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America's Cup : Conner Presses Bid to Check New Zealand

October 15, 1986|From Staff and Wire Reports

FREMANTLE, Australia — Dennis Conner, seeking support in his campaign to inspect New Zealand's unique--and unbeaten--fiberglass boat, today called for an urgent meeting of the 13 challengers from six countries to urge organizers to take core samples of the 12-meter boat designated KZ7.

The issue is being compared to the New York Yacht Club's attempt to have Australia II's winged keel ruled illegal in 1983. The NYYC spent six weeks unsuccessfully trying to expel Australia II, the boat that went on to defeat Conner's Liberty and snap the 132-year-long U.S. winning streak.

This time officials with the NYYC's America II syndicate want no part of the uproar.

"We're not involved with the fiberglass controversy," Chairman Richard M. Devos said. "We're not the judge nor the jury. It's not up to us to stir it up. Conner has chosen to. I guess we will let him carry that ball."

Meanwhile, Chris Dickson lost a crewman overboard, then retrieved him before the start and sailed KZ7 to its eighth straight victory by a lopsided four minutes over Britain's White Crusader (6-3), which was expected to give a better battle.

Conner's Sail America syndicate has said it fears that the development of fiberglass boats could render conventional aluminium construction obsolete. Dickson has suggested that fiberglass 12-meters will outnumber aluminum at the next America's Cup in 1990.

In a letter sent to the teams vying for the challenger's berth, Sail America officials representing the San Diego Yacht Club said: "Not checking KZ7 very carefully for this series may well send a signal to future builders of glass Twelves that if they can slip something past Lloyd's (surveyors), they are home free with no danger of ever getting caught.

"As time goes by, it becomes increasingly unfair to both the New Zealanders and the other challengers if our request remains open and KZ7 subject to future protest."

Conner has indicated he will protest New Zealand when they meet Thursday.

America's Cup Notes Newport Beach's Eagle (4-4) again sailing in lighter wind than it prefers, lost Tuesday by a convincing 1 minute 34 seconds to Italia, 5-3. Afterward, skipper Rod Davis said his syndicate planned several changes to both the boat and its sail inventory before the second round. Eagle is scheduled to race New Zealand (8-0) today. . . . Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes picked up an easy win when Courageous IV withdrew with a broken boom. Stars & Stripes thereby remained in a second-place tie at 7-1 with America II, which beat Chicago's Heart of America (2-7) by 4:06.

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