the Intrepid as contrasted with the more hectic atmosphere on some of the other American Twelves. And the skipper seemed to maintain the same excellent rapport with his management syndicate.

Intrepid's opponent Gretel II also shipped Star sailors: two of the three co-helmsmen, Martin Visser and David Forbes, are well known Star names. The congratulations of the Class go not only to a deserving winner, but also to the challengers who made it the closest cup defense in many years.

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Bill Parks
Photo by Jan Walker
President William W. Parks (Starlights, May, 1974)
Bill Parks obituary Dec. 10, 2008

Bill Parks, the newly elected President of the Class, has been a Star sailor for more than a quarter of a century. Belonging to the Southern Lake Michigan Fleet, he races in the Chicago area, but also participates whenever he can in major events both near and far. In 1938 he skippered a Star for the first time in a junior championship, and thus began a love affair of long standing. He says, "Stars were, and still are, the most competitive class on Lake Michigan, and I wanted a chance at the best, namely Harry Nye, Woody Pirie and Bert Williams."

In 1947, in partnership with Gary Comer, he acquired his first Shrew, No. 1308, a boat already eleven years old at the time. Four years later with this same Shrew he won the Mid-States championship and the Fourth District Green Star, and was on his way up. His many honors include winning the McGarvey Memorial, the U.S. Shipping Board trophy, and Sheridan Shore Race Weekend three times, the latest being in 1971. He has a gold chevron from the 1955 World's in Portugal, has twice been runner-up in the North American Championship, and won the Olympic bronze medal in Naples in 1960.

He is a civil engineering graduate of Illinois Institute of Technology and has an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. He is a vice president of Vapor Corporation and serves on the board of directors of the American Transit Association. He lives with his wife Pat and daughter Julie in Glenview, Illinois.

President Parks has contributed to the Star Class large quantities of his professional engineering skill. He was chairman of the Technical Committee for the first five years of its existence and has continued to be instrumental in fulfilling that committee's mission. He has been a member of the Governing Committee for ten years and was Executive Vice President last year. He became a life member of the Class in 1972.

Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter talk with Olympic medal winner Bill Parks at 2004 Olympic Trials

Besides being keenly interested in the maintenance of onedesign measurement and control, he has always been sensitive to the importance of public relations and the continuing world-wide promotion and development of the Class and the I.S.C.Y.R.A. To encourage greater participation in inter-fleet racing he established a special trophy for the highest combined point scorer in several major events of the Chicago area. No one has a more genuine interest m the ultimate welfare and prosperity of the Star Class than Bill Parks.

At this writing he is in Switzerland for the semi-annual meeting of the International Governing Committee. He has just ordered a new Shrew for the coming season's racing. We wish him every success as the skipper of his new boat and as the skipper of the organization that means so much to him and to all of us.

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