star struck

This is a restoration story with quite a surprise. Together with a friend, I bought a very cheap and complete star from 1972. We were so interested in the shape and design of the star class, but at the time we already owned a boat and we were not specifically looking to buy another one.

Until one day I checked an online marketplace pure random and found this star class for only a few hundred euros complete to sail apart that it needed restoration since nobody had been looking after her for about 16 years. So, the next day we owned a star, never seen one in real life let alone sailed one. In two years we restored the boat and also found the crazy story behind the boat.

This specific star SIMBA V is the gold winner of the 1972 Olympic games in Germany, which happened like this:

Forbes and Anderson from Australia teamed up after the 1970 America’s Cup where Forbes had been sailing on GRETEL II in the afterguard.

Forbes was also encouraged by his performance in Acapulco in 1968, and he invited John Anderson, a man with a similar personality and drive, to join him in a bid for 1972. They soon dominated local races, winning the Australian Championship in 1971-72 (Not with this star). At the Olympic trials, they won seven straight races in their Star SCALLYWAG. After the trials, Forbes continued trying to improve the boat’s speed, and experimented with a variety of new sails, imported from the USA.

They took SCALLYWAG overseas to train and race before the Olympics, competing first in the Kiel Week Regatta, the site of the Olympic races. They performed badly, coming 28th. At the European championships in Sweden, however, they improved to tenth place. Obviously, they were not fast enough and considered their situation. They soon concluded that they had to get another boat. However, there was barely a month to go to the Olympics. After carefully studying the boats available for charter, they chartered SIMBA V from Swiss sailor, Heinz Maurer.

Forbes recalled the following: “Having sailed in the European Star Championship in 1971 and finishing 6th I decided my boat was not as quick as the Foley design boats. The European championship was just prior to the Olympics in June /July 1972 After inspecting SIMBA V which had all the equipment that we had tested on our Star boat so we knew what we wanted, I asked Heinz Maurer who owned SIMBA V if would he charter the yacht to me for the 1972 Olympics.

However, one thing which I was told when I picked her up in Switzerland to take her to Kiel was that when they constructed her they left her in the mould all winter to harden which would have improved her stiffness.

The hull had less spring than the Australian boat and thus marginally more waterline; it had a stiffer bottom; the rudder stock was slightly more vertical, giving an improved angle of entry; and the bulb keel was fractionally more streamlined. SIMBA V also had an American mast and a stiffer boom than SCALLYWAG.

This Star (SIMBA V) was designed by Pelle Peterson.

After Pelle Peterson and his crew had a terrible European Spring Championship 1968 in Monaco were 3 Star sailors lost their lives. They decided together with a Swiss Boatbuilder to develop the first unsinkable Star. So, for the 1972 Olympics they had three boats ready. One for Pelle, one for another Swedish Star sailor and the third one for a Swiss sailor Heinz Maurer (#5687).

At the Europeans before the Kiel Olympics (Pelle was the European Champion) David Forbes asked his crew if he could find a boat (Europe Star) for him as he was unhappy with his Australian Boat (SCALLYWAG). Where Forbes was liked to Heinz Maurer who was ready to lend the boat to him for the Olympics in Kiel.

The favorite for the gold medal was Sweden’s Pelle Petterson, a former world champion, but also sailing was the legendary Joerg Bruder from Brazil, later to be a Finn Gold Cup champion. Forbes and Anderson sailed consistently throughout, using their good boat speed and pointing ability to gain and improve their position.

They won only one race, and at the start of the final race had a good points lead. However halfway through the race Pettersen seemed the likely winner until Forbes and Anderson were able match-race and outsail him to finish ahead and claim the gold medal.

The Australians won with 28.1 points. Sweden narrowly took second place with 44.0 points to Germany’s 44.4 points.

That same day, John Cuneo with crew John Shaw and Tom Anderson also won a gold medal in the Dragon Class. This was the first time Australia had ever won two gold medals at any Olympic Games in yachting; and for the Anderson brothers, this was the first time identical twins had won gold and managed this on the same day and in different events. This was also the first and only time that Australia had won a medal in the Star Class in the Olympic competition.

SIMBA V was returned to its Swiss owner after the event and was subsequently raced and sailed by other owners. Where at some point the story of this boat got lost and ended in other hands and with the help of the internet and some very generous people in the sailing industry we were able to track the story down.

Kind regards,
Tom Rijnders
From the Netherlands