Int. 5.5 m
Chaje II L-24
Charlie Brown S-42
Chaje II GER-28
Design: Raymont Hunt
Builder: Oy Vator AB Finnland 1963
9,58 x 1,91 m
Victory by Design (Time Magazine - 1963)
They came from all over: a mill hand from Leningrad, a crown prince from Oslo, an oilman from Houston—some of the best small-boat sailors in the world. Two were former world champions, four were Olympic gold medalists, five had won the Scandinavian Gold Cup. For seven days, on the wind-lashed waters of Long Island Sound, they battled for the world's 5.5-meter sailing championship. And when the contest ended last week, they sadly packed their sail bags and left the championship to C. Raymond Hunt, 55, a bespectacled grandfather from Tilton, N.H., who had never before sailed a 5.5-meter in international competition.
Though he was once regarded as a topflight Marblehead helmsman, Hunt now does most of his sailing on a designer's drawing board. He helped pioneer the popular International 110 and 210 classes, developed the ultra-highspeed (50 m.p.h.) "Moppie" powerboat hull, designed the 5.5-meter Minotaur that Massachusetts Yachtsman George O'Day sailed to victory in the 1960 Olympics. Hunt showed up at the world championship to try out his latest 5.5, Chaje II, built by Finnish Shipbuilder Jussi Nemes. The two planned to race her together. But Nemes had to rush home at the last minute—his shipyard had burned to the ground—and he asked Hunt to take over.
(Picture right: C. Raymond Hunt -1908-78)
$20,000 for Speed.
Like a Grand Prix car, a 5.5-meter sailboat is a specialized piece of handiwork, designed for speed, not for family fun. The 5.5s range from 28 ft. to 35 ft. in length, must conform to a complicated formula that requires each "plus" (larger sail area) to be balanced by a "minus" (heavier weight). Built in the U.S., a 5.5-meter hull costs about $15,000; designer's fees, tank tests and sails boost the bill another $5,000 or more. Running before the wind, under an 800-sq.-ft. spinnaker, a 5.5-meter can skim along at 8 knots. But a sailor is well advised to take along a reliable Mae West and a strong Australian crawl. "You've got to be rugged," says one skipper.
Unpredictable weather conditions helped make last week's championship a sailor's nightmare. One early race had to be postponed for lack of wind, but by the end of the seven-race series, swells were running 10 ft. high, and a 30-m.p.h. easterly buffeted the 34-boat fleet. "Are you sure we're in the right place?" asked one skipper. "This looks like the North Atlantic."
Computers & Jumpers.
Contestants raced around a six-leg, 10¾-mile course, won points according to the Olympics scoring system, so involved that Texas' Albert Fay complained, "You need a dadgum computer to find out where you stand. " Olympic Champion O'Day won one race, was disqualified in the next when he failed to hear the recall horn after a false start, wound up a woeful twelfth in the competition. Norway's Crown Prince Harald was so eager that he beat the gun in the last race, thus costing himself a chance for second place overall instead of eighth.
It took Hunt only one afternoon to get the feel of Chaje II. He finished eighth in the first race and then, reading the heavy weather like an oldtime clipper captain, proceeded to sail away from the rest of the fleet. He won two of the next four races, placed third twice, was so far ahead after five races that he sat out the sixth. "Why take a chance," he explained. "It was really nasty out there." On the last day, playing it cozy, Hunt finished a casual eleventh, and still coasted back to his berth with a huge 900-point lead over Runner-Up Lars Thorn of Sweden.