Sir, I am no yachtsman, but like most New Zealanders, I followed the America's Cup contest a year ago with interest and pride. I am therefore quite amazed at the reported statements of U.S. skipper Dennis Conner at his news conference of Jan. 15.
First, Mr. Conner described the latest challenge by New Zealand for the Cup as an attempt to achieve through "legal maneuvers" what it could not achieve by sailing skill on the water.
His protest rings hollow. During the contest at Fremantle, when the New Zealand yacht looked likely to beat Mr. Conner, what did he do? Why, he resorted to "legal maneuvers" to try to have the New Zealand boat disqualified.
Mr. Conner now claims Michael Fay has chosen big 90-foot boats for the challenge because we cannot win in the 12-meter class. The fact is that soon after the America's Cup contest, the same New Zealand yacht with a new skipper won the world 12-meter championships off Sardinia, so Mr. Conner's claim is obviously ridiculous.
When the New Zealand challenge was first announced, Mr. Conner complained that this would exclude other nations. But when New Zealand proposed a preliminary sail-off with other nations, Mr. Conner's team rejected this. So what does he really want?
New Zealand is not trying, as Mr. Conner claims, to win the Cup through court action. Michael Fay went to court (an American court) only because Mr. Conner's team refused to accept a fair challenge made entirely within the Cup rules.
We salute Conner the yachtsman on the water, we deplore his griping on dry land. We fully understand the aspirations of the citizens of San Diego to retain the Cup and we hope that win or lose, the coming challenge will be sailed in a spirit of sportsmanship.