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World champ was once nearly lost at sea

posted Sep 6, 2010, 8:19 AM by Danielle Lawson
by Laurie Schreiber -- Bar Harbor Times
MOUNT DESERT – After the surf settled on the International One Design Class 2010 World Championship competition, which was hosted on July 25-30 by the Northeast
Harbor IOD Class and the Northeast Harbor Fleet, it turned out that the winner was kind of lucky to be there at all.

The new IOD world champion, Elliott Wislar, lives in Princeton, N.J., and was skippering for one of the two Long Island Sound teams. But as a child, he and his family summered at their home in Southwest Harbor, and he sailed, and later taught, with the Northeast Harbor Fleet. Reached by telephone, he said he’s sailed IODs all
his life, although the recent world championship was the first time he skippered in a sanctioned event.

In 1980, Wislar said, he had crewed in the IOD World Championship in Marblehead, Mass. He and a friend, Chris Zamore, who was secretary of the Northeast Harbor Fleet at the time, were set to deliver one of the IODs, Aurora, from Marblehead to Northeast Harbor in late September.

According to an Oct. 2, 1980 Bar Harbor Times article, Aurora was one of the 15 original IODs that were delivered in the late 1930s to the Northeast Harbor from Norway, where the design originated.

Aurora had been owned by Wislar’s grandmother, Ellen Elliott, in Southwest Harbor, and then was purchased by John J. “Donny” McNamara of Marblehead. Aurora stayed in Marblehead for about 10 years, and then was bought by Burton Gray of Northeast Harbor and McLean, Va.

It was the job of Wislar, who was 16, and his friend to sail the boat to its new owner. But just outside of Portland, they ran into terrible weather.  “It was a wild time,” he recalled.

The two were struggling to sail in 20-knot winds and 10-foot seas when the boat was holed by the collapse of its spinnaker launcher. At the time, Aurora was the only IOD to have a spinnaker launcher, a rigid chute that allows the spinnaker to slide out from under the deck.

The young sailors didn’t have lifejackets or a radio, and their pump was broken. They stuffed sailbags into the hole and sailed on, spending five days on the open seas.

“We were just a little too adventurous,” he said.

Aurora is now owned by Northeast Harbor Fleet member David Schoeder, who chaired this year’s world cup.

For Wislar, the weather during the week’s championship event was something of a reminder of his earlier adventure. Thanks to strong winds, he was among those who suffered broken spars on the first day of the event, even before racing had started.

“It was wild,” he said. “To get northerly breezes like that the whole week in July is
unusual.”
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