In the middle 1960’s, I was racing offshore, building fast boats, raising a family, and living ‘la dolce vita’. Things couldn’t get much better. I was swept up in the excitement of racing, winning a little, and getting to rub elbows with the cream of international sports. I felt the need to ‘give back’, for all the good things that had happened to me in past few years, so I ran for the American Powerboat Association Vice Presidency for Offshore Racing. With that post, came the task of Union of International Motorboating delegate to their Offshore Comission. In 1967 I won both jobs, and set out to be the best ever. That would not be as tough as it sounds, as there was only one before me, and he never went to a UIM meeting. I appointed my own ten person offshore commission, and set about adopting the US offshore rules to international offshore races, so that it would be possible to race in any country without modification or penalty. We did good work in that line, and, except for occasionally slapping a commissioner for “grinding his own axe”, it went well. At one of the commission meetings during the NY Boat Show, I was ill, and could not attend. My adjutant, Bill Wishnick, ran the meeting, and as first order of business, he made a motion to wish me a speedy recovery. It passed, 5 to 4. Maybe I wasn’t as smooth as I thought.
In November, 1968, the annual UIM Commission meeting was to be held in Stockholm, Sweden. The King of Sweden had a 35’ Magnum boat, and I looked forward to chatting with him about boats and such. I was required to have an assistant, and chose Pat Duffy, who was my Donzi, then Nova Marine dealer in Mount Clemens, Michigan. Pat was rich, funny, smart, short and extremely fun loving. He mentioned that he would be going to London just before the meeting, and that I could meet him there on the way to Stockholm. This was before the days of Jetways at the airport, and when I arrived on PanAm, he was waiting on the Tarmac with the Rolls Royce ‘Shooting Brake’ that had recently been the subject of the movie “The Yellow Rolls Royce”. The chauffeur was the owner of the car and the firm, and we had him on call 24 hours a day. The engine was a V12 Rolls Royce Spitfire prototype, and exceptionally powerful for a car. By the second day, we finally got the chauffeur to drink a little rum, and he let Pat drive. Big mistake. We were drag racing motorcycles, and winning. We picked up all sorts of women, and told all sorts of lies. They may still be looking for Pat.
While there, I met with the British contingent for the UIM meeting, and traded rides in the Rolls for non-hydraulic transmissions, that sort of thing. Stiff upper lip, Tut, Tut, the usual. We flew on to Stockholm and set about the business of keeping Brits, Krauts, Frogs, etc., from bending the rules to suit their stuff. Unfortunately, it was one country, one vote, so I had the same clout as the Union of South Africa (Whose seat I accidentally sat in (USA). It could happen to anybody. I traded concessions in classes that we did not run or that I did not represent (screw ‘em), in order keep the world rules in line. I was mildly successful. At the beautiful ‘going away’ dinner, I sat between Tommy “Snoopy” Sopwith and the Prince of Sweden, Carl Gustav. The Prince was a great guy, and when his Dad checked out, he became King.
With all the skullduggery to get my way with the rules, I had run up a pretty good sized ‘favors’ tab with the small countries’ representatives. Since we all had to fly to a European hub to make connections, I invited the guys who had helped me with rules to meet in Paris, for a night at the Crazy Horse Saloon. The Crazy Horse is the best “joint” in the world. It seats around a thousand people, has two or three hundred of the best looking women on the planet (Melania would not have been hired when she was 18). I was inducted into the secret “Crazy Horsemen” society, thanks to my dear friend, Dick Cole, who taught me draw boats. My best memory of Dick was at the London Boat Show, where he farted the first three bars of “God Save The Queen”. Brought the house down! Anyway, we arrived at Terminus Hotel, at the Gare Ste. Lazare, in the heart of Paris, at five in the afternoon. The town was bursting at the seams with geezers in old military uniforms. Holy Shit! It was the fiftieth anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War One, the War to End All Wars (Yeah, right). It was November 11th, 1968. We were able to get a string of seats at the bar, using a “Green pass”. We drank some excellent wines, and had horses douvers, no, whores ovaries, well, anyway, snacks. We were seven guys in a row, and the Yanks and Canadian veterans kept shoving us together. (Note here. I have NO disrespect for the veterans of any war. WWI was the worst, and anyone who survived it must have been scarred for life. God Bless them). They were reminiscing about getting killed, when a WW2 Vet began discussing the Murmansk Run. That was the North Sea supply route to Russia, and in the winter, literally murder. The Vet closest to us at the bar was discussing a particular incident, concerning an ammo ship that had taken a Nazi bomb right down the stack, blown up, and sunk four other ships from the blast. “Hey, Alf, what was the name of that ship?” “I don’t remember, but I knew one of the guys on it”. “Dammit, I’ve got to remember that name!” At that time, the guy at the end my group said “It was the “William G. O’brian” (or something like that). “Yeah, that was it! Swell, let me buy you a drink. What outfit were you with?” “The vier hundert funfzig funf Luftwaffe”. Suddenly, we were all alone. Oh, well. Off to the Crazy Horse!