Driscoll Couldn't Get Eagle Crew Changes

Times Staff Writer

Gerry Driscoll's views of a laid-back attitude by the Eagle crew led to his departure as director of operations last week, a source within the Newport Beach America's Cup syndicate told The Times Monday.

The source at Freemantle, Australia, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said Driscoll wanted to replace tactician Doug Rastello and navigator James Alsop, and thought skipper Rod Davis was too lax on discipline.

The source said that though Driscoll regards Davis as "a good helmsman, he is not a good skipper. The boat has no leadership."

Davis, contacted in Fremantle, said: "Each skipper has his own way of running a program. Some might think I'm too easy on my crew and some might think I'm too hard. I'm harder on my crew than (USA skipper Tom) Blackaller is, but I may not be as hard as (Stars & Stripes skipper) Dennis Conner is. What works for one guy may not work for another."

Davis said he has strict rules about punctuality.

"Everybody has to be at our morning workout every day at 6:30, everybody has to be at our breakfast meeting at 8:20, and everybody has to be at the boat by 9 o'clock. We're off the dock at 10:30 every day--sharp--and if you miss the boat there's hell to pay. I won't let 'em use any excuse."

Davis said that Driscoll never told him directly that he wanted to replace Rastello or Alsop.

Driscoll resigned under pressure from the syndicate board of directors after Eagle finished the first round of challenger trials 4-8. Eagle is 1-1 in the second round after upsetting USA Monday.

"Gerry Driscoll was a very important part of the program, but they wouldn't let him do what he was hired to do," the source said. "The syndicate did not back him up."

Erratic wind shifts off Fremantle have plagued some boats, including Eagle.

Anticipating wind shifts is primarily the responsibility of the tactician and navigator.

"It's incredibly difficult sailing the shifts," the source said. "That's why Blackaller is such a damn good sailor. He was always on the right side of the course. We were always on the wrong side."

Earlier, Driscoll, 61, declined to comment specifically on what he termed "philosophical differences" with the Eagle board of directors, other than to say he didn't think the boat was being sailed to its potential.

He was replaced by L.J. Edgcomb, 34.

According to the source, Davis resisted Driscoll's efforts to replace Rastello because Davis and Rastello are close friends. They won two Congressional Cup match racing titles together in 1981 and 1985.

"That's why Gerry quit," the source said. "He felt that that part of the boat should be better. The best boat in the world alone is not going to win the America's Cup. It's the best people and the best organization."

Driscoll won the Congressional in 1965 and 1966 without losing a race and skippered Intrepid in the America's Cup defender trials in 1974, narrowly losing out to Ted Hood on Courageous.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World