Sunfish Worlds 1977 report

On Sunday afternoon, January 30, as we stepped out of the plane into the tropical climes of Nassau, leaving all the cold and slush of New York City behind, we immediately began to melt into the warm festive blend of Bahamian life. We were here for the Eighth Annual World Sunfish Sailing Championship and it was going to be a week jammed with activities: six races, banquets, seeing old friends, great weather, and fun.
The regatta was co-hosted by the Royal Nassau Sailing Club and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Their superb planning in getting excellent judges, arranging the six-race circuit, and interspersing other festivities throughout the week made the whole show run amazingly smoothly. All the Sunfish were provided by AMF Alcort who made every possible effort to insure that each racer had what he or she needed.
This year three former world champions, Pierre Siegenthaler, Ted Moore, and Paul Fendler, were back, hoping to reclaim the title. Eighty-six contestants in all, hailing from 14 countries, were here for the same thing—to win. A promise of keen competition was imminent.
Monday began the race week activities with a practice race. Everyone seemed to be having a great time out there, though anxious to see how each would measure up in the waters of Montagu Bay.
The course was an Olympic one, and the scoring was also based on the Olympic system. Pierre Siegenthaler, a Bahamian and favorite with home advantage, won the practice race, but no one took this as any significant indication. It was only practice and still anyone’s contest.
Following the warm-up race, Bacardi gave the welcoming cocktail party, complete with police marching band, speechmaking, camera snapping, flag raising, and plenty of rum flowing. The regatta was officially under way.
Tuesday dawned sunny and with light air. The carefree racers of Monday seemed a bit more serious—nervous silence was the mood. The first gun went off promptly at 0950 and what followed was insane. The silence was broken in many different languages and the push for line position was a real scrapper’s delight. At 1000 the orderly red, yellow, and orange Dacron line broke apart as the fleet beat toward the windward mark.
Joel Furman from the United States won the first race, which finished about noon and at 1400 the racers were back out on the course. The wind had freshened, so the racing would be entirely different. Steve Holdeman from the U.S. won the second race followed by Pierre Siegenthaler.
The remaining races each differed in style due to the wind and current conditions. There seemed to be only one constant: Pierre Siegenthaler. He was either first, second, or third in every race except the first, his throw out race. So it’s not surprising he won with one of the lowest scores ever—11.7 points—compared to second place finisher John Dunkley, a fellow Bahamian, who totaled up 66.0 points. Pierre truly won hands down, probably the most decisive victory yet witnessed in the history of the Sunfish World Championships.
The week was topped with a cocktail party at the Balmoral Beach Hotel, given by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and was followed by the awards dinner. Awards were given to the top ten finishers.
As the race week culminated, everyone seemed to be wound down, a lot more relaxed, and satisfied. It had been a rigorous challenge. Though the mood was subdued, aspirations were not—we even heard mumblings about next years plans and hopes—already!

Sunfish Worlds 1978

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