of course, denies the charge that his creation is an ugly duckling.
"Yachtsmen grow up with ideas of what a pretty boat looks like," he
argues, tapping his forehead, "but if you'd taken a 1939 vintage ocean
racer that we now consider handsome and plopped her into Newport Harbor 100
years ago sailors would undoubtedly have thought her a freak."
Tripp may or may
not be correct, but one thing is clear: until a better boat comes along, Ondine
is the one to beat. In her maiden event, the BA-Rio, with scant hours of
sailing to shake her down, she scored a grand slam. Even Long, sated with
winning on corrected time in his old Ondine, was pleasantly surprised by his
new boat's performance. Though her crew fought endless battles with thundering,
slippery hunks of Dacron, guillotine wire sheets and huge seas that washed
everlastingly over her bow, Ondine, performing like an America's Cup 12-meter,
finished first, broke the course record and, to complete her clean sweep, beat
a fleet of 32 crack ocean racers on handicap—an astonishing performance for a
highly handicapped Class A boat in an age when little boats, dribbling in days
later, win race after race thanks to a favorable rating rule.
In her next major
event, the Bermuda race, Ondine lacked favorable winds and fell far short of
lowering the course record but she was first boat to finish, a performance she
repeated in the long haul to Travem�nde despite again being bedeviled by
unusually fluky winds.
Refitted and with
her record for crossing finish lines first unblemished, Ondine is now headed
for Australia and her next challenge, the Sydney-Hobart. Where she will go
after that is anybody's guess, since it depends on the whim of a notoriously
capricious owner-skipper. One thing, however, is certain: wherever she goes she
will take with her a complement of rugged, often driven sailors, sailors who
sail for the love of the sport but who may occasionally—just
occasionally—indulge themselves in the happy dream of mutiny.