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Sailing : Gerry Driscoll Added to Eagle Syndicate Staff

February 12, 1986|ALMON LOCKABEY

Gerry Driscoll, San Diego boat builder and a world-class sailor, has been added to the staff of Newport Harbor Yacht Club's Eagle syndicate, which hopes to challenge for the America's Cup in 1987.

Driscoll has been named operations manager for the syndicate, a position which involves overseeing the final stages of the building of the 12-meter Eagle, now nearing completion in Newport, R.I., and taking charge of the syndicate's shore and waterfront facilities in Perth, Australia, site of the 1987 America's Cup trials later this year.

The Cup defense will also be held in Perth in late January, 1987.

Said Gary Thomson, president of the Eagle syndicate: "The addition of Gerry to our staff, along with his experience in 12-meter design and racing, is the best thing that has happened to Eagle."

Driscoll has a wide background in yacht design, building and racing. He won the world Star class championship in 1944, when he was 17.

His experience in 12-meter sailing dates back to 1964, when he was skipper of the 12-meter Nereus, a trial horse for Constellation, the Cup defender.

In 1967 he modified the 12-meter Columbia, the 1958 winner, for Pat Dougan of Newport Beach, who campaigned it unsuccessfully in 1964 and 1967. In the 1970 campaign, won by Bill Ficker on Intrepid, Driscoll served as tactician on Valiant. In 1980 he sailed Intrepid as a trial horse for Baron Bich, unsuccessful contender on France III.

Driscoll is the only skipper who has won two consecutive Congressional Cup match racing series with perfect scores. He sailed the Cal-40 Blue Marlin in the first two Congressional Cup series in 1965 and '66.

After its completion in Newport, the 12-meter Eagle will be trucked to Southern California, where it is due for launching at Newport Beach April 5.

It will be fitted with new "mystery keel" here before it begins practice racing off Long Beach, then will be shipped to Australia to compete with more than a dozen U.S. and foreign challengers for the right to meet the as yet unnamed Australian defender.

The Aussies aboard the 12-meter Australia II won the Cup from the United States in 1983, ending a 132-year domination of yachting's hallowed prize by the New York Yacht Club.

The Eagle Syndicate is one of half a dozen U.S. syndicates, among them the New York Yacht Club's America II, seeking to return the Cup to this country. There are also challengers from Canada, England, France, Italy and New Zealand.

More than 70 yachtsmen from San Diego to San Francisco attended a memorial last week for Kenneth Watts, a Torrance sail maker who died recently.

Watts, a renowned sail maker dating back to the early 1930s, made the first sails for Chubasco, the 67-foot yacht built in 1939 for the late W.T. Stewart. He also made championship sails for numerous sailboat classes, including 12-meters in America's Cup competition.

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