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No Place For Children

Mastering the speed and subtle whims of the biggest of the inland scows is a job for a sailor who can keep a clear head and a steady helm at 35 mph

The frantic start of the Class A scow race shown at right, with roughly $40,000 worth of equipment converging at the mark, is a typically hectic meeting of one of the most exclusive sailing fraternities in the world. There are in existence only three dozen of these 38-foot sloops, whose flat-bottomed design with twin rudders and twin bilge boards gives them speeds up to 35 mph. This week, August 19-23, at the Inland Lake Yachting Association regatta on Lake Geneva, Wis., the top 25 members of the clan will gather for the Class A championships.

The A's will not be the only scows at Lake Geneva. In fact, there are some 5,000 other scow sailors—500 of whom will be at Geneva to race scaled-down, 28-foot Class E scows, as well as 20-foot C's and D's—who claim that the A scows and their skippers suffer from elephantiasis of the hull and ego. But A boat owners like 26-year-old Bill Grunow, who puts his ILYA title on the line this week, receive these comments as the snapping of a puppy at the heels of a great Dane. "Here is a boat," says Grunow of the A's, "designed almost entirely for racing. You're sitting so close to the water that 20 mph feels like 40 or 50. You just walk on the waves. And she rides the wind. She becomes part of the wind. It's fun trying to conquer anything with spirit like that."

Booming toward the starting line at better than 10 knots, four Class A scows battle for position as their crews strap down sails and scramble to windward

Sir Prize" crew crowds to windward, Cliff Traff trims jib as Thomas Warner's huge 38-foot A scow, world's fastest sailboat class, rounds buoy in ILYA Regatta.

Moby Dick" tips at sharp angle, builds toward 35-mph top speed in class A race as crewmen climb rail and stand on bilge board to hold hull down.

Cough Drop," bow-heavy under weight of crewman taking down reacher sail, noses into lake and throws swath of spray, displaying typical dish-shaped scow hull as Clark Smith steadies her on course during E-class racing.

O'Fuavego," toppled by heavy wind during class D races (above), lies awash as Skipper John Dixon helps girl crew member Toni Nelson to safe place on bilge board, where she remained until she was lifted aboard police boat (below) which also towed scow ashore.