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Eagle to Race Magic in a Trial off Long Beach

Times Staff Writer

Eagle, the boat the Newport Harbor Yacht Club hopes will reclaim the America’s Cup, is scheduled to start trial sailing against its older stablemate Magic off Long Beach next week.

The new 12-meter was launched April 6 and had its first test under sail last weekend in a campaign that will lead it to Australia for the start of challenger eliminations in October.

“It felt good although mainly we just wanted to see how it sat on its lines and that everything was in balance,” skipper Ron Davis said. “So far, so good.”

The boat is based at the Marina Shipyard in Long Beach, in full view of traffic over the Second Street bridge, but with a wooden screen around its not-so-secret winged keel.

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For the fine tuning against Magic, it’s possible Eagle will sail the older boat as a benchmark, with tactician Doug Rastello at the helm.

Later, the crew of Italia may sail Magic, and Canada I and Buddy Melges’ Heart of America are expected to join in the scrimmaging shortly before shipping to Perth. Eagle representatives have discussed getting together with Tom Blackaller’s Golden Gate Challenge from San Francisco, but that seems unlikely now.

Odds posted by Jeff Spranger’s America’s Cup Report list Eagle--one of the last to have a new boat in the water--in a tie for fourth with France among the world’s 13 challengers.

The favorite is America II from New York at 3-1, followed by Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes, 4-1; New Zealand, 8-1; Eagle and France, 10-1; Canada’s Secret Cove and True North, Italy’s Azzura and Great Britain’s Crusader, 20-1; Italy’s Italia, Heart of America and Golden Gate, 25-1, and New York’s Courageous, 40-1.

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Alan Bond’s Australia III group that won the cup in ’83 is favored among the four contenders at 3-1, followed by Taskforce 87’s Kookaburra boats at 12-1, South Australia at 25-1 and Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s unnamed entry, 50-1.

Australia III won the recent 12-meter world fleet-racing championship on the America’s Cup course, trailed by New Zealand and America II. Courageous IV, a modified version of the two-time cup defender, was the only other American entry.

America’s Cup Notes

The trial between Magic and Eagle will be held beyond the east end of the Long Beach breakwater, which will be difficult to view from shore. The trial is expected to start Monday, but the start can change if the yachts are not ready.

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