From the archives — one big oily mess

ny-times-sept-601This year marks the 80th running of the Vineyard. Five years ago we ran a series of articles chronicling the history of the race. Starting today we will be reposting those articles on this blog. (Orig post date: March 2009)

While planning for the 75th running of the Vineyard Race one of the more pleasurable tasks has been reading articles from past races. Chris Meek and the Library and Collections Committee have been rummaging through archives of various publications to collect articles about past races.

One of the more unusual clips involves an article about an unusual adversary — oil. This occurred in the 1960 running of the race. According to John Rendel’s dispatch, many of the competitors that year managed to sail through several oily patches caused by the grounding of a tanker off Rhode Island.

Oil to them became a bad word. It was all over the hulls of their boats and it was over some of their sails, too. The slick black stuff clung to the boats’ hulls — like untidy whiskers. It spotted sails that might never be clean again.

There was even a quote from Arthur Knapp, Jr. who that year sailed on Rod Stephens’ Mustang.

Outside of Newport on the way out we noticed big spots of oil on Genoa jib,” he said. “All the boats must have had the same. How we are going to get the spots out I don’t know. We figured that a tanker had got into trouble, but coming back into Long Island Sound early Sunday morning we got more oil.

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