Big business had another time of triumph last week, the occasion being the award presentations following the longest, hardest, most exciting ocean races of the year. It was almost like the turn of the century, when the old robber barons matched yacht against yacht, and threw tremendous postrace parties for the purpose of giving each other homely pieces of silverware. The difference was that last week, the baron had lost some of his baronial glitter. He now had become a businessman sailor, whose boat and postrace entertainment, while still quite handsome, were on a far more modest, tax-reduced scale than those of the late railroad period.
There was a difference, too, in the way some of last week's winners went about their yachting. Most noticeably absent were the platoons of paid hands that used to maintain in isolated splendor the towering sloops of the 1900s.
For example, when Richard Nye first filed his entry for the recent Newport, R.I. to Sweden race, he didn't even have a boat. He had one a building in a yard in Hamburg, Germany, a 53�-foot yawl to be called Carina; but as race time drew near, there was a reasonable doubt whether the stocky Wall Street broker, whose square chin and sturdy strut make him look more like an old minor league catcher, would ever get to the starting line.
A month before the race, Carina was still an unfinished hull in Hamburg. Two weeks later, on May 27, she finally arrived in New York on a freighter. With only 14 days to go, Carina was at Kretzer's yard on City Island, her interior still unfinished, much of the equipment not yet installed, and her rigging not yet made.
Somehow everything got done. With Nye, a short cigar clamped between his teeth, scurrying around to check various items as they were installed, Carina slowly became a boat. Six days before the race her sails were bent on for the first time and then she headed for Newport.
The crew was almost as green as the ship. They averaged only 24 years, and the navigator, 24-year-old Bill Gray, had never before navigated in a race. But as Carina plunged across the starting line, along with the six other entries, she had the look of a solid racer that could take plenty of salt water under her keel.
An hour after the start, however, Carina lost sight of the rest of the fleet; and the next day things started to happen. With a loud crack one of the two big spinnakers blew into tatters. A few hours later the other big parachute split; and Carina had to lose time running under her small spinnaker while the crew laboriously mended the tear.
UP THE MAST
As Carina moved farther into the North Atlantic the weather got worse. The wind rose until it hit 70 mph. Waves built up to 20 feet, and one comber, crashing aboard, stove in the ventilator of the main dining room. In the middle of all this the toilet broke down. And a little later, a halyard parted. With Carina plunging like a sea lion in the North Atlantic swells, Navigator Gray climbed the mast three different times trying to free the line.
Eighteen days out of Newport with Sweden almost in sight, the wind dropped from gale force to practically nothing, and Carina limped along in the Skagerrak for two days, her crew bored to death, certain they had lost the race. Twenty days out they picked up some light air, and before dawn on July 2, Carina slipped across the finish line at Marstrand, Sweden. A reception boat full of officials of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club motored out to meet the American yawl.