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Computer Helps to Oust Isler From Courageous Helm

June 20, 1986|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

Peter Isler is out as helmsman for the Courageous IV syndicate, perhaps the first victim of a computer in the new high-tech era of sailing.

He has apparently joined Dennis Conner's Sail America effort to win the America's Cup.

Courageous syndicate chairman Leonard Greene planned to announce today that vice chairman David Vietor will steer the modified boat, but he denied that Isler has been fired.

"We have never named a skipper prior to this moment," Greene said by telephone Thursday from his Safe Flight Instrument Corp. in White Plains, N.Y.

However, most sailing publications have regarded Isler as Courageous' skipper since last fall. He was the skipper of record in the 12-meter world championships at Perth, Australia, last winter and he has won two recent major match racing series--the Citizens in New Zealand and the Royal Lymington Cup in England--with that identity.

Isler could not be reached in Hawaii, where he joined Conner's campaign in an undefined capacity Thursday. Isler was tactician for Dave Perry in the last four Congressional Cups at Long Beach, winning in 1983 and '84.

Greene said the decision was based on computer readouts.

"The committee found that when they compared the computerized analysis of performance of all helmsmen that sailed on Courageous during the training sessions for the 12-meter World Cup, Vietor's performance was superior," Greene said.

As for Isler, Greene said, "he never was skipper. He was an alternate helmsman. He, along with other helmsmen, have been sailing the boat. It's in our interests to use as skipper the one we have most confidence in.

"Vietor's sailing time aboard the two-time winner of the America's Cup (1974 and '77) is unparalleled. He has sailed as her tactician, navigator and skipper."

Other crew members have left the low-budget Courageous team since the 12-meter world championships, when the boat finished 12th out of 14. Three--Charlie Dwyer, Al Sears and Hal Palewicz--have joined the Eagle group from the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.

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