"By the first race in the US Olympic trials ... some 360 small-boat skippers and crews in 180 boats in six classes will have devoted an estimated 100,000 man-hours and $1,000,000 into efforts to make the 12-man team at the Kingston Olympics. Many of these sailors quit jobs or school as early as January, and most if not all will start this month preparing their boats and themselves on at least a half-time basis. If these sailors were less individualistic, they could combine their resources, talents and energies to produce one 12-Meter, a dozen One Tonners or 50 Quarter Tonners, but they prefer beating their heads against each other in small boats on short courses in search of personal glory."--John Rousmaniere, Yachting, March 1976.
Harvard junior Andy Berg left Cambridge last week for Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, to rejoin the battle. The ad board gave him permission to take his only final exam in absentia, so Berg won't be returning to Harvard until next September, hopefully with an Olympic medal in the Tempest class gained by crewing for Andy Schoettle.
Minnetonka is only the point of departure, however. The real battle takes place June 12 on Lake Ontario at the U.S. Sailing Center, when some 36 Tempests race for the right to be the one boat to represent the United States in the Tempest class, one of six separate classes at the 1976 Olympics at Kingston, Ontario. Berg and Schoettle, Derek Bok's brother-in-law, want to be in that boat.
"And if we don't make it this time," Berg said before departing, "I'm going to try again and again and again until I do."
So in Minnesota, where Schoettle lives and is tenured at the University of Minnesota Law School, the pair will begin an intense, month-long campaign that will culminate at the trials against the best Tempest sailors in the country.
The schedule takes them first to Toronto for sail-testing with Hans Fogh, one of the top sail designers in the world; then to San Diego for more sail-testing with two-time Yatchsman of the Year Dennis Conner; to Annapolis, Maryland, for the Eastern Eliminations; and finally up to Noroton, Connecticut, to tune up with the top American Tempest sailors Jack and Jim Linville or with Canadians Allan and Lorne Leibel.
All of this is only the end of an 18-month campaign, during which Schoettle and Berg have sailed together in preparation just to make the Olympic team. But while Berg has plenty of Olympic chances to look forward to, this will be the last chance for Schoettle.
Schoettle has been in the battle a long time. He skippered a 5.5 meter in the 1956 Olympics at Melbourne and came within 15 seconds of a bronze medal, and in 1960 served as an alternate for the 5.5 an Finn class. His brother crewed for Dr. Briton Chance in a 5.5 in the 1952 Olympics and came home with a gold medal, and finished second in a Tempest to Glen Foster in the 1972 U.S. trials and went to Keil as an alternate. He is no stranger to Olympic sailing.
But the pace is not an easy one to keep up with, even if it is only every four years. This year, the serious Tempest competitors will have spent from $10,000 to $15,000 and thousands of hours on the water and in the sail-loft by the time the trials are over.
"Between now and the trials, we will do nothing but boat," Schoettle said yesterday from his home in Minneapolis, adding somewhat reluctantly, "Yes, there's no question. I guess this is my last chance."
For his finale, he chose Berg as his crew. Berg has the size required to sail the Tempest, which has a relatively ineffective keel and a large sail area of 247.6 square feet, making the job of keeping the boat flat in heavy air suited to a big crew. Berg is 6 ft., 3 in. and weighs 230 pounds. "And I could go up another 15 pounds for the trials," he adds.
If there is a lot of wind on Lake Ontario, as is likely, then weight could be a big factor. The Linville brothers, former world champions and winners at the recent SPORT regatta at St. Petersburg, could be hindered by the fact that crew Jim weighs only 200 pounds.
The man to beat, however, appears to be Dennis Conner. And he will neither lack the weight (his crew Con Finley, an Olympic gold medal rower, is 6 ft., 7 in., 225 lbs.) nor sailing time, even though he has only been sailing in the class for a year. Since he bought two Tempests after the 1975 pre-Olympics at Kingston, Conner has spent some 200 days in his boat.
In his first regatta, the North Americans, Conner finished second to Bruce McLeod and Charlie Horter of Philadelphia, and he came up third at SPORT. He will be at Association Island, the site of the trials, a month ahead of the racing, practicing every day to make the team.
But Conner, though maybe a bit extreme, is certainly not atypical of the Tempest competition. "You really have to be dedicated," Berg commented. "It's a lot of money and aggravation, my parents have been bitching at me because I'm screwing up my studies. But it's worth it."