The U.S. Naval Academy's 54-foot ocean racer Alliance sailed into Plymouth, England, yesterday, its aluminum hull battered by the violent winds and 60-foot waves that claimed the lives of at least 17 crewmen from other yachts in the internationally acclaimed Fastnet race.
Navy Cmdr. James Barrett of the Naval Academy said the skipper of the craft, Capt. Edwin Shuman, called Annapolis to report in several hours after the sloop had docked.
"If they've been through this race, they're going to be tired and they'll need to get cleaned up," Barrett said. "(Shuman) said everybody's fine, except for a few Band-Aids."
A British spokesman at the Royal Western Yacht Club at Plymouth, which was the destination of the storm-ravaged biennial race, said in a telephone interview that the Alliance was one of 50 yachts that arrived in port yesterday.
The academy sloop docked at 11:28 a.m. (EDT), the spokesman said.
"I've been out sailing myself this evening and I've seen (the vessels) coming in -- they're pretty beaten up," port spokesman Peter Taylor said from England. He said a large number of the yachtsmen who arrived yesterday afternoon gathered that evening for drinks at the yacht club bar.
"The atmosphere is somewhat subdued, shall we say, because of the tragedy of the race," Taylor said.
In addition to the Alliance crew, two other local men crewing aboard the yacht Boomerang arrived safely. Alexandar (Ted) Tedesco Jr., a former Purdue University football player, and Charles J. Simpson, a Washington lawyer, were uninjured by the storm.
Tedesco's mother, Ellen, said she had not heard from her son by 6 p.m. yesterday, but had been notified that he was all right when the company tha owns the Boomerang called her Tuesday night.
"When I watched Walter Cronkite last night . . . I did break down a bit. I ran around pulling my hair out," she said. "I couldn't think of him dead; I just didn't want him hurt."
The Alliance, a training vessel that was donated to the Naval Academy in 1977, left Annapolis with a crew of eight midshipmen, four officers and a civilian coach on June 16. The yacht participated in a trans-Atlantic race on June 29, leaving Marblehead, Mass., and arriving in Ireland on July 13. It took first-place honors in that contest.
How well the Alliance and Boomerang fared in the race was undetermined yesterday, Taylor said. "That's not calculated yet. There are too many (yachts) yet to come that have not arrived," he said.
"I'm sure that with this terrible tragedy no one is worrying about standings," said Nancy Simpson, the mother of 27-year-old Charles Simpson. "Storms are part of sailing, but this was just incredibly tragic," she said. Simpson said her son called her at 1 p.m. yesterday and she was "extremely relieved" to hear he was safe. "But my heart aches for those who were lost, and their families."
The Naval Academy's Barrett said Alliance, one of five large ocean-racing vessels at the Annapolis base, is used for training midshipment in navigation and sailing. Barrett had not been to bed since Monday night, waiting for word from England.
"I wanted to watch this one through," he said. "There was concern, but the outcome is not surprising.We knew it was a good vessel and we knew it had a good crew."