SI Vault
October 20, 1958
Eastward, Ho!
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October 20, 1958

Events & Discoveries

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The Livingstons, a middle-aged team of bachelors who own extensive pastoral and timber lands and run Texas-like numbers of cattle on their family stations, exude an air of traveling Highland chieftains, an effect which is heightened by brother John's inclination toward striding majestically up and down the deck of the family yacht while playing a wild Scots skirl on the bagpipes. Their visit to New York followed their attendance at the cup races at Newport, and was serious business.

"We conducted what you might term a post-mortem," said Frank. "We spent one day with Olin Stephens, one day with Colin Ratsey and one day over at the Stevens Institute test tank. It's all been most helpful, and most discouraging. We feel that the bloke who takes on the Americans had better do it damn slowly and damn carefully! They're a strong bunch, don't you know? The Japs tried it and look what happened to them—copped out!"

"We've spent one whole year on nothing but this cup business," said brother John. "Been around the world twice, talked to every designer in the business, looked at it from every angle, and where are we? Farther back than when we started!"

"We saw one chap at Belfast," said brother Frank. "He had an incredible design, nearly 100% perfect. Supposed to sail directly into the wind. It did, too. Just one thing wrong. Only worked when there was no breeze."

The brothers Livingston have been around boats for a good part of their lives. They've taken their yachts, all named Kurrewa (aborigine for "fast-running fish") in such major deep-water races as the trans-Tasman Sea, the Sydney-Hobart and, with their sister Emily aboard as cook, the Los Angeles to Honolulu.

"We're in dead earnest about a challenge, you know," said brother John. "But there's much to be clarified. We had our lawyer ask the New York Yacht Club people what the word 'constructed' meant in the deed of gift of the cup. The club passed a resolution saying it meant 'designed and built' in the challenging country. Still doesn't tell us whether we might get an American designer to come to Australia. And I understand the Cubans are in the same, ah, boat."

"We've had a hell of a fright from what we saw at Newport, I don't mind saying," said brother Frank. "We're tackling you 60% on engineering, you know, and you've got to be pretty good to keep up with Stephens and Rhodes and Hunt.

"We're coming back next August to watch your 12 meters race in the New York Yacht Club cruise. We're just not going to be rushed. The only hope for a successful challenger is for him to take it steady—you appreciate that, don't you?"

"Yes," said brother John, "we've got a 10-year plan. Either we'll be here with a boat by then, or we'll be too old to care."

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