As 1988 Cup Factions Simmer Down, ’91 Challenges Roll In
The men who built the mismatched boats for this America’s Cup kissed and made up Saturday.
They said they regretted descending into the mudslinging that characterized Friday night’s post-race press conference--and, besides, they were only following orders.
Bruce Farr, who designed New Zealand’s 133-foot monohull, had said that the Stars & Stripes designers built a catamaran because they lacked the “guts” to try to match his monohull. He also called design coordinator John Marshall a liar.
“The press conference got a little out of hand, and I’d like to apologize for any part I played in that,” Farr said the morning after.
Farr also said, “The decision to challenge in a keelboat was not taken by the designer team. It was taken by Michael Fay. He did not want to race in multihulls. He did not believe a multihull challenge would have been accepted.”
Britton Chance of Stars & Stripes said, “I think it’s unfortunate that things became so heated.”
Last year, French boating magazine L’Annee Bateaux honored Farr as “world’s designer of the year,” the only such international award in the industry. He designed the most recent winners of the Whitbread Round the World Race, the Admiral’s Cup and the World One-Ton Cup, as well as New Zealand’s successful fiberglass entry in the previous America’s Cup.
But before Friday’s second and deciding race, Chance suggested privately that this time Farr missed the mark.
“Their monohull is just slow,” Chance said. “They didn’t build it wide enough. It’s too tender. The keel is too deep . . . creates a lot of drag. The aspect ratio of the rig is too low.
“Fay had to go on assurances that Farr would come up with a faster boat than he did. The buck stops with Farr. It would be a mistake to let him off the hook.”
Saturday, Chance said, “On behalf of the Stars & Stripes design team--and I do make the distinction between that team and management: The option of proceeding with a monohull at the start of design on Nov. 25 last year was definitely precluded by reasons of time, finances and management decision and not by any fear of inability to compete on the part of the design team.
“Let’s go forward and be friendly competitors from here.”
After Saturday’s press conference, Marshall met Farr at the gate to the enclosure and explained, he said, what he meant by saying KZ-1 was “not fast.”
Marshall said his point was that if the Cup were to deviate from the Deed of Gift’s provision for “mutual consent” in regard to boats and dump the obsolete 12-meters, both sides should try for “the achievable state of the art in naval architecture,” which he felt Stars & Stripes did.
“You just can’t split the difference,” Marshall said. “If you try to split the difference, you end up where we are, and that’s what we learned in this event.
“I said to Bruce that I was sorry things got out of control, but it was meant as a critique of the method of (New Zealand lawyer) Andrew Johns’ challenge as an attempt to impose on the America’s Cup a visibly slow technology against the best. The America’s Cup should stand for the best and fastest.”
Eight challenges already have been submitted for the next America’s Cup, which is to start May 1, 1991 in San Diego, unless Fay is successful in getting the catamaran disqualified.
The first challenge came from Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, on behalf of the Aga Kahn. Commodore Gianfranco Alberini was standing behind San Diego YC Commodore Doug Alford on Alford’s boat, ready to hand him the challenge seconds after the catamaran crossed the finish line.
Standing behind Alberini was a representative of the Royal Perth YC with a challenge from Alan Bond.
Later bids came the Port Perdennis YC of Falmouth, England (Peter De Savary); Cruising YC of Australia (Paul Ramsay); Isis Corinthian YC, London; Yacht Club du Rhone, France (Roger Caille); Crusade YC, England; and Nippon Ocean Racing Club, Japan.
Du Rhone proposes to sail a 70-foot catamaran. The others apparently will sail whatever is agreed upon.
Fay has not submitted a challenge but has indicated he will do so if unsuccessful in his court case. But there is a 60-day deadline. What if he doesn’t challenge and loses in court? Will San Diego let him in?
“We’ll have to consider that at the time,” Alford said.
Four basic design concepts currently are being proposed as the common boat for the next Cup: 12-meters, tall-rig 12-meters (for San Diego’s light wind), multihulls and an 85-footer that is the consensus result of a designers’ symposium instigated by Farr and chaired by Bill Ficker of Newport Beach, who defended the Cup aboard Intrepid in 1970.
Everyone except some low-budget northern Europeans looking to get into the game seems determined to dump 12-meters.
The Stars & Stripes catamaran flashed the wave of the future last week: advertising on the sails.
In Wednesday’s race they plugged Diet Pepsi; Friday, it was Merrill Lynch and Marlboro.
Friday, crew members sipped on soda pops as they cruised along miles ahead of the Kiwis. Nobody appeared to be smoking or reviewing his stock portfolio.
Fay and Bond, who have adequate personal resources, are firmly against such commercialism, which for this event required a waiver of Rule 26 of the International Yacht Racing Rules.
But Sail America and Stars & Stripes wound up $2 million short for the event, so the die is cast: This space for rent.