On the 4th of July a shining fleet of several dozen yawls, schooners, ketches, sloops and cutters will head out from Los Angeles for Honolulu, as it does every other year. Among the entries in this 21st running of the longest continually scheduled ocean race in the world will be A. B. Robbs Jr.'s Nam Sang; a veteran of 23 years' racing, she is perhaps the most remarkable of all the contenders. Two decades after her launching at Marblehead she was unquestionably a competitive mediocrity, in 1953 ran 23rd in the Honolulu race, in 1955 22nd. But in 1957 she finished first in Class A, third over-all, last year won the Ensenada race, and on the eve of this year's Honolulu must be reckoned as a favorite in the western racing classic.
From a distance all sails seem a sight of simple beauty. With Nam Sang this impression is especially deceiving. Supporting her sails, but visible only at close quarters, is a rigging as original and complicated as ever put out to sea. It's made her what she is today—a formidable racing machine whose unprecedented refinements comprise more lines, winches and levers for her size (66 feet) than any other ocean racer.
Nam Sang's transformation began three years ago when Louis Statham, then the owner, gave his sailing master Ed Grant a blank check to reconstruct her.
Next week in its Honolulu Race Preview SPORTS ILLUSTRATED lays out the complex beauty of what Grant, a mechanical engineer, has wrought. Seven pages of illustration include a gull's-eye drawing of Nam Sang over-all and detail drawings of her most novel elements.
The opportunity to reveal this inventional boat in all its intricacy attests to the hospitality of Owner Robbs. In April he made Nam Sang available to Writer Mort Lund, Photographer Ezra Stoller and Artist Rolf Klep for what amounted to a nine-day "interview" with her—held both at her Long Beach mooring and on demonstration runs.
Robbs's hospitality will not end there. Aboard Nam Sang as observer when she sets sail on July 4 will be Contributing Editor Carleton Mitchell, whose report on the transpacific race will appear in the July 27 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Mitchell could hardly sail on a more appropriate boat: just as the hull of his great yawl Finisterre became a model for many to copy, the rig of Nam Sang incorporates ideas which more may soon repeat.
A. B. ROBBS JR.'S "NAM SANG"