On a smoky day in
a chill sou'wester off Newport last September, Vim and
, the two great
contenders for America's Cup honors, squared off for one of their last battles.
Corny Shields, at
Columbia's helm, was already tasting victory: "Just let
her stick her nose into the clear," he exulted, "and she cannot be
beaten." But aboard Vim, Helmsman Emil (Bus) Mosbacher and a superb crew
were ready and waiting, and at the preparatory signal Vim made her move. Like a
great jungle cat, she pounced on
's stern. Corny Shields circled
vainly, trying to escape, finally broke and headed for the line. But he was
had to bear off and Bus Mosbacher had the opening he
was waiting for. He rode his rival past the buoy, in complete control, until
Shields let go the wheel and placed his hands on his hips in a gesture of
resignation. He could have paid no greater compliment to his young competitor,
who on that day, as on many others, had won the race before it had officially
A week later,
before the spray had even settled in Newport, another Mosbacher named Bob was
at the helm of a 210 class sloop off Rye, on Long Island Sound. When that
contest was over, Bob had won the North American Sailing Championship for the
Clifford D. Mallory Cup, establishing himself as the year's unquestioned master
of fleet racing.
brothers, Bus and Bob, are a phenomenon of the sort that yachting—or any other
sport, for that matter—sees only seldom. For an entire year now they have been
whipsawing their competitors with impressive regularity. Bob led off in the
early spring of 1958 by winning the Southern Ocean Racing Conference
championship. Transferring to smaller boats on sheltered waters, he followed
this with the impressive series of victories that finally qualified him to
represent the Texas Yachting Association in the climactic Mallory Cup
competition. Bus came heart-stoppingly close to winning U.S. yachting's
greatest honor when Vim was barely nosed out by
in the cup trials.
When the summer of the 12s was finished he turned to ocean racing, skippering
Callooh in the Southern Circuit with such impressive skill that she won the
SORC championship, and he had his name engraved alongside Bob's.
The careers of
the two brothers are at once parallel and divergent. Both were born in
Westchester County, N.Y., Bus in 1922, Bob in 1927. The sailing lives of both
extend back to earliest memories. "I guess I was 4 4� when I first went
out," recalls Bus" "Dad bad a shell boat, about 12 feet long, a
cat-rigged, flat-bottomed little boat equivalent to today's dinghy. I was
allowed to come along." Bob considers himself 5 when he started. "I
used to think it was great fun to turn the boat over. I remember I stopped when
nobody helped me right it again. The older fellows did the pumping at first.
When I had to do it myself, it ceased being fun."
To both, life
afloat was "a natural sort of evolution, since Dad was interested in
sailing." The elder Mosbacher, a successful independent producer of oil and
gas, with extensive real estate holdings in addition, loved sailing and gave
his sons every opportunity to excel. As youngsters, the Mosbachers owned a
succession of boats, which passed from the elder to the younger brother as some
families pass clothes. There was the shell, then a Comet, then a Star, which
both consider of great importance in their nautical education, especially in
developing feel to windward. Most helmsmen watch their sails almost constantly,
especially the luff of the jib. The Mosbachers agree they do not. "We were
so small when we started sailing Stars," Bob says, "that we couldn't
crick our necks to watch the sails. All we could go by was the angle of heel,
the look of the seas ahead and the water passing to leeward, with maybe an
occasional glance aloft."
"Actually," Bus says today, "watching the sails is only one of the
important factors which you must watch during a race. It's like a football
game: when a quarterback is running off a play he must know what all his other
team members are doing, not just the end to whom he's going to pass. Watching
only the jib is like watching only that one end.
"There are so
many it's during a race. If it's rough, you must watch the sea. If it's fluky,
you must watch for direction changes, keep an eye on the cat's-paws. You must
watch the balance of the boat and trim the sails. And all along you have
relative-motion problems particular to your own position. The scene is always
changing; every puff means something in relation to your opponent."
Mosbacher played an important role then not only as a provider of boats and an
encourager of sailing but as an active coach. He owned a power launch, and each
Saturday and Sunday followed the boys in their respective classes. As Bus
recalls it: "Whenever I saw the bow wave of my father's boat rise I knew I
had done something wrong. It meant he was leaving me to watch Bob. If he was
back a short time later it meant Bob had done something wrong."
In the evenings
after races Emil senior sat down with his sons to recapitulate the day's
events. Everything from starting maneuvers to spinnaker handling to turning
tactics came under discussion, and both boys learned there had to be a reason
for every move they had made.
sessions are still lively in both the brothers' memories. "Of course,"
Bus recalls today, "as often with father and son, Dad might become outraged
by our mistakes, but by the time we met for dinner he was usually fairly calm
and peaceful. I don't recall him ever blaming us for our mistakes. What he was
more apt to do was ask us why we made them. Why did it take two minutes to get
the spinnaker up, why did I tack at a certain point? At the same time, he was
most sparing with his compliments, and he could be very sharp. If we pulled a
really bad blunder we would arrange to have dinner with a friend. There were
one or two occasions when we even stayed away for the weekend."