While the Class sailors were scrambling through weeks of local and regional eliminations, two big, graceful sloops were being preened for their July 19 match-race series on Lake Ontario. They were competing for the Canada's Cup, often referred to as "The America's Cup of the Lakes." Defending for Rochester Yacht Club was Herbert Wahl's eight-meter Iskareen, sailed by Howard Klitgord. Challenging for Canada was the eight-meter Venture II, owned by Norman Walsh and skippered by David Howard. Iskareen won the first race, but then Venture copped the next three to take the Canada's Cup back home after 50 long years.
In spite of the important and highly organized class championships and special regattas, yachting until 1952 was one of the few sports which failed to name an all-class champion. Finally the North American Yacht Racing Union organized a North American Sailing championship open to sailors of all the classes. The finals were to be sailed in different types of boats each year, with the host club supplying the boats which were to be rotated after each race so that every skipper sailed one. The winner would get the Clifford D. Mallory Cup, already one of the most prized of all sailing trophies.
After veteran Corny Shields won the first title in 1952, an unknown 18-year-old?Eugene Walet III of New Orleans?turned the trick in 1953. This year Walet survived 26 elimination races to reach the finals. Once there he mowed down an entirely different group of finalists than he beat the year before, to remain the North American Sailing champion.
Women and juniors have had their own all-class champions for years. Allegra Knapp Mertz, who took her first all-class in 1951, came back this year to win the Adams Cup and again take her place as the best woman sailor in the country. The Sears Cup races to determine the best junior (under 18) sailor in North America was won this year by Harry Jemmett of the Kingston (Ontario) Yacht Club?the first time a Canadian had ever taken the top junior trophy.
For many, the best season in years ended on a tragic note when hurricanes Carol and Edna swept up the East Coast onto jammed yacht club basins from Hatteras to Maine, sinking or damaging boats of all sizes, famous and obscure (SI, Sept. 27). But with the winter ahead for overhaul, sailors this week were already hard at work on dry land (see SI, Oct. 11) preparing for an even bigger and better season in 1955.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]