Star of the 1920’s


Spars and Sails                     Short Marconi

Mast, deck to sheave          27’0”

Boom                                      18'42"

Mainsail Luff                        24’11”

Mainsail Leech                     28’10”

Mainsail Foot                       18’42

Jib Luff                                   18’4”

Jib Leech                               15’7”

Jib Foot                                  7’7”

As the Star Class continued to grow and develop during the late 1910’s and early 1920’s it became clear that the rig should be modernized. The first step was to change to rig from a gaff rig to a Marconi rig. This changeover occurred gradually during the early 1920’s. The same mainsail could be used on either rig.

The 1922 Log shows the Star sail plan with both the gaff rig and the Marconi rig. The caption to the plan states that the same sail can be used on both rigs. It is interesting to note that the number on the mainsail of the boat in the sail plan is # 6. While this is just a conjecture, it seems most probable that Mr. Sweisguth was responsible for drawing this sail plan.




The original “International” trophy for the Star Class is this “dust-catcher”, for a long time housed in Bayside Y.C., Little Neck Bay, N.Y., and now at the Port Washington Library. It was raced for three times before being replaced by the present World’s Trophy. The trophy was given to the Bayside Y.C. when it was retired because both of the winners of the trophy came from Bayside. They were Bill Inslee who sailed Star # 1, Taurus, to victory in 1922 and 1923 and John Robinson, who sailed Star # 61, Little Bear to the title in 1924.



Our new international trophy

The finest thing in the realm of sport

(from July, 1925, Starlights)

“The Star Class can now boast of a perpetual Trophy that ranks second to none, not only in Yachting but in any sport. A Trophy that will more than hold its own with any of the historic Cups throughout the world. A Trophy that is well worth coming thousands of miles to race for. We have every reason to be proud of this Trophy of ours around which the traditions of our Class will be built, for it is a magnificent thing, a work of art...”

Thus began the article in Starlights describing the new trophy for what we now call the World’s Championship. Over hundred members of the Class donated money for the making of the trophy. The largest contributor was Sam Pirie of Chicago. His son Lockwood “Woodie” Pirie was to win the trophy many years later in 1948.

Ardian Iselin the Port Washington Y.C. was the first winner of the new trophy. He sailed Star # 202, Ace. He was able to sail Ace to win the World’s Championship again in 1936.

(Picture from 1926 Log)


Star # 1

Star # 1 was one of 22 Star boats built by Isaac E. Smith of Port Washington during the winter of 1910-1911. Given the boat-building practices of the day it is probably incorrect to say that Star # 1 was the first Star boat built. Most likely all 22 boats were built and completed at the same time, and it was only the luck of the draw that this boat received # 1. The very first owner of Star # 1 was W.K. Emerson. Mr. Emerson named the boat Taurus. Between 1913 and 1918, when Bill Inslee bought the boat, the boat had three other owners, none of whom were especially successful in racing it.

While Star Class lore credits Walter von Hütschler with introducing flexible spars to the Star Class in the 1930’s it was actually Bill Inslee who began this practice which he described in the April-May issue of Starlights in 1924.

After Bill Inslee had two successful seasons with the boat, winning the top Star prize in 1922, the “Nationals”,  and then after the Star Class became international in 1923 the “Internationals”, Commodore George Corry figured that he should own Star # 1, and renamed it Little Dipper. Perhaps part of the incentive for Mr. Corry buying Taurus was the hope that he would regain his ability to win races as he had back in the early 1910’s. It didn’t happen.

Photo and above caption from the 1923 Log.


“Taurus”, sailed by W.L. Inslee, winning the 1922 National Championship for the Western Long Island Sound against Stars from the Atlantic, Pacific and Great Lakes. “Taurus” has been racing since 1911 and was the first Star ever built.

Photo and text, 1924 Log

Photo courtesy "Yachting"  / Morris Rosenfeld



        This issue would not be complete unless proper tribute was paid to the one man and one boat which above all others deserve it. “Bill” and the “Taurus” have parted company, but their names shall go down on the pages of the History of the Star Class in a blaze of glory.

        Two Gold Stars the emblems of two International championships when will the same man and same boat ever carry these marks of honor again? Probably never. It is the more remarkable because W.L. Inslee of Western Long Island Sound, under the colors of the Bayside Yacht Club sailed No. 1, the first Star ever built, “Taurus”, a Star of a vintage of a decade and a half ago, had many an owner before Bill, but her record under these various skippers was more or less of an obscure one, proof enough that it is the man and not the boat. These two battled scared veterans of many a race, twice fought their way through a perfect elimination system and twice defeated all comers in the largest one design class in the world beating boats built in recent years, boats that were the last word in perfection and modern improvements. Who else, we ask, could have accomplished, or ever will again accomplish, such a feat?

