Sport: By the Back Door

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Baruna was a boat to warm an old salt's heart. She liked it rough, with seas kicking up and a breeze with some weight in it. Soon after she cleared Newport's Brenton Reef Lightship for last week's long 635-mile thrash to Bermuda, the wind veered into the northeast. It blew harder as the night wore on. At dawn, Baruna's crew began shortening sail; the jigger was doused and later the mainsail was taken in. With only a Genoa jib set, she boiled along ahead of 35 rival ocean racers.

It was just what the skipper ordered, although the skipper wasn't aboard. Greying Henry C. Taylor, crack sailor and textile merchant, sat in his parlor at Cold Spring Harbor, L. I. He had Baruna, a trim, 71-foot yawl, built for him ten years ago. Twice he had entered the Bermuda race, finished first both times. This time, his three sons, all Navy veterans of World War II, were taking over for him. He had taught them the ABCs of sailing almost before they were out of diapers.

Despite the favoring nor'easter, Henry Taylor was worried. He called La Guardia Airport, got a discouraging weather report : the seas would get glassy calm near Bermuda. Taylor hitchhiked a ride on the New York Herald Tribune's plane that circled out over the Atlantic to cover the race. Through the mist and rain he spied three sails—but no sign of Baruna.

Some 400 miles at sea, the fleet had fanned out according to the whims of wind and the navigators. Aboard Baruna, the Taylor boys held a council of war. They guessed the breeze when it came would come from the southwest. They would take a chance and work over to pick it up before the others.

On the fourth day, planes spotted the leaders about 100 miles northwest of Bermuda. In the lead was Royono, a big yawl from the Great Lakes, practically becalmed. Henry Taylor's big yawl, which couldn't be found at all, was 45 miles due west of Bermuda. Just before sunset, Taylor's oldest son peered through the haze and said: "That looks like Gibbs Hill Lighthouse." It was. As darkness settled down that night, Baruna got her breeze. It was not much more than a breath, but it pushed her slowly through the darkness. By coming in Bermuda's back door before dawn, Baruna had done it again.