FREMANTLE, Australia — The New York Yacht Club's America II beat wild weather, San Francisco's USA and a blockade of angry lobstermen Sunday to set up a second-round showdown with New Zealand today in the America's Cup challenger trials.
America II's only loss in 19 races has been to New Zealand, which has lost only to Dennis Conner. America II skipper John Kolius trounced Tom Blackaller on USA by 1:18 in sail-shredding, 26- to 30-knot winds that sent two South Australian crewmen overboard.
Paul Cayard, tactician on the double-ruddered USA, said: "We haven't quite figured out how to make the boat go fast upwind in that kind of condition."
Lobstermen protesting against the government's reduced catch quotas formed a blockade to stop the contenders from reaching the race courses, but failed to even delay the challenger and defender matches.
About 50 fishing vessels sailed back and forth across the narrow passage from Fremantle Harbor. The tender pulling America II sounded horns and managed to maneuver through the obstructing boats while the onshore crowd cheered, with the remaining competitors following America II.
New Zealand routed Canada II by 3:10, Conner's Stars & Stripes remained third with a 2:34 clobbering of French Kiss, Italia whipped Newport Beach's Eagle by 1:29, Chicago's Heart of America snapped an eight-race losing streak with a 1:41 triumph over Italy's hapless Azzurra and Great Britain's White Crusader tied USA in fourth place with a devastating 11:53 win over Challenge France.
The golden-hulled Kookaburras triumphed again to monopolize first and third place in the second round of the defender's competition. Kookaburra II defeated world champion Australia III by 2:07, while Kookaburra III came from behind an improved Steak 'n Kidney for a four-minute win.
With the heavy winds whipping up steep swells, race official shortened the defenders' eight-legged course to six to prevent more havoc after the rescue of two South Australian crewmen swept overboard while trying to retrieve a headsail dragging in the angry seas.
Yachtsmen Andy Dyer and Peter Wall-Smith were picked up by the chase boat.
America's Cup Notes Syndicate officials hailed the decision of the International Yacht Racing Union meeting in London lifting the advertising ban on boats and clothing. The ruling "will have an enormous impact on future world sailing events," said Great Britain's White Crusader chief executive David Arnold, whose syndicate received $3 million from White Horse whiskey.