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Fiddler's green

Jan 1, 2003


America's Cup Skipper and

OpSail Chairman

Two-time America's Cup winner Emil "Bus" Mosbacher, Jr., died August 13, 1997, at the age of 75. Raised on Long Island Sound, where he was an eight-time International One Design champion in the 1950s, Mosbacher skippered the 12-meter Weatherly to victory over Australia's first Cup challenger, Gretel, in 1962. Two challenges and five years later, Mosbacher was at the helm of the Intrepid when she swept Australia's Dame Pattie in four races. The opposing helmsman in both series was Jock Sturrock, who also died this year. (In 1970 the same Intrepid also defeated the Australian challenger Dame Pattie II.)

Perhaps Mosbacher's greatest achievement was his work as chairman of Operation Sail 1976 to commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial in New York Harbor. The success of that event, the greatest tall ship parade held to that time, together with smaller parades of sail at other ports in North America and the Caribbean, did much to awaken interest in the preservation of historic ships and the skills associated with it.

Following service in World War II, Mosbacher worked for his family's natural gas and real estate business. He was President Richard Nixon's chief of protocol from 1969 to 1972. His brother Robert Mosbacher served as Secretary of Commerce in the Bush administration.



Australian yachtsman

Alexander Stuart "Jock" Sturrock, MBE, who in 1962 skippered Gretel, Australia's first challenger for the America's Cup, died on July 10, 1997, in Noosa, Queensland; he was 82. The first Australian Olympic sailing medalist, Sturrock was Australia's preeminent yachtsman from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. Although Gretel failed to win the Cup in 1962, in that series Sturrock was the first skipper to win a race against an American defender in post-World War II Cup competition. Five years later he was also at the helm of Dame Pattie in Australia's second challenge for the Cup.

Competing in four Olympics between 1948 and 1962, Sturrock and Perth sailor Rolly Tasker took home a bronze medal in the 5.5 meter class yacht at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Sturrock was also an eight-time Australian national champion in the International Star class, and three times in the International Dragon class. He also participated in the Great Circle Race around Tasmania and the Sydney-to-Hobart race, and sailed for Australia in the Admiral's Cup in England and the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii. Sturrock was named Australian of the Year in 1993.


Japan's leading yachtsman,

America's Cup challenger

Makoto Namba was lost overboard on April 23, 1997, on the second leg of the Hong Kong-Osaka yacht race aboard the Corel 45 Escape-One. Best known in the U.S. for his role as skipper of the Nippon America's Cup challenges in 1992 and 1995, the 46-year-old Namba was remembered as a great sailor, an exemplary competitor, and one of the most avid promoters of sailing in Japan.

Namba was washed overboard at dusk when a 20-foot wave hit his boat. He had just gone off watch and removed his lifejacket as he prepared to go below. Japanese Maritime Safety Agency patrols searched the area 30 miles off the Muroto Peninsula in Kochi Prefecture for 72 hours but were unable to recover his body. The Hong Kong-Osaka "Sail Osaka '97 Race," was organized to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Osaka port. Built in the U.S. in 1997, the 13.9-meter Escape-One sailed with a crew of 12. Namba is survived by his wife, Mikiko, and a 16-year-old son, Gaku.


Inventor and designer

Swedish-American yacht designer and inventor Lars Bergstrom died when a small airplane of his own design crashed near his home in Sarasota, Fla.; he was 62. Trained as an aeronautical engineer, he was best known for his work as a designer or co-designer of BOC yachts including Cornwall, Hunter's Child, and Thursday's Child. In 1988-'89, Bergstrom, Warren Luhrs, and Courtney Hazelton crewed Thursday's Child on the first Cape Horn passage between New York and San Francisco to better the time set by the American clipper ship Flying Cloud in 1854. Despite a four-day stop for repairs in the Falkland Islands, Thursday's Child completed her run in 80 days, 20 hours, nine days faster than Flying Cloud.

