The Mallory Cup is a satiny old tureen that once contained Lord Nelson's soup, but for the last 20 years it has been awarded to the outstanding individual sailor in North America. It has been won by the legendary Shieldses, both father and son, by Buddy Melges, Ted Hood and George O'Day, and last year by Dr. John Jennings of St. Petersburg, Fla. Establishment chaps all, men who sip, not gulp, their Scotch, and go to bed with the sea gulls on the eve of important races.
That's the way it used to be. Last week was something else for Skipper John Kolius and crewmen Bill Hunt and Scott Self of the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club. They blew into South Dartmouth, Mass., hard by the New Bedford home port of Captain Ahab, like a backlash from Tropical Storm Doria and did not blow out again until they had shown the folks how to win Texas style.
Kolius and seven other skippers arrived in South Dartmouth after surviving regional elimination trials, and they climbed into boats as nearly identical as it is possible to make them. This year Rhodes 19 sloops were selected as weapons. They varied only in hull and spinnaker hues, ranging from meridian blue to fern green, and as is the rule in this competition they were rotated among the contenders so that each crew had a different boat for each of the eight races. The thought behind the Mallory is to reward sailing skill alone.
After seven races, though, the most skillful sailors seemed to be Graham Hall, representing the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound, and Runyon Colie Jr. of the North Jersey Yacht Racing Association. Hall led Co-lie by a mere quarter-point while Kolius, who had won two of the first three races before falling on hard times, lay third. In the Mallory scoring his deficit to Hall was a formidable 1� points.
Hall had won the cup two years before but had missed out in 1970 when his heavyweight crew bogged him down in the calms that prevailed during eliminations. This year he chose an ultralight crew and made it all the way to the finals. Lightest and sprightliest was Mary Jane Cox, a young woman who cocked her head Doris Day style, set the spinnaker snappily and hiked out her 105 pounds as if she were throwing them away. Although her husband is a champion Long Island Sound sailor in his own right, he was a mere spectator during the week. It seems Ed Cox is too heavy to suit Graham Hall's current specifications. On the other hand, a woman champion who might have been aboard Runyon Colie's boats, Mrs. Jan O'Malley, was off in Maine defending her North American women's title in the Adams Cup while her husband Ed crewed for Colie. At 55, Philadelphia's Colie was the oldest salt around, a man who had tried for the Mallory so often that he had lost count of the times.
As the series opened last Monday with three eight-mile races on Buzzards Bay, a haze lay on the water and the wind was moderate but with a promise of a smoky sou'wester to come as the sun arched higher. Kolius outsailed the fleet in the first race, salvaged a fourth place in the second and came back in the third to win again, the wind now gusting in at 15 to 20 knots. In the third race the week's big three finished in precisely the order they would complete the series, Hall breezing in second, Colie third.
Tuesday and Wednesday brought two races apiece, and now the Texans began to fade a bit, going 3-3-5-5 against the 1-4-4-1 of Hall and the 2-2-1-2 of Colie. It was Hall's kind of weather, without much heft in the wind, making his choice of Mary Jane look prophetic.
So now we come to the leaders on the night before the decisive eighth race. Hall hits the sack early, Colie swallows a highball or two and follows suit. Kolius & Co., however, gather up three comely dates and hit the shore. "They're no good," said a hostess at the New Bedford Yacht Club cheerfully. "They keep grabbing at you and saying things like 'Y'all dig this?' and 'Y'all dig that?' They think they're very, very loose!" Said another: "They wanted me to go karting with them the other night, but my father happened to see them drive their rented car down the street backwards and he said no way." Truth of the matter was that the Texans had behaved with reasonable decorum all week and now were in a mood to let off some steam.
"Marvelous young men," said a mother of five wistfully.
Ultimately Kolius & Co. get to their borrowed house and at midnight the party is still making as much noise as Nelson's guns at Trafalgar. Kolius, a lad of 20, lets out a rebel yell fit to rouse every Yankee in South Dartmouth.