AMERICA’S CUP : Mighty Mary Is Proud Mary in Upset Victory


Five minutes into the first race of the America’s Cup defender finals, the sailing was reminiscent of the round-robin and the semifinal competition.

PACT 95’s Young America was already in the lead, crossing in front of America 3’s Mighty Mary on a starboard tack. The dominant boat all through the trials was picking up where it had left off.

But then Mighty Mary’s crew--15 women and one man--rewrote the script. Before long, Mighty Mary was the one doing the crossing and slamming before that first windward leg was finished. And it was the one sailing across the finish line with a 48-second victory.


Thus, after one race lasting 2 1/2 hours, the plot has undergone an interesting twist. Obviously, the women’s boat, as it is called, is more of a force as the competition heads to its most critical period. After winning five races in the four round-robin series, it went 4-5 in the semifinals. And then came Monday.

The defender finals are already a bit on the congested side, what with Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes in the fray as well. Young America began the defender finals with a two-point head start because it had been the No. 1 boat in the semifinals. And Mighty Mary entered with one point as the No. 2 boat. After Monday’s race, Young America and Mighty Mary are even with two points each.

“This is the first time in a while we’ve been on even footing with them,” Mighty Mary skipper Leslie Egnot said. “And two-up on Dennis as well. We did some things with our configuration and I think it helped.”

Team Conner’s progress will get a reading today when it sails against Young America. Stars & Stripes has not beaten Young America since early in the fourth round-robin.

The challengers also start their final series today, a best-of-nine between Team New Zealand and oneAustralia. This race will also be a benchmark for between-series progress, because Team New Zealand is unbeaten on the water in 32 races. It suffered its one loss in the protest room.