The Southern Ocean Racing Circuit opened with a chorus of angry-shouts last winter when the leading southern contenders learned that certain northern yachtsmen were calling them bush leaguers (SI, Feb. 4). To a man, the Southerners denied the charge and then, in a season marked by different winds and different winners for every race, went out to prove once and for all that they were strictly big-league sailors.
In the season opener, the February 2 Lipton Cup, the fleet went off into an estimated 10 to 12 knots breeze. At the finish of the 31-mile triangular race there was not a northern boat in contention. Fred Guggenheimer's 67-foot cutter Mogu, flying the pennant of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, came across an easy winner. Second was Jack Price's Comanche, out of Miami. Third: Carleton Mitchell's defending SORC champion Finisterre, from the Nassau Yacht Club.
The results of the February 5-6 Miami-Nassau race were almost as conclusive. Finisterre won it, driving hard through choppy seas kicked up in the Gulf Stream by a 20-knot wind. Second was Windalier out of Corpus Christi; third, Criollo, skippered by Luis Vida√±a of Havana. Three days later in the Nassau Cup it was Comanche, Finisterre and Mogu one-two-three.
If the Northerners were to retrieve anything at all from the season, it had to be in the St. Petersburg-Havana race. For a change, they did not have Finisterre to contend with, since Mitchell had quit for the year after the Nassau Cup, leading on total points but worn out from three seasons of hard racing. Besides, the northern fleet had a strong added entry in John Hertz's Ticonderoga, whose busy crew scrambled through three days of hoisting and mending (see photos at left) but finished, as did everyone else, well behind Criollo.
The season's wind-up, a 60-mile run from Havana to Varadero, seemed no more than a formality, since Vida√±a's victory in the St. Petersburg race gave him the season's championship unless he sank on the way to Varadero. He didn't. The race was won by another southern boat, namely, the Winifred from Clearwater, Fla., and Criollo scraped through with a 12th-place finish that was good enough for the season's championship.
With that final defeat, the Yankee boats headed North to lick their wounds, while the southern skippers headed home to gloat over the total rout of the invaders. "Obviously," said Miami's Woodie Pirie, "whoever made that bush-league statement did not race down here—or if he did he's quiet now."
MENDING SAIL that ripped aboard Ticonderoga on first day out, Hank Hinkel (center) of Tampa, Fla. puzzles over sewing machine as Lee Hoge, Saratoga, N.Y., reads directions from pocket manual, and Carlisle Wilson shows where new seam should go.
UP THE MAST on Ticonderoga's main spreader, Crewman Vernon Lockhart scans horizon for glimpse of rival boats.
BOOSTING SPINNAKER POLE on a downwind run, Johnny Kountz, Toledo, gets lift from John Hertz, owner of Ticonderoga.