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America’s Cup : Kiwis on Way, Want to Race--a Monohull : Fay Says He Won’t Wait for Yacht Club to Regroup if He Wins in Court

Times Staff Writer

Michael Fay’s superboat, en route to San Diego from New Zealand, arrived in San Pedro Thursday as Fay vowed, “I won’t go home without a match.”

Fay says he doesn’t want to obtain the America’s Cup by forfeit. But he also said after Wednesday’s hearing in New York Supreme Court that if he wins his fight to disqualify the Stars & Stripes catamaran from September’s scheduled defense, he won’t give the defenders extra time to build a monohull.

“My attitude is the San Diego Yacht Club has been mucking around with this thing since last July,” Fay, an Auckland merchant banker, said. “They’ve had enough time.”

Apparently, the Kiwis believe the option is up to Sail America, which is managing the defense for the San Diego Yacht Club.

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“They find a maxi (boat) and race,” said one member of the New Zealand syndicate who asked that his name not be used. “That’s the closest thing to our boat in existence.”

Another option was offered earlier by Bill Koch, whose maxi Matador has twice finished second in the maxi world championships “with the oldest and heaviest boat in the race,” Koch said.

Koch wrote to Sail America Foundation President Malin Burnham on March 9, proposing to defend the Cup in a boat that he would build, on one condition: that Dennis Conner wouldn’t sail it.

Koch indicated in the letter that after he had contributed $100,000 to Sail America’s defense, Conner reneged on an offer to “deliver technology which would be beneficial to my maxi program” in return.

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Koch also wrote: “We have uncovered some hitherto unknown scientific principles that apply to large sailing boats. We feel we can design and engineer, within 30 days, a very fast 90-foot or 70-foot monohull.”

Fay’s monohull, 123 feet overall, is 90 feet at the waterline, the maximum length permitted by the Cup’s governing Deed of Gift.

Koch said Thursday that the only response he ever received from Burnham was “a phone call saying, ‘We got the letter and we’re considering it.’ Since then, nothing.”

Asked whether the offer was still good, Koch said, “A very strong maybe.”

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But Koch said he doubted that, after the design and engineering work, there would be enough time to build such a boat before the Sept. 19 date of the first race designated by New Zealand.

The New Zealand boat completed its 10,000-mile, 14-day voyage aboard the Australia-New Zealand Direct Line’s container ship Discovery Bay early Thursday morning. A mammoth container crane transferred it to a barge for forwarding to San Diego, where it is scheduled to be assembled and sailing again Tuesday.

Transferring the detached 160-foot mast was trickier. The crane operator high overhead had a few false starts before the ground crew was able to arrange the lifting yoke just right so the spar would remain level without twisting.

The 21-foot deep keel, also detached, was sent to San Diego by truck, along with five containers of equipment and two chase boats.

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Crewmen George Jakich and Nick Heron accompanied the boat aboard the freighter, performing scheduled tasks along the way. To a man, syndicate members hope to win the Cup sailing and not through the efforts of their lawyers.

“It’s essential that we get out on the water,” said Peter Walker, an associate of designer Bruce Farr. “This yacht is the next challenger for the America’s Cup. We want to race. We’ve stated and held that position from the time we issued the challenge (last July).”

The boat already has had 5 1/2 weeks of shakedown sailing in New Zealand.

Wednesday, when Stars & Stripes went out for its first sail on San Diego Bay, members of the New Zealand team got their first look at what may be the competition, should the court allow it.

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“Dennis was kind enough to sail up the harbor to our dock to show us the boat,” Walker said, smiling.

Next week, the Kiwis may return the gesture.


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