50e Sunfish Worlds

Afgelopen week is het 50e WK Sunfish gezeild bij Sarasota Sailing Squadron (aan de westkant van Florida). Het weer ging alle kanten op: op maandag een beste deuk wind (met zeer veel materiaal pech tot gevolg), op dinsdag weinig wind, op woensdag geen wind (en dus geen zeilen), op donderdag onweer (en dus geen zeilen) en op vrijdag gelukkig weer een zeilbare wind. Er waren 100 deelnemers uit 11 landen, waaronder 7 van Bonaire en 3 van Curacao.

Voor Jonathan Martinetti (ECU) maakte dat niet uit, hij zeilde naar een schitterende serie: 2-1-3-1-2-1-2-2-3-2-(26) . Hiermee werd Jonathan voor de 2e maal Sunfish Wereldkampioen na 2010 Italie. In 2009 (Bahamas) was hij de Jeugd wereldkampioen.

Volgend jaar september is het WK in Italie op het Garda Meer. Het is nog niet bekend of de World Masters er voor of er na vallen.

In 2023 zal Ecuador het WK organiseren. Voor 2024 zijn Rush Creek (USA. TX), Bonaire (!) en de US Maagdeneilanden genoemd.

Dit WK was uiteraard DE gelegenheid om te zoeken en vragen naar oude foto/film materiaal. Het allermooiste wat dat opgeleverd heeft is toch wel een geweldige filmpje (zie Youtube) vande 1e WK in 1970 op de Maagdeneilanden. Voorts zijn flink wat dia’s gedigitaliseerd (waarbij iemand niet heeft zitten opletten en dus zijn ze bijna allemaal in spiegelbeeld). Maar ook voor veel andere jaren ontving ik van alle kanten materiaal (Gijs-Willem van Omme, Alex Roose, Jurgen Schneider, Geert van Stokkum, Eduardo Cordero (!), Carl Knight (!!), Lee Parks, Paul Odegard, Paul Fendler, Gert-Jan Zeestraten, Steve Caulfield, Rich Chapman: BEDANKT!).

Het uitpluizen van de 1e WK stond daarna hoog op mijn lijstje. Wonderbaar hoeveel je met wat digitale research op internet kan terug vinden. Ik kopieer mijn Engelstalige Facebook teksten:

This is HEATHER KLEIN (VIR), The 1970 (1st) Sunfish Worlds Top woman! This photo entered instantaneously in my personal top 10 Sunfish photos. The hat contributes to that!

The sail is rather special: it is an Emilio Pucci design which she won with her first place. I could not find more info except 1 remark about its development.

Heathers husband Ken took 4th place at the 1st Worlds. So that’s another first: husband-wife at the same Worlds. Originally also Carol Griffin (partner of Dick) and Toya Andrew (partner is Art) would sail the Worlds. Heather was one of the first members of the St. Thomas Yacht Club and active on various committees. She helped organize the first Sunfish World competition, and she won various competitions in the Soling category. Heather died on April 1, 2000. The marvelous photo is from Pete Smyth for his book “A Guide To Marine Photography”. The photo was on the cover of the October 1971 issue of Motorboating & Sailing and in 1975 used for the book review.

Nav hiervan kreeg ik een reactie van David Connolly die exact zo’n zeil bleek te bezitten. Op mijn verzoek maakte hij er foto’s van op het grasveld in zijn achtertuin.

“The very first World Championship Sunfish Regatta is the brainchild of RUDY THOMPSON” (https://stthomasyachtclub.org/about/history). After being shipwrecked in Puerto Rico in the early 50’s he made his way to St. Thomas and operated one of the area’s first charter boats out of Yacht Haven. Rudy sailed Flying Dutchman at the 1968 Olympic Games. Garry Hoyt, Jorg Bruder and Per Dohm all sailed in the Finn class at that Olympics… did the Sunfish Worlds idea started there?

Rudy was heavily involved in getting the US Virgin Islands Olympic status. In January 1970 the “Virgin Daily News” did a very good job in informing the Islands on the progress of the event: i found over 10 articles. Rudy must have had a hot-line with the sports news desk! Rudy was a Past Commodore of St. Thomas Yacht Club. He participated in racing events from Trinidad to Puerto Rico for over 50 years. The passing of Rudy Thompson on Saturday, April 24, 2010 saddened the Caribbean sailing world.

