About a year ago we reported that Senior Editor Coles Phinizy had survived—thank God—another disaster, a plane crash into the Mexican jungle. This was about par for Phinizy's perilous course—he had previously dropped unceremoniously to earth in two other planes and had fallen 4,200 feet under a burst balloon. We were incautious enough to mention in that letter that Coles was currently occupied with skin diving "possibly because things seem to go better for him underwater than they do in the air." But on his most recent assignment he managed to get into trouble underwater, too. He was almost done in by oysters.
In Australia to interview Yacht Designer Warwick Hood for the closeup beginning on page 76 of this issue, Phinizy volunteered to go down in 20 feet of water to search for an engine part some Australian had dropped overboard. This depth is nothing much for a skin diver, and Phinizy went over the side without an air tank, expecting no trouble. He promptly got his right leg stuck between a couple of pipes thickly encrusted with oysters. "Sydney oysters are the finest eating in the world," he said charitably last week, and Sydney oysters apparently return the compliment. They were most reluctant to let Coles go, as a whole new batch of scars on his right leg indicates.
Phinizy has made four trips to Australia, and that continent has to hold a special place in the heart of the true connoisseur of Phinizy misfortune: what happens to him there is not so much lethal as bizarre. On one trip, he broke a tooth in flight by biting into a piece of taffy. On another, he dropped a suitcase down the side of a mountain. Once on his way to Australia, Coles suffered every inoculation known to man. "I was inoculated against dry rot, beriberi and black tooth," he recalls without enthusiasm, but somehow upon arrival he turned out to be carrying a record of inoculations that belonged not to him but to a photographer who was traveling with him. The photographer's record was blank. Coles was reinoculated against dry rot, beriberi and black tooth.
And, of course, it was in Australia that he was attacked by red kangaroos. He was there to photograph them. "I got down at a low angle," he explains, "and I suddenly saw a red object flying. It came at me with all six feet, or however many feet a kangaroo has, and they only told me later that it had been trained as a boxing kangaroo."
June 4, 1967
Undeterred by these peculiar interruptions, Phinizy has consistently come home from Australia and elsewhere with stories as good as the one with which we are beginning our coverage of the 1967 America's Cup campaign. With a lot of luck, we hope to have more Phinizy stories on the cup as the campaign goes on. With the advent of the final trials and the cup competition itself, champion Yachtsman Carleton Mitchell will again be in action for us, backstopped by Artist Don Moss, Photographer Richard Meek, and another sailing champion, Bill Cox. We make this forecast confidently, certain that Mitchell, Moss, Meek and Cox are not going to be attacked by oysters. That could happen only to Editor Phinizy.