In addition to his work on boats and planes, Bergstrom also designed the Windex masthead apparent wind direction indicator and, with Sven Ridder, the BandR rig that uses swept back spreaders and no backstay.


Oceanographer, environmentalist, and humanitarian

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, pioneering underwater researcher and environmentalist died in Paris of respiratory illness on June 25, 1997, at the age of 87. After World War II service in the French Resistance as a spy, for which he was awarded the Legion d'Honneur, Cousteau helped found the French Navy's Undersea Research Group in 1945. Shortly thereafter he was granted leave to refine the Aqua-Lung, later known as the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus or SCUBA, which he had developed in 1943 with engineer Emile Gagnan. In 1948, Cousteau purchased the Calypso, a 139-foot U.S.-built minesweeper that had been put into service as a commercial ferry between Malta and Italy following the war.

Cousteau and his crews pioneered a wide variety of techniques to explore the "silent kingdom" of the world's oceans, coastal waters, and rivers. Their innumerable discoveries focused world attention on the variety and fragility of the world's ocean environment and that of the surrounding littoral. In the course of 46 years, Cousteau worked in the Mediterranean and the coasts of Africa, North and South America, Oceania, the East Indies, and Antarctica. Calypso carried state-of-the-art equipment including one- and two-person minisubs, diving saucers, and underwater scooters, many developed by Calypso's crew.

Cousteau's work gained international renown and support through the Monaco-based, non-profit Cousteau Society, which disseminated the results of his research through periodicals, books, and documentaries. The first of these, The Silent World, took four years to film, and in 1957 Cousteau and his young co-director, Louis Malle, won the Cannes Film Festival's Golden Palm. This was followed by Beneath the Frozen World (about Antarctica), Rediscovery of the World (about the islands of the western Pacific), and more than 60 other documentaries, including the 1960s television series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

Cousteau's death came only six months after the Calypso was sunk by a drifting barge at Singapore. Plans were already on the boards for a replacement vessel. Calypso II will have a 218-foot hull, monohull forward and catamaran aft, and will be powered by Voith Schneider cycloidal drives and an 85-foot-high Turbovoile, a type of rotor cylinder. The Cousteau Society has vowed to continue the work of its founder.


Yachtsman, engineer, and industrialist

Richard Clark McCurdy, developer of the International Measurement System for yachting, died December 4, 1997, at the age of 88. An engineer by training, McCurdy served as president of Shell Oil Company from 1964 to 1975, during which time he transformed the company into one of the leaders in petroleum research and development. After leaving Shell, he worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and helped chart that agency's course in the wake of the massive budget cutbacks following the moon landing program. A dedicated blue-water sailor, McCurdy helped devise the International Measurement System to help handicap yachts so that vessels of different sizes and design could compete together in offshore racing.


Yachting Monthly Editor

Geoff Pack, acclaimed editor of the British magazine Yachting Monthly, died May 28, 1997, of cancer at the age of 39. An accomplished blue-water sailor, Pack brought a lifetime of practical experience to his duties as editor, including several transatlantic passages made with his family. Pack was the father of four young children.

He was author of Blue Water Countdown, a guide to voyage preparation.


Veteran yachtsman

Robert Kenneth Robson, an accomplished yachtsman and long-time member of the Cruising Club of America (CCA), died September 17, 1997. A Maryland resident since 1951, he was 77 years old.

Robson started his sailing career in the competitive yachting world of Long Island Sound in the 1930s and '40s. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and became a pilot. Robson pioneered a number of air routes between the U.S., Brazil, and Africa, flying aircraft under America's Lend-Lease program.

Following World War II, Robson crewed extensively on CCA yachts such as Carlton Mitchell's Caribee, Hank DuPont's Cyane, and Newbold Smith's Reindeer.

He also sailed in many competitions on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Bermuda, Fastnet, Admiral's Cup, Southern Circuit, Annapolis-Newport, Marblehead-Halifax, and Transatlantic races.

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