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1966 World Championship - Regatta Report

1966 World's Championshi
p - Kiel, Germany
Regatta Results
Report from the 1967 Star Class Log by Don Coleman

Note: This report has been scanned in by Ed Sprague. For a collection of Worlds' reports plus photographs contact Ed Sprague ( ejspraguejr@mac.com ) to order his book "The San Diego Bay Star Fleet".

First a word about Varberg, because many of the World's Championship contestants had just come from there, the European Championship in Sweden, and there was much comparing of Varberg notes. The interest displayed by the local citizenry extended even to providing accommodations for all in private homes, a memorable experience. The midweek pig-roast and the final dinner at Varberg Castle left an ineradicable impression. Among the ghost voices there can now be added the echo of "Blow the Man Down" as rendered by Bert Williams.

Many of the Scandinavians were disappointed that Varberg didn't give us more wind. One record that will be hard to beat is the eleven general recalls before the second race. The line was long, the skippers anxious, and one end totally favored. Everyone was determined to start there: indeed, there was nowhere else to start, and a great jam developed there every time. Someone mentioned current; but boats were over and luffing two minutes before the gun. The line was shifted several times, and the wind went around with it. After two hours of this everybody gave up and spread out somehow, and the race eventually started.
The story of Joe Duplin's impressive victory is told in a separate report following this one.

The trophy presentation featured wonderful prizes presented by local Varberg merchants to the first 20 finishers. Duplin won a rowboat, Timir Pinegin chose enough epoxy paint to cover twenty Stars, and Lowell North couldn't resist the tandem bicycle. Ulf Schroder deserves a decoration for his flawless arrangements, that got the boats first to Varberg and thence to Kiel.

1966 World Champions John Albrechtson and Paul Elvstrom

Preliminaries at Kiel
As boats and personnel arrived at Kiel-Shilksee Yacht Harbor, ten kilometers above Kiel on the fjord, a southwester was moving in that was supposed to mean several days of pleasant weather. But by Saturday morning of the tune-up race, black clouds were hustling in from the southwest with the wind continually increasing. Commodore Smart cancelled the tune-up race with the suggestion that individuals make their own decision to sail. Only a few went out.

The skippers' meeting on Monday was routine but for the announcement of one innovation: there would be a middle marker on the starting line. With the aid of this and the extremely long lines, there was not a single general recall during the week and very few individual recalls. But the real reason for the excellent starting conditions was the superbly set lines, precisely square to the wind direction.

First Race

On time and on schedule, 77 boats approached the line in winds at force 6 and higher in the gusts. Huge short seas were the nemesis of the light weather sailors.

Joe Duplin went directly inshore, hit a starboard tack header, and in one tack led at the weather mark with Paul Elvstrom close behind. Scandale passed Goldstar on the reach. As Joe said later, "I thought, if he can do it, let him go ahead. Was I surprised!" The second time up the inshore tack was again favored; Elvstrom took it, stayed ahead, and won the race, with Duplin, Peter Tallberg and Dick Stearns following in that order. A local favorite, Bruno Splieth, with a brand new boat, tried a straight downwind approach to the finish that proved disastrous; he lost the mast over the bow in what by now was a force 7 breeze (about 35 statute miles per hour, or more than 30 knots). The toll was a stiff one: 9 out with some kind of rigging trouble or breakdown, one withdrawal, 67 finishers. Worse was in store.

Other favorites from the European Championship, Pinegin and North, were 6th and 8th. North, with Finn silver medalist Peter Barrett as crew, spent the rest of the afternoon and evening laminating a batten on the forward side of their compression-cracked mast.

The evening's festivities, hosted by Paul Fischer's crew, Mr. Ottomar Lampe of Kiel, proved to be a highlight of the social week. As they entered the party a familiar sight greeted the crews: a boat full of water- but with some added features in the form of ice and full bottles of every description.

Second Race
Tuesday morning, cloudy with impending heavy winds, found Lowell North still working on his mast. The epoxy had not cured; but a hot iron finished the job in time for the second race. Ten minutes after a flag end start North Star was headed and at the weather mark had a substantial lead. He won the race handily with Stearns, Elvstrom and Eckart Wagner 2-3-4. This race proved to be the heaviest of the series, with steady force 7 winds and frequent gusts to force 8. The seas were short and deep, with constant intervals of 3 to 4 foot waves in succession. The boat, unable to respond to its buoyancy under such an onslaught of water, would be engulfed to the rails. As a wave passed you would fall into the trough and but for a controlled heel and falling off you would hit with an inevitable crash. Water came in on every wave and the crew was continually hiking and bailing. Travellers were fully relieved, and mainsails whose jibs were trimmed too flat looked like something they shouldn't. The reaches and runs were a wild experience. While many boats tacked, or tried to tack, around the reaching mark, some jibed on a plane. Few whisker poles were set and very few boats ran straight down wind, Scandale being an exception.