The 1st Sunfish Worlds had 56 entries. 4 sailed at the 1968 Olympics: Hoyt, Bruder, Thompson and Dohm. 3 sailed the 1972 Olympics: Klein, Griffin and Kelly.2 Sailed at the 1976 Olympics: Andrew and De la Roche. And JOHN F. FOSTER sailed FIVE (!) Olympics (1972-1992). He also competed in the Bobsleigh event at the winter (!) Olympics of 1988. An interview with John and son is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX9P4urnUQk

4 Olympic sailors at the Worlds is not a record. In both 1972 and 1976 there were 10 Olympians competing.20 SF World sailors sailed more than 1 Olympics. At the top of the list: Hans Fogh: 6 times. John Foster 2nd (5 times). Paul Foerster, Peter bromby, Paula Lewin, Juan Maegli and Juan Torruella all sailed 4 times at the OG’s.I found 61 Sunfish Worlds sailors that sailed at an Olympics. Each now has a link to his/hers Olympedia page (the Olympic ring icon on the profile page). In case i missed you: let me now!Finally: 2 Olympic Gold winners sailed a SF Worlds: Serge Maury won the 1972 Finn class (5th at the SF worlds) and Paul Foerster won the 470 class at the 2004 Olympics and became the 2008 Sunfish World champion.

After writing about Heather Klein as 1st Top Woman, i decided to make that list complete. The “Worlds archive” pages now have an extra column “Top woman”, https://www.sunfishworlds.org/archive_o.aspx?

There are 31 women that claimed this title. 8 of them won more than 1 time: Jo Anne Weberlein, Dianne Harrisson and Gail Heausler did it twice. Yvon de la Fargue, Lee Parks and Caterina Romero three times, Leslie Weatherly four times. But the ever smiling JEAN BERGMAN won the title a staggering 7 (!!) times.

BTW: There is an interview on YouTube with Jean (and Dick Tillman) during the 2000 Worlds at Sarasota: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukerpvUFJNc

In the 1993-94 Fall/Winter Windward Leg issue I stumbled upon this remark about the Sunfish Worlds that year: “The top masters finisher was Jack Willy, of New Weymouth, MA, who not only earned a 1Oth place overall but was an honored recipient of the ‘bullet club’ bottle of rum.”

I searched the 60 (!) WWL’s for ‘bullet club’ and ‘bottle of rum’, but there is no other mention. I am just guessing that all members of this club at least won 1 race at a Worlds…?

The club has 119 members. The Top-10:


2. Malcolm Smith (20)

3. Alonso Collantes de Riglos (19)

4. Paul-Jon Patin (18)

5. Alexander Zimmermann (15)

6. David Mendelblatt, Dave Chapin (12)

7. Donald Martinborough (10)

8. David Loring (9)

9. Cor van Aanholt and Jean Paul de Trazegnies (8)

10. Scott Kyle and Bruce Sutphen (7)

On top of the Sunfish Worlds “bullet club” is Eduardo Cordero with 33 #1 places. I found another way to show he is the Sunfish GOAT.

In different sports we know a “Grand Slam” (in golf “Majors”). The 4 most prestigious events. So for Sunfish i decided -totally subjective- that the 4 Grand Slam events are: Worlds, North Americans, South Americans and US Nationals/Midwinters. It was not a surprise that Eduardo would end up on #1 but look by what margin!

There is an interview with Eduardo on Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5F70DY4NtA

Caroline Young requested a Women “Grand Slam” list. I decided to use: Worlds (49 Top Women), North Americans (39), Women North Americans (43) and US Nationals/ Midwinters (38). The numbers of regattas is almost equal to the male version: 169 vs 174. Still a (big) DISCLAIMER: the result database is not complete. Example: my NA results start in 1963 (!), the first NA with a woman result is for 1982… These older results may be important because we have two women competing for the #1 spot: Nancy Haberland and Jean Bergman.


I found a 1971 Sunfish Worlds article “MotorBoating “. The photo/title is click-bait “avant la lettre”! There is a fun story about JORG BRUDER:

“The worst effect of the high winds was the disadvantage at which it placed the lightweight sailors. They were unable to hold the boats Hat, even with the most strenuous hiking, especially when others weighing much more and loaded with fifteen or more soaked sweatshirts, were hiking out. Rudy Thompson of the Virgin Islands, a hundred and forty pounder who did quite well last year, complained in his friendly way, “After last year, I was determined to really get in condition for this year’s championship. I did sit-ups until I was dizzy. When I got here I rushed up to Jorge Binder and said, Jorge, I can do five hundred sit-ups.’ What did he say? ‘How much weight?’.

