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America's Cup Trials : Kookaburras Impress, Seize Favorite's Role

October 21, 1986|From Staff and Wire Reports

FREMANTLE, Australia — While the challengers regrouped between trial rounds, the Australians continued their racing Monday, with the Kookaburra boats seizing the favorite's role from the Alan Bond syndicate that won the cup in 1983.

Kookaburra III, which defeated Bond's Australia IV Sunday, beat Australia III by 4 minutes, 30 seconds for a third straight win.

Meanwhile, Australia IV skipper Colin Beashel managed to overtake the older Kookaburra II and win by 20 seconds only after rival Peter Gilmour's crew fouled up its spinnaker set while leading by eight seconds at the start of the last downwind leg.

The races were sailed in winds of 16 to 24 knots and light seas.

Among the challengers, in the meantime, the under-financed Courageous group, winner of only 1 of 12 races during the challengers' first series, apparently had considered buying Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes '85, the first of three new boats constructed for the San Diego Yacht Club skipper.

Conner's Sail America syndicate is still trying to raise some of the $15 million needed for its campaign.

According to some reports, Courageous had offered $1 million for Stars & Stripes '85, but Sail America executive Sandy Purdon said Monday in San Diego: "If they did (offer $1 million), we would have sold them the boat."

Purdon added: "They didn't come up with an offer," and Sail America had only discussed "what we had into the boat . . . about $750,000.

"But we're not really interested in selling the boat because we have some testing to do between rounds. It was a moot point, anyway, because '85 isn't legal because it wasn't measured."

Apparently, it was doubly moot because Courageous didn't have the money. Helmsman David Vietor said: "The backer we thought we had backed out. Miracles just don't happen."

Courageous IV, the much-modified defender in 1974 and 1977, was withdrawn from the trials last week. Vietor said he wants the yacht preserved.

"She's too good a boat and has been around too long to be sold off onto the junk heap," he said. "I would hope that she could end up either in a museum or as a starting base for a brand new 12-meter group . . . or simply be given to some of America's youth and let this dream touch them."

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