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America's Cup Trials : Eagle Syndicate Bemoans Its Lack of Wins, Dollars

October 22, 1986|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

The Eagle is flying on a wing and a prayer and souvenir sales are suffering, but nothing ails the 12-meter bird from Newport Beach that a few days in dry dock and a dollar transfusion can't cure.

That's the upbeat view of a syndicate official who briefed reporters Tuesday on changes being made to improve the boat's performance after a 4-8 showing in the first round of America's Cup challenger trials at Fremantle, Australia.

"I'm disappointed," syndicate president Gary Thomson said. "We should have won at least three more races than we did. Funding-wise, it hurts us."

Project specialist Bill Crispin said that the sale of Eagle paraphernalia at the Newport Beach office slumped significantly last week.

Thomson pointed out that first-round wins were worth only one point each, but they'll jump to five points in the second round starting Nov. 2, and 12 points in the third round in December.

"We've given up eight points is all, and there are 187 more points possible," Thomson said.

The top four boats after three rounds will enter the semifinals. Currently, Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes, New York's America II and New Zealand's fiberglass KZ7 are all 11-1, with San Francisco's USA and Britain's White Crusader at 8-4.

Eagle lost to all of those boats but hopes to reverse its fortunes with a new mast worth $80,000, a new boom that has been donated, modified keel, deeper rudder and 18 new sails worth $231,000 in its inventory.

America's Cup Notes According to Eagle president Gary Thomson, Australia's Alan Bond suspects that the controversial KZ7 from New Zealand was not monitored by Lloyd's Register during construction and may, indeed, be illegally built, as Dennis Conner has implied. Thomson said there is reason to believe that "only two of the three New Zealand boats were checked. The third wasn't, and that's the one they're sailing. I think that Dennis didn't press the issue because the New Zealanders could replace the boat at the end of the first round (but no later). I think ultimately the boat will be checked." The plan is to check all four semifinalists. At that point, an illegal boat would be disqualified. . . . Thomson said that Eagle had planned to build a fiberglass boat, "but we couldn't get Lloyd's to approve our plans in time." So they built Eagle of conventional aluminum. . . . In the continuing defender trials Tuesday, Bond's Australia IV, 3-1, trounced winless Steak'n Kidney by 9 minutes 1 second, and unbeaten Kookaburra III beat sister boat Kookaburra II by 2 seconds in the closest race of the trials. Winds were 24 to 27 knots and shifty. South Australia withdrew from its match against Australia II after bowman Andy Dyer was swept overboard. He was recovered unharmed.

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