Two famed competitors, each now retired from the fray, are speaking in SI this week. Bill Russell's story, which begins on page 80, reports the conclusions he has drawn about life and sport after thinking over his career—the greatest in the history of basketball—and qualifies as important reading. Some of Russell's ideas reflect the familiar views of other critics of U.S. society, but the sincerity and force of his expression are not commonly found. Agreed with or disagreed with, Russell's story should make both lovers and disparagers of sport take another look at themselves.
On page 36, Yachtsman Carleton Mitchell, the only racing sailor ever to win the biennial Newport-to-Bermuda ocean race three times, begins his tale of a cruise to the sometimes terrifying Galàpagos Islands—a cruise which signaled a kind of retirement for him because it was made under power rather than sail and completed with no compulsion to beat any other man to a finish line.
It was some 16 months ago that we announced this rag sailor's transition from canvas into steam (as the phrase once was) by printing his own account of the powerboat he had commissioned for a new noncompetitive life at sea.
Unlike his graceful yawl Finisterre, which often demanded a payment in seagoing comfort for the speed she gave him, Mitch's 42-foot diesel trawler Sans Terre was intended by him to be "a marine conveyance, seaworthy, easy to handle and with range enough to undertake extended passages" and, at the same time, offer "creature comforts comparable to a small bungalow."
June 7, 1970
His story this week is proof that the dreamboat more than measured up to expectations in both departments. Starting at Newport Beach, Calif. in early November of 1968, his galley deepfreeze stocked with a Thanksgiving turkey, the author took Sans Terre southward past the desert coast of Baja California, across the gulf and down the palm-studded coast of Mexico to Huatulco (where he ate the turkey), easterly past the jungles of Guatemala and Nicaragua to Golfito, Costa Rica and thence south-southwest across the open ocean to the Galàpagos.
Heading east on the return voyage through the Panama Canal, he brought his now thoroughly sea-tested vessel (9,000 miles of cruising) to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where she lay untouched throughout the hurricane season. Almost all that time Sans Terre's proud owner has lived comfortably aboard her. Did he miss the exhilaration of sail and racing? The answer: "I've been too busy to notice."
Come August and September, Mitchell will be up in Newport, Rhode Island, once again vicariously enjoying competition under sail as he reports for us the progress of the America's Cup trials and races.