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Kookaburra Leads Field for Defenders

November 09, 1986|From Staff and Wire Reports

FREMANTLE, Australia — Competition resumes today in the America's Cup challenger trials, as does the second round of defender trials among six boats from four Australian syndicates.

Kookaburra III leads the defenders. Officials for the rival Alan Bond syndicate decided against major changes for Australia III and concentrated, instead, on second-place Australia IV, the yacht that 1983 Cup winner Bond is banking on to defend the trophy.

Executive director Warren Jones said: "You don't panic and run around with a jig-saw. Plenty of 12-meters get cut up because they're not fast enough, when it could have been the fault of the rig, the sails or the people sailing them."

Australia IV was in the shed for two days for what Jones described as "minor changes."

Kookaburra III Skipper Iain Murray said no major changes were made on his boat during the break.

"We haven't touched Kookaburra III, but we've mucked around with Kookaburra II," he said.

South Australia project manager Scott McAllister said modifications to the keel have sparked hopes of an improved performance.

"We believe we'll do better this time," McAllister said. "We have to do better or we're in trouble."

Steak 'n Kidney officials rushed to complete major keel and hull changes.

Said Syd Fischer, head of the Eastern Australian Defence Syndicate: "Both the Kookaburra and Australia syndicates have been over here sailing for three years. They wouldn't race against us (Steak 'n Kidney) in the pre-defense workup period, so all we had to compare ourselves against was the top challengers.

"We were able to hold and beat them most occasions, but that was not enough to win races in round one."

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