This weekend at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club will be a reunion of as many “Carina” crew as can be rounded up to recount their memories of sailing on perhaps the most famous boat in ocean racing.
I joined the crew of “Carina” in 1969 quite by chance. I was meant to sail on a different boat for the Trans-Atlantic race that year to Ireland. Plans changed and I was recommended to speak to Dick Nye about the possibility of finding a berth on another boat. He suggested I come for lunch to meet and discuss possibilities.
I had been in an automobile accident during the winter and had broken my leg. The cast was still on as I hitchhiked to New York City from the University Of Rhode Island in the snow for lunch.
I never imagined that Richard would call asking me to join “Carina” and the life-long friends that event would create.
After arriving in Ireland at the finish of the Trans-atlantic race; I was informed that I was included on the list of invited to all the events in Cowes; which meant that I would need a dinner jacket and other appropriate clothes.
On the first saturday after our arrival in Cork I went to the flea market. There I found A pair of Hobnail Boots, perfect for black shoes. Once we arrived in England we hauled out immediately at Camper & Nicholson’s Yard in Gosport; once the boat was secure, I took the train to London buying a very nice double breasted, double vented blazer, which I still own. After the Channel race we moved “Carina” to Souter’s Yard in Cowes. After racing one afternoon I shopped for a pair of black trousers, so ugly that they were really a one time use. My tie was a piece of ribbon(red, white and blue) that had decorated a bottle of wine that was used to celebrate the 4th of July during the race.
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.
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.
Following Cowes Week aboard “Gitana VI” I raced the Fastnet with “Guia” belonging to Georgio Falk. “Guia” had been built for the previous Admiral’s Cup as “Ginko” a 44 foot Bob Miller/Ben Lexan design. A light fast boat, having scored well in 1973 and had won an inshore race in 1975. Again, a mixed crew of talented Italians and French, and again English was the language on Deck, except when faced with a crisis.
It was the ride back from Fastnet Rock, where this occurred, the Wind freshened, to 30 plus knots. We were scudding along at 15-17 knots; A spinnaker change was necessary, I opted to steer staying out of the language barrier problem. From here our fate took a turn for the worse; as I watched the competition shrink on the horizon ahead. Both spinnakers were wrapped around the headstay and required cutting away.
I returned to the United States, to sail the One Ton Worlds, in Newport, with Ted Turner on “Vamp” a Peterson design. A hard series, we faired well, however, being beaten by Lowell North in “Pied Piper” also a Peterson design, so Ted bought Lowell’s boat. which we sailed in the 1976 One Ton World’s. a story for another installment.