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HomeChampionship of Champions 1977

1977 Championship of Champions
The race that changed everything


1977 c of c start
C of C 4
C of C 6

Our boats have evolved from the line of abysmal sailboats that Chrysler started making in 1964. Just how bad were those first boats? Seeing that the Lonestar 13 and 16 models were not doing well in what was an exploding market for sailboats, Chrysler Marine’s marketing director phoned Dick Gibbs and asked him what he thought Chrysler should do.  Dick Gibbs’ reply was “I suggest you get all those molds in one spot and torch them. It’s unreasonable for Chrysler to foist off such junk on an unsuspecting public. The 13-footer was out of balance badly; when you healed it sunk by stern and the water ran right straight in the cockpit".  

The real evolution started in 1968 when Chrysler hired Rod Macalpine-Downie and Dick Gibbs to submit designs to fix Chrysler’s mess. This move helped to bolster Chrysler Marine’s position in the sailboat market and was just one of several steps that lead to the performance-oriented vessels manufactured by Nickels Boatworks today.


The next major evolutionary change came in 1979, two years after a “Perfect Storm” hit the OD / Buccaneer world. That storm came during the 1977 Championship of Champions and led to a major redesign of the Buccaneer at considerable expense to Chrysler. These newly redesigned Chrysler Buccaneers were known as the Champion Edition. 

In 2004, Michael Connolly, former BCA Archivist/Historian, documented the Buccaneer production historyA detailed list of changes implemented after the “Perfect Storm” can be found on p. 18 of the Buccaneer-Tuning-Guide.



The Championship of Champions (C of C’s) was inaugurated in 1976 by what was then called the United States Yacht Racing Union and is now known as US Sailing.  US Sailing selects up to nineteen competitors who are current national, North American, or world champions of their respective classes. The Championship is named in honor of Jack Brown who was noted for his service as a judge, regatta organizer, and member of US Sailing Committees. To learn more about the C of C’s races, you can visit:  

The 1977 C of C’s regatta was "interrupted" by Hurricane Clara. A young Matt and Greg Fisher were competing in the regatta (third boat from the pin), which was held just off Annapolis, MD. Due to the hurricane conditions, many boats capsized, some were damaged, and it was difficult to rescue some of the racers. Michael Connolly also stated in his 
Buccaneer production history that "During the severe weather of the October 1977 Championship of Champions several Buccaneers were dismasted, capsized and swamped.”

Greg Fisher recalls that after they got everyone back and the boats put away, they waited until the hurricane was over, fixed the boats, and finished the regatta. They got one more race in and C-15 champion, Tom Linsky, won the regatta.



That the “severe weather” to which Greg referred was an understatement. As described in a Sports Illustrated article from November 1977, the storm was “an enormous wall of purple and black, veined with flashes of lightning” and it “filled the western horizon.”  The article goes on to describe “gusts of 50 mph and higher” and that wasn’t even the worst of it.  As reported, “A second squall hit and, to add to the chaos, night fell. An hour after the race more than half the crews were still unaccounted for.”See the full article Sports Illustrated.

As harrowing as that sounds, the first-hand account of this event from one of the competitors, Jim Young, brought the danger into even sharper focus.  His tale is worth reading in full, as it contains lessons about how he should have luffed into the storm rather than continuing to try to reach the finish line, and how polypropylene underwear probably saved the lives of his crew after they spent 2 hours in the open bay awaiting rescue. Read his entire account here.

If you would like to view pictures of that fateful 1977 Championship of Champions and see the aftermath of the extraordinarily severe weather that prompted Chrysler to make a better and much safer boat, please refer to this collection of PHOTOS 

The 1977 event was also covered by the New York Times and an excerpt of the article can be found here.

Additional information about the event can be found here.
Chrysler Crewsnest winter 1977-78.jpg

More about C of C’s can be found here.

US Sailing
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