The remark at the end by Robin Knox-Johnson about having crossed the ocean 6 times with one of his crew. I have had the great privilege of having made 5 crossings with Jack Cummiskey, 3 with Larry Huntington. And crossings with so many of the other competitors; being that this was my 9th.
I am 8 years younger than Robin but Perhaps my last? Who knows.
A reunion of the crews from 1964 and 1974 America’s Cup defenders was a wonderful event filled with tales of the past. All made possible by Jimmy Gubelmann, as I like to call him the glue that binds. I heard stories that I had not heard before and a few I knew.
Mariner, Courageous, Intrepid, Valiant were represented from 1974 and Constellation and American Eagle from 1964.
The America’s Cup showcased foiling under sail; something no one can ever unsee. Foiling is the new standard. Swing keels are also a standard in the search to reduce wetted surface.
It is hard to imagine that “Charisma” was once the standard for speed under sail. Construction with aluminum lent itself to very strong boats that could be easily altered. “Charisma” was perhaps the penultimate IOR boat.
For ease of altering a boat nothing can beat aluminum. Carbon fiber is however in a class by itself for strength to weight ratio; making today’s yachts lighter and stronger than ever.
Every sailor wants a boat that is faster than his opponent. An edge that allows for errors in judgment. The achievement has been interrupted often because of rating rules; which attempt to make unequal boats equal. The disparity has now grown to a point where it is silly. Not that it was ever perfect.
Uffa Fox sitting on the upper balcony of his house in Cowes watching over the boats returning from a day’s racing, worked towards planing hulls, light and strong.
Dick Carter, so well known for fast boats that two of his designs were chosen for Admiral’s Cup teams before they were finished; i.e. untested.
Süd Fischer’s “Ragamuffin” , for me was not only the fastest of her time but the best sailed.
The just finished America’s Cup has changed the paradigm of the search for speed under sail.
Gene Ambo was one of the early regulars sailing on “Charisma”. The Charisma Crew held a reunion in Chicago two years ago. Gene was surely the life of the party.
A Remembrance of His Life, Age 82. He was known variously as Gene, Geno or Ambo and sometimes as “The Super Jap” and thirty years ago on May 29, 1980 he was one of the eleven persons who met at the offices of Kaufman and Ladd for the purpose, “To discuss the steps to establish a social Club to be named the Eastport Yacht Club.”
Gene Ambo was not from Eastport but then none of the founders of the EYC were from here.He was born in California of Japanese parents and although they were industrious farmers, the family was interned by the Federal Government shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.This did not deter the United States Government from drafting him into the army after the end of World War II.Gene served in the Army Air Corp which brought him to Chicago.After his discharge from the Army, he stayed around Chicago and got involved in photography and eventually had a successful graphics and advertising business.There he got to racing sailboats on the Great Lakes and then on occasion on the East Coast and to Florida for the then popular SORC.He developed into a respected navigator and all around racing hand mostly on boats from the Great Lakes.When in his mid-40’s, Gene dropped out of the business world and got to managing ocean racing boats full time and this brought him often toAnnapolis and Eastport.In the late 1970’s he settled here and among other things he established Presto Photo, the first one-hour film processing shop in this area.
Gene was very active in the formative years of the EYC and was the first Entertainment Committee Chairman.The parties that he organized were large and consistent money makers in the early years of the club.He had an unusually good, if reckless, command of the English language.He came up with the name Spring Cotillion in place of the name BN Ball.When we asked him why Cotillion, he suggested that we look it up and we did and found it to be “An elaborate dance marked by the giving of favors and the frequent changing of partners.” He continued to be active in ocean racing and was often the navigator for Jack King in MERRYTHOUGHT and she was a consistent winner.
But then other interests call and he dropped out of the EYC and then he moved back to Chicago where he lived with his wife Milenka.Many of us were in contact with him by e-mail where he rather constantly entertained us.Gene Ambo and his wife Milenka did visit Eastport of the 20th and the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Eastport Yacht Club.He was very pleased to have been a part of the creation of the YYC.
It is our understanding that Gene is to make one more trip to Eastport but in a somewhat more compact form and more quite manner then usual and there is to be a Celebration of his Life and a spreading of ashes.We will keep those persons who are interested aware of the developments.
These observations were organized by Fred Hecklinger, Rob Ladd, Jeff Goldring and others of the original founders of the Eastport Yacht Club
I unexpectedly received at Christmas a copy of Ed du Moulin’s book “My Life”. During the Jubilee in 2001 at Cowes Ed came aboard “Columbia” the 12 meter along with Jim Hardy and presented me with a copy of his book ” The America’s Cup and Me”.
I am a big fan of autobiographies.I have already read the book cover to cover; finding so many familiar names entwined in the stories found there.
I raced to Spain with Rich in 1972 aboard “Charisma” belonging to Jesse Philips. I found the stories that Rich would have told his father in the book. I look back at these events fondly, and have only the best memories of all the crew.
Jesse was in the process of divorcing his wife of 27 years. He spent so much time on the SSB that he would run the batteries down. We told Jesse that he had to be careful. His response was that Huey Long on “Ondine” seemed to have no problem , why was it that he did?
Copies of these books are available by contacting the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol Rhode Island.
In 1972 Following the Mediterranean Championships in Sardinia, I returned to Newport, won the Shields national championships with Joe O’Hora and George Brazil, and practiced for the Windsurfing worlds, that would take place in San Diego. Following the Windsurfing I joined “Charisma” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio circuit” styled after Admiral’s cup, three boat teams. Our team comprised of “Safari”, belonging to Paul Adams, “Sorcery” belonging to Jim Baldwin, and “Charisma”
The whole event was almost surreal .We rendezvoused as a crew at JFK for your flight to Rio, 13 hours, in a plane that was one-half cattle. In the name of economy I packed as if I were sailing one of today’s boats; only sailing gear, additionnaly having been told that there were no events. The first evening was a very formal reception at the US embassy. The next night was dinner at her royal highness, the princess of Denmark. I think that sets the stage. I was only moderately embarrassed.
Ted Turner was the guest skipper. The photo of the sunset wastaken at the finish of the first day race. As you can see there is no wind,we managed to finish. This 20 mile race had no time limit; there were boats still struggling to the finish line the next day. We raced to Santos, south of Rio, as a middle distance race. Then the long distance race left from Santos past Rio, to Cabo Frio.
This is were things go interesting, It must have been the first morning; the humidity at 110%, hence all the hatches are open, and I am still stuck to my bunk. We had an Argentine cook, for this race, cooking up a storm, at breakfast. I could hear and feel the boat starting to accelerate, helped change from the half ounce chute, toe the three-quarter, and then to our heavy 1.5 ounce coated spinnaker. About to eat the feast that had been prepared, spreaders in the water. and water pouring in from everywhere. The boat comes up, and off we go, cleaning up the mess below, and once more, spreaders in the water. and water pouring in from every opening. We charge up on deck and wrestle the chute down. Breakfast in now only and unfinished thought. With the boat under control, I go below to help bail and clean up, I hear an unfamiliar noise, and start looking everywhere to identify it. Finally discovering that it was Jesse’s knees literally knocking together.
From there, Ted took the wheel, and we were all on the rail to the finish. with a double head rig.
There were many other wonderful anecdotes, between the culture and the characters who were sailing in this era.