The next morning the improved Tomato, with a new satellite-navigation system aboard, headed into the treacherous currents and high seas of Drake Passage. On the first day, Tomato's small sail caught a ferocious northwesterly wind. "Gusts were up to 50 knots," said Gillette. "We capsized three different times, and one of us went overboard each time."
At least the savage winds blew Tomato in the right direction. She covered 90 nautical miles the first two days, and Gillette's crew didn't use their oars until the third day out. The going continued to be rough as heavy squalls tossed the 1,500-pound boat like...well, a tomato. To fuel their furious rowing, Gillette and his mates each consumed 6,000 calories a day—most of it in the form of high-nutrient energy bars and shakes. They had expected to be at sea for 20 days but averaged two knots to complete the voyage in a breathless 13 days.
EARNING HIS WINGS
Since last month, when he was named to head a committee that will review U.S. Olympic Committee operations, George Steinbrenner has embarked on a gift-giving spree worthy of Santa Claus. When speed skater Eric Flaim's two coaches didn't have the wherewithal to attend the world championships on March 5-6 in Alma-Ata, U.S.S.R., Steinbrenner wrote a check for $6,000 to cover their plane fare. Flaim, the Olympic silver medalist at 1,500 meters, won the meet, thus becoming the first U.S. speed skating all-around world champion since Eric Heiden.
Last week Steinbrenner's largess benefited track and field. According to Tracy Sundlun, president of New York City's Metropolitan Athletics Congress and meet director of the fifth annual National Scholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships, which were held over the weekend at Yale, Steinbrenner's munificence was magnificent. "Not long ago it looked as if we'd lose $72,000," says Sundlun. "A week ago it still looked as if we'd come up $53,000 short. It's a big meet, with kids from every state but Alaska and Hawaii. Twelve hundred kids compete and 350 colleges are represented—millions of dollars in scholarships are locked up at this meet.
"We were in trouble. We approached a lot of people, and I can tell you there's a list of people who turned us down. I saw George on TV talking about that Olympic committee. I wrote him a letter. He called me from his car phone. He said he'd help."
Steinbrenner contacted four fellow businessmen, and each of the five kicked in several thousand dollars to underwrite the meet. "George was the stud," says Sundlun. "He's the one who did it. The man is a god."
He's at least a financial angel.
BO THE BOBBER?
Bo Jackson, the Kansas City Royals outfielder who already counts pro football among his hobbies, recently placed third in a celebrity slam-dunk contest. His friend Jim Rice asked him if basketball was yet another hobby. Jackson demurred. "I can dunk," he said, "but I can't dribble a lick. I don't even like basketball. But that bobsled team kind of interests me."
HE GOT THE MESSAGE
Clint Hurdle saw the handwriting on the wall. In an off-season homer-hitting contest. Hurdle, the phenom of 1978 who last year was a pinch hitter for the Mets, lost to pitcher Dwight Gooden 5-0. He decided to call it a career and is now managing in the Mets minor league system.