A replica of the schooner America, winner of the 1851 race around the Isle of Wight that became the America's Cup, will sail into San Diego at about 1 p.m. today.
The Spanish-owned boat will be moored at the Southwestern Yacht Club at Point Loma through the end of the competition in May and will participate in a parade of Cup boats in San Diego Bay on March 1.
The boat, built by Goudy and Stevens in Rhode Island in 1967, is 104 feet, 5 inches long, with a 22-10 beam and an 11-6 draft. It is owned by Ramon Mendoza, who also owns the Club Real Madrid soccer team.
Mendoza had the boat sailed from Spain to the U.S. to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage.
Bob Billingham, a silver medalist in the '88 Olympics, has left the America 3 crew to take a job as project manager for Monahan Pacific Construction Corp. in San Rafael.
Billingham, 34, was a mainsail trimmer and grinder but sailed only two races in the second round.
"Not sailing didn't help, but I don't think it was a factor," Billingham said from his home in San Mateo.
"No matter what happened, this job offer was a good job, and the economy doesn't provide for too many other opportunities in the construction management business. I have a 2-year-old daughter and a wife, and I have to look at those priorities."
Billingham, nicknamed "Buddha," was so popular in Bill Koch's camp that his departure prompted a news release and retirement party.
"Koch was just great," Billingham said. "He said he understood, and I left without burning any bridges. I was feeling pretty bad about working there for 14 months and training for the event and saying, well, I gotta go now, but he took my sense of priorities to heart."
Billingham, along with Will Bayliss, was a member of John Kostecki's silver medal Soling crew at Pusan, South Korea. Kostecki also was with America 3 until leaving last year to concentrate on a Star class Olympic campaign.
The challengers' five-man international jury dismissed Espana '92's protest against Ville de Paris for having its inflatable chase boat pick up a headsail it left behind in Wednesday's race.
The decision, signed by chairman Graeme Owens of Australia, read: "It is the opinion of the International Jury that the actions taken by the chase boat were prudent and seamanlike in the circumstance."
The French got a big boost in horsepower this week when they returned from the race course to find 10 new, top-of-the-line Citroen XMs at their compound, courtesy of one of their supporting partners.
The cars are painted the same as the boat, Ville de Paris: blue on top and white on the bottom, with red stripes.
By a remarkable coincidence, Citroen chairman Xavier Karcher is the father of Ville de Paris grinder Christian Karcher.