SI Vault
August 12, 1963
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August 12, 1963


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The boy wonder of the Indianapolis "500" is Jack Zink, a Tulsan who has sent cars to the Brickyard since 1950, has won it twice and in 1962 introduced the first gas-turbine entry. His achievements at Indianapolis have been backed by racing-car equipment and tools worth somewhere around $6 million. His drive has been to produce machines that will whirl around the brick oval at 150 mph or better.

Now something has happened to Zink. He is concerned with the calibration of speed differences of as little as one-tenth of a knot. He has taken up sailboating.

In his new hobby Sailor Zink discovered early that it is difficult to judge the minute speed differentials that win sailboat races. His sailboat had neither throttle nor speedometer. Astute trimming of sails, adjusting the centerboard and such can trim seconds and win races but, aboard a vessel like his Lightning class sloop and at speeds that often approximate a mere three knots, the determination of what maneuver is best in a given situation can be most subtle. Traditionally, the best combination of ingredients has been arrived at by arduously achieved compounds derived from trial and error.

Zink seems to be changing all that. He has invented a gadget that gauges the relative increase or decrease in speed resulting from any maneuver. The contraption consists of a slim steel tube, a movable spring within the tube, a plastic red-and-white fishing bobber and a length of line sufficient to drag the contrivance well beyond the turbulence of the wake, which would foul up his readings. The whole thing cost him, maybe, a dollar.

The plastic bobber is drilled with eight holes, four on a side, so that water can pass through. With this water flow the filled bobber has exactly the density of water. Trimming the sails shows whether you get more distance for a given maneuver, or less. The device does not show how fast you are going but whether, by a certain experiment, you have gained or lost speed.

Last weekend, sailing his Lightning Jayzee on Oklahoma's Grand Lake, Zink won his first race.


With a good day's salmon fishing behind him, Leslie Douglas, who had been fishing off California's Humboldt Bay bar, was in an amiable mood. He drew alongside another boat and said," Have some. I've got too many."

He had, in fact, two too many. The California limit is three. Douglas had five. The other fisherman was Harold Carling, fish and game warden.

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