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A storm in a calm over Tempest
Hugh Whall
April 04, 1966
England's new Olympic candidate challenges the aging Star class
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April 04, 1966

A Storm In A Calm Over Tempest

England's new Olympic candidate challenges the aging Star class

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The third race was postponed until late in the day in hopes that a breeze might finally come up. The crews fretted around the clubhouse drinking beer and Cokes. They were told a gun would signal departure from the dock for the starting line. "I reckon," said Oakeley, "it'll be like Le Mans: bang! and everyone jumps into their boats."

Bang went the gun at last—and so it was. Everyone jumped for his boat, and the fleet headed for the line once more. Running lazily downwind, the spinnakers in blue, white, red, flame, green, black and parti-color made the boats appear more like a collection of Christmas ornaments than a racing fleet. Notable, of course, for her lack of any spinnaker whatever, was the Star. Not surprisingly, she finished behind Tempest, which seemed to enjoy this doldrums kind of sailing.

Star won the next race in an eight-knot blow. Then Tempest beat the Star in the fifth. This final win gave Tempest the lead over Star in points, which proved to the Tempest crowd that theirs was the better boat. All it proved to Star people was that Tempest can sail fast in light air.

Whether or not the Tempest will ultimately replace the Star in Olympic ranks depends on a lot more than a freak compilation of racing points on Tampa Bay. True, no victory ever hurts a boat, and the O'Day Corporation which, along with Plas Trend and the Schock Co., plans to build and market the Tempest, probably doubled its bets after last week. They already have 54 orders on hand. But 54 Tempests, even when added to the hundreds ordered overseas, is a long way from 5,000 Stars. The new boat, as America's Cup Skipper and IYRU Committeeman Bob Bavier pointed out, must still prove its popularity throughout the world of Olympic yachtsmen. It must prove also that it can entice sailors as able as those who already campaign in Stars.

Tempest Skipper Oakeley is confident of the outcome. "By 1972," he said flatly, "the Star will be replaced." Star Skipper Richard Stearns did not actually sniff audibly, but what he said sounded like a sniff. "I thought," he said condescendingly, "that Tempest would be faster."

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