        Inslee's record is worthy of note for it demonstrates what can be accomplished by persistency, study and application. His career as a Star Skipper began on Gravesend Bay in 1915. Inslee was always good but by no means what he is today. He was the recognized champion of his locality in those days but a greatly surprised one, when eight yachts of the Star Class invaded his domain in 1915 and the best he could do against them in that series was 8th. The following year he did better. Then he moved to the Sound where competition was keener. There he studied his boat and everything pertaining to the class, sails, paints, the balance of his boat, and every little detail. For four years he improved steadily, moving a notch or two nearer the top each year, finally in 1921 he reaped the results of his labors and won his first championship and in 1922 and 1923 easily repeated this feat.

His 1923 record was remarkable for he won every series in sight in which he qualified. Luck? Could it be luck to finish 1-2-3 every day at Larchmont Race Week against a field of 32 Stars in all sorts of weather and to win 5 first and 1 second in 6 International races? We salute you Bill Inslee, as the greatest star skipper, the greatest small boat skipper of all times.

Photo:1961 Log

Star # 1 was renamed “Little Dipper” when this picture was taken. Mr. Corry bought # 1 after the 1923 season. His reason was that he felt he should own the first Star ever built.

After “Pop” Corry died in 1943 Star # 1 was placed on display at the Manhasset Y.C., the yacht club from which “Pop” Corry had sailed throughout his career. However, unfortunately the boat was allowed to deteriorate and was finally broken up in about 1955. Only the transom, stem, and tiller remain and are on display in the yacht club.


Pacific Coast Yachting, by Victor Doyle

In 1924, two years after the Star Class Association began, the San Diego Fleet was chartered. Its first officers were Ed Peterson, captain, and Joseph Jessop, secretary. Joe Jessop was very successful in the early days of the fleet, and won numerous Southern Californian events. Here we see Joe Jessop and crew John Sykes sailing Windward #213, built by Ed Peterson in 1923, on their way to winning the 1926 Southern California Yachting Association Championships

Photo: Star Class Archives

1927 Officers of I.S.C.Y.R.A.

W.H. Gidley, Treasurer;  G.W. Elder, President;  G.A. Corry, Commodore; P.E. Edrington, V.P.;  T.D. Parkman, Secretary

Photo: 1924 Log

Action at the leeward mark: 1923 Larchmont Race Week

 Ernest Ratsey’s Irex

Another boat which was very successful in the early 1920’s was the Irex skippered by Ernest Ratsey of the New York loft of Ratsey and Lapthorn, Sailmakers. Mr. Ratsey had a succession of Irexes and captured various honors, his highest being a Silver Star by winning the first Mid-Winter Silver Star Championship in 1926.

When it was proposed that the Star Class have a monthly newsletter it was Mr. Ratsey who suggested the name “Starlights” for it.

When the Class decided to go to the tall Marconi rig in 1929 Mr. Ratsey was a member of the Technical Committee which worked up the new specifications.

There were three Ratseys involved in the Star Class in the 1920’s and 1930’s: the father George Ratsey and brothers Ernest and Colin Ratsey. George Ratsey crewed for Ernest in the 1926 Mid-Winters. While Ernest listed himself as being a member of the Western Long Island Sound fleet Colin listed himself as being a member of the Solent fleet. This was probably indicative of the division of labor, with Ernest working the New York loft and Colin working the English lofts.


(Photo and caption from the 1929 Log.)

Stars from Cuba, France, and the U.S.A. about to round a mark during Star Class Week at Habana, Cuba. The Cuban yacht, “Aurrera IV”, which represented Habana in the last Internationals, leading.


(Photo and caption: 1929 Star Class Log)

Enrique Conill, of Flotte de Paris, sailing the Almendares in the Mid-Winter Championship. The first European Fleet ever represented in a Star Class Championship in the Western Hemisphere.



The Mid-Winter Silver Star Championship Trophy

Very early on in the formation of Star Class fleets Cuba played an important role in the development of the international aspect of Star sailing. The first Cuban fleet, la Flota de la Habana (FdeH) was chartered in 1923. After three years of the Havana fleet prospering a decision was made to host a great event which became the Mid-Winter Championship, also called “les petit Internationals”. Above is a photo from the March, 1929, issue of Starlights showing the Cup of Cuba and other trophies at the final banquet of the 1929 Mid-Winter Championship. Below is a photo from the March, 1928, issue of Starlights showing the participants and hosts at the end of the 1928 event.