SI Vault
Carleton Mitchell
June 11, 1962
The gray-green water off Marblehead, although still retaining the stored cold of winter, sparkled in the spring sunshine. Wispy hooks and streamers of cloud patterned the sky. Floats of lobster pots drifted with the current. Ashore, above rocks worn smooth by countless past gales, a lighthouse stood on the point overlooking the harbor.
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June 11, 1962

A Cup Boat Defies Convention

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Elimination of excess weight became the special care of Co-helmsman McNamara. As he points out, The laminated frames have been rounded to the minimum requirements of the rule. Bolt heads were cut off flush—we carried out 30 pounds of scrap. There aren't any doors on the galley cupboards because the rule doesn't say you have to have them." Below, Nefertiti is as bare as a well-chewed bone, the lightest boat of the quartet—-57,500 pounds against a reputed 59,200 for Columbia .

This same ingenuity extends throughout the design and construction. The deck has been given the maximum crown allowed by the rule, and as mast height is taken from the deck those few extra inches are added free to the sail plan. Ditto a slight kickup to the bow. Three hollow compartments covered by bronze plates were cast into the keel, so extra lead trimming ballast could be added down deep, if needed.

All these innovations add up to a harmonious whole. Nefertiti has graceful ends and a pleasing profile. About her there is a look of power, a result of the effort to produce a boat that will be at her best when September winds freshen above 12 knots. Always in Ted Hood"s mind were memories of Columbia walking away from Vim in the stronger winds of the final trials. In fact, everything about Nefertiti is well expressed in Don McNamara's description: "She is a gutsy cutter and not a delicate sloop."

Competitively, Nefertiti will begin with the advantage of Designer Hood aboard to supervise tuning, carrying sails woven, cut and built by Sailmaker Hood. Not only has the Hood loft produced more sails for 12s than any other, but the Shields clan paid Ted the compliment of ordering additional sails for Columbia the day after it was announced he would design a rival candidate.

Meanwhile, there have been so many alterations to Columbia , and the other boats, including switches in crews and skippers, that there is truth in the remark by Easterner's, owner, Chandler Hovey: "With all the changes all of us start out even again."

Columbia , in the forthcoming trial races, will have as skipper 28-year-old Cornelius (Glit) Shields Jr., who grew up racing small class boats, but last summer got the feel of 12-meter competition. At his side there will be the formidable presence of Designer Olin Stephens, a veteran of the past two cup defenses. Husky winch pumpers are available in depth, while Glit's father, Corny, and his uncle, Paul Shields, will always be on hand, watching from a launch or sailing Nyala, the trial horse.

As for the boat itself, on the basis of tank tests conducted by Olin Stephens during the past two years, Columbia has had her lead keel reshaped into a finer section, which Glit Shields describes as "like the bottom part of a seaplane pontoon, sharp forward and the V shape carried aft." A new mast has been stepped—the spare from earlier campaigns—which is slightly stronger aloft. Deck layout has been altered for more efficiency, and new winches added. Sails in use are mostly by Hood, and "we will still go to Ted." Until proven otherwise, Columbia must still be considered the fastest 12-meter yacht in the world.

Easterner, the "if only" goat of the last trials, looks like she will again be unable to prove her full potential. Early in the season it was announced that Designer Ray Hunt and George O'Day, Olympic Gold Medal winner in 5.5s and holder of many other titles, would jointly be in full charge throughout the campaign. Owner Hovey, 82, was reported willing to retire from participation, along with various members of his clan ranging through grandchildren. Now it appears that the Hoveys will be back in force, with the same frugal policy of expenditures for sails and other gear. As dean of active American yachtsmen, Chandler Hovey harks back to the '30s aboard the J-class sloops Weetamoe, Rainbow and Yankee, when there was less emphasis on equipment and yachting was a more leisurely sport. While it is his privilege to resist the undoubted overemphasis in modern racing, and put family fun ahead of efficiency, it isn't a philosophy likely to gain Easterner the coveted role of defender.

However, alterations are being made to the hull and rig of Easterner, which might increase her speed through the water, already impressive on occasion. Interior weight has been removed and returned as ballast. Following exactly the opposite path from Nefertiti and Columbia , Designer Hunt is widening the lead keel over seven inches by means of a synthetic putty. The rudder has been streamlined into the keel, and the mast has been shifted aft 18 inches.

The greatest change in Weatherly will be above decks, in the crew, although she, too, will have a new keel form. The new skipper will be Emil (Bus) Mosbacher Jr., master tactician of Vim when she almost upset Columbia . He was further sharpened by experience aboard Easterner during '61, which came alive under his touch to win the first races of her career (SI, July 17, 1961). Bus has brought along from Vim the Matthews family, Don as alternate helmsman, Dick as navigator, and father Jack as adviser and expediter. In charge of the foredeck will be Vic Romagna, who was accorded the unique tribute of being aboard Columbia for the cup matches after sailing the trials on Weatherly.

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