As for the
"professional" amateur: The sailor who best fits the description is
Menkart. One of his Bacardi opponents, Peter Costa, says, "Andrew's
exceptional in his devotion to the sport. He's at it morning, noon and night,
24 hours a day. If he's not out on the water, he's working on his boat. Other
racers may be dedicated, but Menkart eats, sleeps and breathes the sport.
Andrew is obsessed with sailing."
sailing at seven, in a Sea Snark—what he calls "a little bathtub." He
won the Sears Cup, as the best American junior, in 1976, and in 1978 he was the
youth world champion. That year he also won the overall North America Laser
title. In '79 he placed third in the Laser worlds, and in '80 he was selected
as the Olympic alternate in the Finn class.
At that point he
was attending Tufts, which he picked largely because he wanted to work with
that school's sailing coach, Joe Duplin, a former Star world champion.
Menkart's studies in civil engineering fed his passion for sailing. Courses in
fluid mechanics, conversations with professors on structural design and hours
spent in the library all added up to an understanding of how boats and sails
first got into Star racing 2� years ago, he began designing his own boats.
Since then he has gone through six Stars, changing, sharpening, perfecting.
Last summer, when he went to Europe to coach and sail, he worked with
boatbuilders in the little town of Musso, in northern Italy, to come up with
the best possible structure for his craft—sail number 6910—within the narrow
specifications of the Star class, and he now oversees the manufacture of his
sails as well.
Menkart is the
mathematician that Melges isn't. Menkart shaves seconds off his time through
precise calculation. "I don't think I have a natural ability to steer
well," he says, "so I have to put more mental energy into it. There are
a lot of variables in Star sailing, more than in most classes. You have to
eliminate as many as possible. The more you can learn, the better off you are.
I do spend more time than average working, troubleshooting, training. I guess
my strength is thoroughness."
currently gearing up for the 1984 Olympics in Stars, and of course he has a
plan. "I've spent a good deal of time in the past two years learning how to
construct, rig and set up a Star," he says. "Now I'm going to spend
more time actually sailing. I still have a lot to learn about how to handle a
boat better. And I'm going to start a conditioning program again." This
will include Nautilus weight-training, push-ups, sit-ups and running. But
luckily for Menkart, the president of the New Jersey marine transportation
company for which he-works is himself a sailor and gives Menkart time off to
So far, his
Olympic preparation is on schedule. He won the 1981 North American championship
in his first year in the Star class and the Western Hemisphere championship in
1982. By the middle of the 1983 Bacardi Cup, a major indicator of Olympic
potential, he was in the thick of the competition, battling Melges, Danish
sailor Jens Christensen and three-time North American champion Peter
Day 3 on Biscayne
Bay came up gray and soggy. There was a light drizzle, and the wind kept
swinging through 40-de-gree shifts. At the race's halfway point, it began
blowing hard, gusting to 45 knots. A small-craft advisory was announced, but
the race still had 3� legs to go. Boats started taking on water; several masts
snapped. A few boats were swamped, and two actually sank. But Menkart plowed
through the heavy weather to a second behind Christensen, with Melges
For Melges the
race was tailor-made to show off a technique for which he is renowned—sailing
"around" waves when the wind picks up. Says Dane, "He keeps going
fast and feathers off the waves—just aims around them—when everyone else is
slowing up." Even so, on this day he could not beat Menkart.
preparation paid off again. He had been betting on the heavy weather and was
ready, both in gear and mental attitude. "He always has the right
equipment," says crewman Jim Kavle, "and he's so good at the analytical
side of sailing—sizing up the sails, staying calm, keeping his head