A Day with Japanese Journalists
A couple of weeks after the Cutty Sark race, my mother received a call from a Japanese magazine. I never found out the name. They were doing an article on “Interesting Americans”. They wanted to spend a day with me, watch me race, take pictures and do an interview. Since very few people who know me read Japanese magazines, I had no problem cooperating.
The next race on the agenda was the final Central Park High Point race for 10 Raters. Since the nearest competitor in the standings, Carl Brosius, had moved to California after the Cutty Sark race, the annual trophy was mine. As long as I put my boat in the water, I would earn enough points to cement a first place finish. This was unfortunate for the crew travelling from Japan. With what I had been through the previous three weekends of racing, the relative importance of those races and the magnitude to which I won them, this meaningless race was a big letdown. Between that and the distraction from the journalists themselves, my head wasn’t in the game. It would have been nice to win for them and I really did want to, but, I finished the day in third place instead. They asked me why I didn’t win. I told them that I couldn’t win all the time because it’s not nice. After speaking in Japanese among themselves for a moment with looks of total confusion, they asked me another question.
“Is this a rule?”
“No, I just like being nice.”
I suspected from the looks on their faces that I was growing a second head. I was afraid to look for myself.
They followed us back to the house to take more pictures and do the interview. They asked me to work on the boat and look like I didn’t win because of an equipment failure. I took my winch out of the boat and put it back in repeatedly for almost an hour while they took pictures. They asked me what my other hobbies and interests were. I told them that I liked to watch television and that my favorite show was the People’s Court. The more questions they asked, the more I could tell from the looks on their faces that the second head I was growing didn’t look all that attractive. They noticed the scale boats that my father built as well as the airplanes and they were, as expected, impressed. They asked me if I built any boats and I proudly showed them the small motor boats that I had built and sailed in the pool. These boats looked exactly as though my father had built them …with his feet. At this point the second head I was growing was making their eyes water. Then they laid eyes on the huge train layout I had. They spoke excitedly in Japanese and then they asked me to run some trains. I told them that they didn’t run which was the truth. They hadn’t run in years. They asked me why they didn’t run and I told them that I didn’t like to run trains. I only liked working on the scenery. They looked closely at my scenery work, talked to each other in Japanese and then they glared at me. I could see in the reflection in their eyes that I wasn’t growing a second head at all. It was an ass. When it occurred to them that they were in the right house but interviewing the wrong interesting American, they politely packed up and left. An article about me never appeared in their magazine.
Left: The picture taken for Sports Illustrated, October 1978
Right: The racing duo today