By the time
Sturrock and Tasmanian-born Auto Dealer Archie Robertson arrived in Newport in
1962 to bring the first Australian challenge, Jock had won a cockpit full of
titles in all classes and sizes of boats. The decision as to whether Jock or
Archie would take Gretel's helm was left until both had sailed her in American
waters, but there was no noticeable caviling when the choice fell on Sturrock.
Though Mosbacher and Weatherly beat him in four out of the five races sailed,
his win in the second race made him the first skipper to capture even one race
in a series since T.O.M. Sopwith in 1934. "I think we didn't do badly,"
said his shipmate, Robertson, "particularly when you compare our sail
number 1 to Weatherly's 17, showing how many 12s the Americans had built."
Sturrock's new command, Dame Pattie—Sail No. KA-2—is only the second 12 ever
built in Australia, while Intrepid is the 22nd built in the U.S.
Witnesses of the
1962 challenge spoke of some nautical backseat driving from the Australian
tender Sara—a certain amount of "Do this, Jock" and "Do that,
Jock" by walkie-talkie radio from an irrepressible enthusiast they named
Big Daddy. No skipper likes that, but it is something Sturrock prefers not to
discuss. In any event it will not be repeated. Sturrock has complete charge of
Dame Pattie. Two years ago the Pattie's syndicate chairman, Emil Christensen of
Petersville (Australia) Ltd., Melbourne, said firmly, "Sturrock will have
whatever he requires for the efficient operation of the challenge, and there
will be no interference by the committee at any stage."
One of the things
Sturrock will have was disclosed in Newport only last week. It is a "secret
weapon" in the form of a small computer, called "The Deblog," which
has been installed in Panic's cockpit. An invention of Australian Textile
Merchant Michael Debenham, the computer is fed information on wind direction
and strength, speed and course and puts this information together in seconds to
inform Sturrock of the degree of trim required for highest performance.
But a cup
contender needs more than a good helmsman and a secret weapon, and even a
master skipper can achieve little without a good crew. The syndicate left the
choice of personnel entirely to Sturrock. Nearly all of Dame Pattie's men are
open-boat sailors who learned the art in 12-footers and 18-footers. "I have
chosen 13," Sturrock said, "of whom three will be on the
tender—according to the weather or who needs rest or who may be hurt."
afterguard companions in the cockpit are Boatbuilder-skippers Billy Barnett and
Norman Wright (the only Queenslander) and Holden Auto Dealer Norman Booth (the
skipper who beat 55 Dragons on the Clyde in 1959, despite perishing cold, and
was runner-up in the Gold Cup series at Naples in 1960).
A better brain
trust would be hard to find. Peter (Pod) O'Donnell, 28, hailed as the world's
best forward hand, won a trophy as the best all-round crew member in the 1962
challenge races and handled foresheets for Bill Northam on the 5.5-meter
Barranjoey, gold-medal winner at the Tokyo Games 1964. Pod, who looks
indestructible, tops 14 stone, as do 6-footers John Freedman, 31, and Andrew
White, 29, Richard Dickson, 29, weighs 15 stone, Bob Thornton, 26, 13 stone,
and the giant of the crew is 23-year-old winchman Dr. Michael Green-away,
6'5" and 16 stone.
Scholfield, 23, a 12½-stone Sydney shipwright, and Melbourne foredeckman Ed
Beacham, 21, sailed with the Dame Pattie on the freighter Cap Ortegal to look
after her on the trip. Beacham is the youngest and one of the three
lightweights. He and Tony Ellis weigh 11½ stone. Smallest is nimble Melbourne
foredeckman John Taylor, 29, only 5'6" and 11 stone.
it an advantage that the average age of foredeckmen, waist-men and winchmen is
only 26. With six of them between 13 and 16 stone, Dame Pattie's Australians
will look a larger species than the American crewmen, if Mosbacher has a crew
similar to the successful defenders in 1962. By contrast with Gretel's
Australians at that time, Weatherly's men were called Mosbacher's Midgets.
pays for the crew's flights to and from the U.S., lodges and feeds them in
Newport for 10 weeks. But none are compensated for loss of income. They know
the challenge calls for sacrifices. Since October they have been away from home
almost every weekend and often other times as well, and anyone unable to make
these sacrifices simply cannot be in it.
A home skipper's
familiarity with local weather vagaries gives him an edge, though sneaky wind
shifts caused by bays and promontories are not a problem in 12-meter sailing on
the Atlantic at least seven miles offshore. But Sturrock's angle on this is:
"From sweating out the 1962 challenge, plus a visit in 1964 to see
Constellation race Sovereign, I have a better idea what to expect. U.S.
forecasting is pretty accurate, because the wind mainly comes off the land. The
Coast Guard goes to much trouble to give maximum information. Newport is not as
subject to tide and current. The swell seems regular and the breeze more
constant in strength and direction. I'd estimate an 18-knot wind in a southeast
swell off Sydney heads to be the equivalent of 25 knots at Newport."