Unfortunately for Jorge, physical conditioning is only one aspect of racing; rules are another. Jorge ran afoul of them enough to he topped out of serious contention for the championship. He did, however, demonstrate how to sail a Sunfish well by taking the last two races of the six race series.”

Jorg was the first 3 time Finn World champion: 1970,1971 and 1972. In 1970 he sailed: 58-7-2-1-1-(58) , 68,5 points. One of those 58’s was the result of a protest by Garry Hoyt which was upheld by the Protest Committee. Had that not happened Bruder would have won, with Garry second.The 1971 Worlds started with 2 DSQ for Bruder. He then sailed 3-4-1-1 !

Jorg Bruder died in 1973 in Orly, Paris when travelling to the Finn Gold Cup. The IFA has since used the Jörg Bruder Silver Cup to award Junior World Champions of the class. In the 1972 Olympics Bruder competed in the Star Class. On the way out of the harbor, Bruder snagged a shroud on a piling and brought the rig down on their heads. They brought the boat back to the dock, brought down a spare mast, stepped it, rigged it and sailed out to win that day’s race.

The internet and social meeting do make wonderful things possible. High on my search list was CARL KNIGHT. A legend in the Sunfish Class and 1 of the original 10 people in the Sunfish Hall of Fame (1991). In the Windward leg fall/spring 1990 Derrick Fries speaks about Carl: “One of the things I always admired about Carl Knight is that one of Carl’s tricks was that he would play on your ego. Carl was intense and on shore he was always mysterious.””Often, he’d come over and look at my boat and say, “I don’t understand why you have this here.” I could never know if he was telling me something just to give me a bum steer or if he was telling me the truth. He’d just play with you …. I respected him because it was just part of the game. It did not end when he got off the water. For him, it was just the beginning”

I already explained how any search starts. That did not reveal much. But he is mentioned on the website of his neighbor Alison: “As she graduated from high school and entered college, she crewed at every opportunity on Carl’s sailboat in Lake Norman regattas. Being a former North American champion sailor, Carl was a great teacher. He was meticulous in handling his boat, relentless in his competitiveness, and his boat was rarely beaten in any race.”

Two clicks later i wrote Alison a chat message on FB. The answer came back in seconds: “OMG I love this. This man is the reason I am sailing around the world today. Melts my heart. Carl just celebrated his 90th birthday. “

And moments later i am FB connected with his wife! Then an email from Carl: “Ahoy, mate. I’m still active, with crisp memories and photos. I have left 9 decades astern, and am happy to share what I have to meet your needs.”

Next he shared some thoughts on the Venezuela Sunfish Worlds:” We raced the South American Championship the week before the Worlds. I seem to recall that Harvey Howell won that event. One Championship race was started and allowed to race with winds gusts from a nearby hurricane officially clocked at 56 knots. It was called off when none of us were able to right our capsized boats in mountain-like 12 -15 foot wave crests. We also held a World Team Race Championship event. Teams were 5 boats each country. USA won.

I held the first place in the final race with our places 1 3 4 5 6 at the start of the final leg. I didn’t want Larry Lewis (then in 6th place) not to be in the top 5, so I spent my last leg covering the opponent sailor who started that final leg in second place. I dropped to 5th behind Larry who moved up to 4th giving USA a perfect 1 2 3 4 5 sweep to the chagrin of my victim who dropped from 2nd to 6th..Andre Roache, the Regatta Chairman, held a remarkably perfect event on shore with boat storage rigging stalls, and launching. I think he was responsible also for the Hospitality chair lady, whose photo is attached, Pili Gonzales.”You can see Carl rigging and sailing in the 1972 Sunfish Worlds video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4UPNPRvzkk

History repeats itself!

During the 50th Sunfish Worlds prize giving Top Woman, overall place 10, CATERINA ROMERO (PER) received a Pucci Sunfish sail (donated by David Connolly) just like the 1st Top Woman HEATHER KLEIN (VIR) did in 1970!


Facebook Sunfishworlds: https://www.facebook.com/sunfishworlds

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Uitslag: https://www.sunfishworlds.org/results.aspx?e=O&j=2021

Foto/video van 50 jaar Sunfish Worlds: https://www.sunfishworlds.org/multimedia.aspx?