A dinner of RORC members in France held at the Yacht Club De France. Michael Boyd presided as his first official function since being elected Commodore of the RORC.
Always my favorite club; I was delighted to have the opportunity to be among other members. As many of you know, the RORC and the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes have merged. I was interested to hear more about the future of the club.
I look forward to the Fastnet race this summer after the Transatlantic race which will start in Newport in June.
1969 was my first Admiral’s Cup and first Fastnet Race. The Admiral’s Cup team: Carina, Palawan, and Red Rooster. The Dick Carter designed Red Rooster was chosen for the team before she hit the water. It proved to be a good choice.
This is also the first time I met Syd Fisher owner of a long line of boats called “Ragamuffin”
this one being a 49 foot S&S design. As Carina was approximately the same size we were tasked with covering Ragamuffin. I had never encountered a boat as well sailed as Ragamuffin.
Racing was under the RORC rule, used in almost every country except the United States, where we sailed under the CCA rule. 1969 was the year that the IOR rule would replace both older rules. “Carina” had been launched in the spring of 1969 and the IOR was not yet published. McCurdy and Rhodes had been tasked to design a boat that would rate fairly under any rule. (Many of you may be familiar with “Carina” as she is still winning race today 40 years later.)
The United States team scored well enough to win the Cup. the photo shows Max Atkin and Dick Nye holding the cup. The black and white photo is at the prize awarding in Plymouth at the finish of the Fastnet Race,if you look closely you will notice Ted Turner, Dick Cater, Alan Paul Hope Kirkpatrick in the picture.
The Fastnet race became one of my favorite races; although I have only completed 5 .
No club has been more important in my sailing career than the Royal Ocean Racing Club. I joined in 1969; shortly after finishing the Fastnet race and having won the Admiral’s Cup, sailing aboard “Carina”. One of the conditions of membership is to have completed a number of the Club’s races offshore. A true yacht club. I live in the United States, however I have completed 4 Admiral’s Cups, and 5 Fastnet races as well as many of the Clubs other races. I try to stay in touch with events at the RORC.
One anecdote I can relay to you is about Buster de Guingand a former flag officer of the Club. Buster in the 50’s and 60’s had been the “local knowledge” sailing on “Carina”. By the time I met him, he was older and no longer invited to race. He would however, during Cowes Week,daily take the evening train from London, sleep aboard “Carina”, and spend the night at the beer tent with his old sailing friends. Returning to the boat he would wake me and recount tales of the old days; then catch the morning train back to a London.
Olin Stephens credits Buster with having been essential to brokering the deal leading to the acceptance of the IOR rule.
Some years later when we moved to Cowes we met Buster’s daughter; just one more example of how small the world can be.
Following our delivery across the ocean “Carina” was hauled out of the water at Camper & Nicholson’s yard in Gosport. it made sense because the first race, the Channel race started at Southend closeby. The team was comprised of “Yankee Girl”, “Bay Bea”, and “Carina” Bill Snaith, however was chosen to be the team captain, in Cowes without a boat.
We sailed reasonably, consistently , and the American team finished second in the series, behind the English team.
I should note that the crew was still included in the social events as evidenced by the invitation , It would be my second time to hear Uffa Fox sing sea shanties. The next day Uffa gave my friend Knight Coolidge and myself a full tour of his house and his work. we spent the better part of a day with him.There were no end of stories.
Steve Colgate sailed with us. My memory is that it blew hard every day.
This was my fifth Fastnet Race,(My first was in 1969) I have a fondness for this race; the challenges of the tide gates, the weather, the changes and obstacles.The fireworks the night before, the charm and bustle of Cowes, contribute to this feeling.
We actually led out of the Solent, past Hurst castle, only to anchor at Portland Bill for dinner. The photo of us passing Fastnet Rock continues to be one of my favorite memories. I am at the helm, Dan Cianci on the rail,furthest forward, was lost at sea a year later, only adding to the significance of this photo.
The final photo shows us at Bishop Rock, we missed the tide by a minute or two, in a dying breeze, allowing the boats behind to sail up to us.( also showing just how far ahead we had been.)
We still finished 11th boat for boat, however not achieving silver.
I eluded to the breath of events for 1973, My wedding was one whose date was a established after consulting the sailing schedule. With Admiral’s Cup and the Fastnet behind me I could concentrate on my future wife. We were married in Aste, a small village in the Pyrenees mountains, which separate France from Spain.
Never has there been such a wonderful event at least as far as I am concerned. Not only was I welcomed into my wife’s family, It was the best party I ever attended. Since then I have come to know this region of France, and it has become part of me.
Although it is not near the sea, I brought the first windsurfer to France, sailing it in the lakes in the Mountains. At the time I was reviled by the fishermen, today the fishermen are gone and there is a fleet of windsurfers.