News from the Clyde
Tucked away in a quiet inlet of the Firth of Clyde, downstream from the din of Glasgow, stand the weather-stained boatyards of Alexander Robertson & Son, Ltd., shipbuilders—with an emphatic notice over the carefully guarded entrance: NO ADMITTANCE. Here since last October, under veils of top secrecy reminiscent of Cape Canaveral and Los Alamos, the British have been readying their 12-meter challenger Sceptre for the America's Cup races off Newport, R.I. this September. Until last week, the Clydeside Scots who have been building her allowed not the briefest peek at Sceptre's lines, not the scantest intelligence to leak out as to her racing dimensions.
All this secrecy has had just one aim: to keep a dozen or so American yachtsmen as deeply in the dark as possible. And with good reason. Building now in East Coast yards—and not nearly so advanced as Sceptre—are three American 12-meters designed for Cup defense. American Designers Olin Stephens, Phil Rhodes and Ray Hunt and their backing syndicates have as natural a curiosity about what is shaping up on the Clyde as Nikita Khrushchev, say, very likely has about what missile the U.S. will launch next.
Well, we have news for you, Messrs. Stephens, Rhodes, Hunt and Backers Henry Sears, Briggs Cunningham, Gerard Lambert, Henry D. Mercer, Cornelius Walsh, Arnold Frese, Chandler Hovey and the rest. News, too, for John N. Matthews, who has been overhauling the veteran 12-meter Vim for Cup tests.
Sceptre's total weight will be about 34 tons. She will have an over-all length of almost 70 feet, a beam of 12 feet and a waterline of about 44 feet—nothing too startling there, though the waterline, it seems, will be shorter than Vim's. She will have alternating frames of steel and timber, planking of African mahogany, an 80-foot mast of aluminum alloy and standing rigging of high-tensile steel. Perhaps more interesting: the word from the Clyde is that Sceptre's rated sail area is a trifle more than 2,000 square feet—Vim rates at 1,916 square feet—and Sceptre's sails will be of "a synthetic material." (Sorry, we haven't yet been able to confirm the rumor her sails will be of clear plastic sheeting.) Her keel will be 20 tons of lead-but a special word about Sceptre's keel, gentlemen. Mixed in with the lead for good luck are a handful of gold sovereigns which were ceremoniously tossed into the mold during the casting.
You'll find a picture of Sceptre's hull on page 24, but before you turn to page 24 listen to the lyric impressionism a glimpse of her has just evoked from a Glasgow Scotsman who managed to get past the NO ADMITTANCE sign: "Strong curves sweeping up from firm bilges, blending into the long overhang of her bow forward, rising into a graceful tumble-home on her topsides aft. The rake of her sternpost allows the long sweep of the keel profile to continue into the rudder, and, no matter from what angle she was viewed, Sceptre's lines were satisfying and sweet to the eye."
Hard Core at Bowie
From Bowie race track one day last week came another installment in the long history of the hardcore horse fan and his dedication to the sport of kings. The words hard core are chosen with care, since who but hard-core types would turn out 13,000 strong for Maryland racing in February? The 13,000 made their way to Bowie despite raw, 22° weather and widespread warnings of snow. They watched unflaggingly through a full card of eight races, despite the fact that by the last race snow was falling so heavily the horses were all but invisible. Only then did they think of homes and firesides.
Those traveling by rail had no great trouble, but those traveling by auto found their cars trapped in a hopeless snarl of snow and traffic. Some struggled on afoot and found shelter in homes, restaurants and gas
stations. But the hard hard core? By an instinct of their own they headed back to the clubhouse and settled down. A relief train hauled 2,000 away at 9 p.m. A second relief train hauled off all but a final thousand, and these hardy souls were left to stick it out all night.
By the dawn's early light cigarets were being sold for $5 a pack. The hard core had mostly turned to poker and gin rummy—after the county police broke up seven dice games, checked the dice and announced that four of the pairs were loaded. The track served a dollar breakfast. As the last of the hard hard core were rescued, one of them turned to another. "What you got good for Monday?" he asked.