AMERICA'S CUP : Mighty Mary Sails Through Controversy to Score an Upset


Bill Koch has taken considerable heat since Saturday's decision to add a male to his previously all-female America 3crew, but that heat might be downright balmy when compared to the scorching the 15+1 Mighty Mary applied to Dennis Conner's boat Monday.

With David Dellenbaugh aboard as tactician again, Mighty Mary defeated Stars & Stripes by 1 minute 36 seconds in a race that cast a different light on the America's Cup defender semifinals. Mighty Mary was impressive in a loss Saturday to Young America and even more impressive in victory Monday.

In a race in which a defeat would have been devastating, Mighty Mary stretched a lead to 2:10 over the first four of six legs and then coasted in without a challenge. So now, America 3and Team Dennis Conner each have one point and trail Young America by two. The difference is that America 3earned its point on the water and Team Conner got its point as a bonus for finishing second in the four round-robin series.

The revitalization of his team's chances will probably soothe whatever sensitivities Koch might be feeling after being hit with a barrage of suggestions that he copped out when he put Dellenbaugh on the boat. He had unveiled his all-female effort with much ballyhoo and sponsors' support. He has defensively said that his sponsors, including one he would not name with a women-only contractual clause, have stayed with him.

ESPN cast a cynical light on Koch's commitment Monday when it released a transcript of an interview of Koch on March 6 by Jim Kelly, one of the network's commentators. Pressed by Kelly on whether any circumstances would result in a male being added to the crew, Koch said, " . . . you will not see any males on that first 16."

Koch now maintains, "My point has always been to win."

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