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One of the lingering mysteries from last month's singlehanded transatlantic yacht race—the unusual difficulties in which aging mariner Sir Francis Chichester found himself—was cleared up last week. Sir Francis revealed in a letter to the London Times that he had entered the race against doctor's orders and suffering from an inoperable cancer of the spine that keeps him in nearly constant pain. "I had been given pain-killers," he wrote, "but I soon realized that under [their] influence my mind was no longer functioning normally. It was then that I decided to give up." He had hoped to complete the trip home without assistance, he said, but was grateful for the help he got when his mizzenmast was damaged. There will be no more solo voyages, he closed, for any such attempt would "end in a spinnaker run across the Styx...."

Quite an afternoon for the monarchy in Monaco recently. Two members of the royal family, 14-year-old Prince Albert and 7-year-old Princess Stephanie, won their events in a swimming competition at Monaco Beach, while their mother. Princess Grace, looked on. Here, Albert accepts congratulations from swimming teacher Charles Schoebel.

Former L.A. Laker General Manager Fred Schaus must have thought he was caught in a road-company version of The Our of Towners. When he took over as Purdue basketball coach last May, he said he looked forward to the quiet life in West Lafayette. Ind. Last week he was longing for the L.A. freeways again. Two weeks ago the action started with a blowout on the expressway to Chicago. The same day son John broke a friend's nose in a basketball game and Tiger, the family dog, ran off. Then, Schaus crammed his 6'5" frame into an oilcan derby entry that locked wheels with another being driven by Purdue Athletic Director George King. The two shot through a retaining wall and Schaus' car turned over. Contusions and pain. Last Monday afternoon the moving van finally showed up with the Schaus' furniture, just in time to catch a cloudburst. On Wednesday a booster bus Schaus was riding conked out on the way to Indianapolis. One thing, though. Tiger came home.

While his dad was recovering from an infected ringer just before the PGA tournament, 10-year-old Jack Nicklaus Jr. burnished the family escutcheon by winning the 12-and-under division of the Scioto (Ohio) Country Club's Junior Golf Tournament with a low round of 86, his best score ever.

The upstart World Hockey Association has achieved instant status of a sort. The National Hockey League has started to snap up its cast-offs. California Golden Seals Owner Charles Finley said he was hiring Fred Glover, who until recently was personnel director of the Cleveland Crusaders, as his executive vice-president. For Glover the move represented a distinction of another sort. It is the fourth job he has held in professional hockey in the last 12 months. One of the other three was for Finley.

British onetime Golden Girl Mary Rand, winner of three Olympic medals in track and field, gave readers of London's news of the World a unique insight into the Games last week. In an article titled "The Love Olympics," Miss Rand assessed her fellow competitors as romantics. Her conclusion: "They may be champions out there on the field," but in matters of the heart "they arc not so magnificent." Her own record leaves little to be desired. Having married two past Olympians, British oarsman Sid Rand and U.S. decathlon champion Bill Toomey, her present husband. Miss Rand disclosed that yet another athlete had fallen for her. He was the Dutch decathlon champion, Eef Kamerbeek, whom she met before the Rome Olympics in 1960. He was "very sweet," said Miss Rand, and she was "very fond of him." But it would never have worked out. "He was too possessive." She later married Rand.

Did you know President Nixon keeps a football in his desk at the White House? Well, neither did most people until the fact came out during a visit by former Running Back Ollie Matson, who was recently inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame. The autographed ball was presented to the Chief Executive following the 1969 Pro Bowl game.

Last week's death of Wagnerian diva Helen Traubel revived memories of her longtime devotion to the old St. Louis Browns. She was often taken to games by her father, but in her operatic years she was under orders not to attend more than four games a year because of the wear and tear on her voice. She finally bought a piece of the club in the early 1950s. The Christian Science Monitor once said of her munificent obsession: "There is something wholesome and dramatic about this.... Helen Traubel can go back to her hometown, buy a chunk of its sorriest civic advertisement [the lowly Browns] and still pack 'em in at the Met."