Ding Schoonmaker, sailing on a port run to the finish line, caught a puff from the lee and with the vang still on heeled the boat into a trough. The bow and rail went under, and so did the boat. Ding and crew John Beyer suffered little but for the cold. The boat was recovered and after some minor repairs finished a very good series despite the mishap. 25 boats failed to finish the race. Lowell North's comment was, "I've never sailed in anything like this, not even in Portugal".

Joe Duplin was used to this kind of weather but his boom wasn't and it broke on the first reach. He tied things together and sailed the rest of the race, breaking a Barney post, and still managed to finish 16th. Dick Stearns' second in this race put Glider into a strong second place in the series standings to date.

On Wednesday, many skippers were still busy making repairs when the third race was postponed and finally declared off for the day, in the same sort of conditions. No one was sorry.

At the mid-series trophy presentation that night Paul Elvstrom, leading by two points, was given a warm welcome to the Star 1966 World's.

Third Race
On Thursday morning Dave Kirby, International 14 skipper, crewing for his Brother Bruce, donned his foul weather gear and sighed, "Here we go again, making gyrations that I never knew a Star could take". The race started in force 6, increasing to 7 by the second round. North started at the flag end, picked up the shift at Buelk Lighthouse, and rounded the weather mark with a substantial lead. Elvstrom picked up one boat on the first reach and three on the second, and was only 5 lengths behind North at the last weather mark, but Lowell held his lead to the finish. Elvstrom, now leading by four points, won the Vanderveer trophy for series leader at the end of the third race. Walter von Hütschler lost his mast 100 yards from the finish line. Eight boats did not start this race and six did not finish.

Fourth Race
In lighter winds, force 5-6, the shift was again inshore at Buelk Light. Elvstrom and Duplin went for the header on the left side of the course while Knowles, in a center position, led most of the first leg. But the eventual expected shift gave the inshore boats the advantage, and Elvstrom led around the course, increasing his lead on the runs and reaches. North chose the seaward side of the course and finished 8th. The race committee was continually moving the course farther offshore from Buelk Lighthouse point to minimize the advantage. By the end of the week they had it as far out in the sea as possible or practical.

Fifth Race
The series ended with the lightest race, but still plenty of air, the normal southwester. Joe Duplin started at the middle of the line, soon tacked to port, and played several slight shifts and similarly on the second weather leg to lead throughout the race. North, Stearns and Elvstrom started near the flag end and were headed to overstanding. The wind headed back slightly at the weather mark and Duplin, Wagner, North and Stearns rounded in that order, with Elvstrom welt behind. There was much speculation at this point as to Elvstrom's tactics, which would have doubtless been different but for the precaution of covering. He rounded the home mark 15th, and at this point Stearns' 4th place position would win him the Gold Star, but Elvstrorn picked up four boats to finish 11th while Stearns was dropping three for 7th.

Paul Elvstrom, four times Olympic Gold medalist, current 5.5 World's Champion, culminated a record year by winning the most coveted Star World's Championship.

Elvstrom is no stranger to Stars. He first appeared as crew with Albert Debarge in both the European and World's Championships in 1957. They were runners-up in both events. He has raced in several Kiel Week regattas. His diamond Star rig is well known. During the series he continually made adjustments; when it was all over he had changed the mast position 13 times. Among other things, during the week he installed jib sheet outhaulers. He sailed the Star like a dinghy, and even the crew had the typical tail-in-the-sea style, as John can ruefully testify. Paul's constant plea, when Albrechtson wanted to rest, was, "Hike out; I can't see the waves". If he couldn't see the waves, he said, it was like sailing blind. Paul's superb downwind sailing is something to envy: he keeps the boat very flat with the skipper and crew amidships and maneuvers into each wave always trying to maintain a downhill position, easier said than done as the accompanying photographs testify.

The perfect combination of boat mastery, the right winds, good crew, fine starts, and, one must admit, "A little bit o' luck", have always been the determining factors in the winning of a Star World's, and 1966 was no different.

Bruno Splieth had more than his share of bad luck, In the last race he was on starboard, a port tack boat tacked too close, and hooked the top of Bruno's mast, bringing his second mast of the series clattering down. The other boat was not damaged.... Eckart Wagner sailed a good series but for one race. I'm sure he is still wondering how he managed to misjudge the start of the first race when he sailed below the flag and had to cross on port tack. He finished 36th.... The misfortune that befell Lynn Williams can serve as a warning to all. Tying a bowline while picking up a tow after the last race he caught his index finger in the knot, severing it at the first joint.... On the way to the Yacht Club for the trophy presentation the new World's Champion lost the trailer and Scandale went on a solo ride that ended at a brick wall: no damage.

The Kieler Yacht Club, with a final display of their outstanding organizational ability, staged an exceptional dinner. President Frank Gordon was the master of ceremonies and the presentations were made by Otto Schlenzka, whose efforts were among those primarily responsible for the success of this great event.

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