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Conner Backer Raps Davis for Sailing With the Kiwis

January 03, 1987|RICH ROBERTS

FREMANTLE, Australia — A member of Dennis Conner's syndicate has complained to Rod Davis about the Eagle skipper sailing with New Zealand, which will be Conner's opponent in the America's Cup challenger final starting Jan. 13.

After Eagle was eliminated in the trial rounds, Davis spent two days sailing one of New Zealand's backup boats, KZ5, against Chris Dickson's KZ7 in practice starts last week.

Robert Hopkins, design test manager for Sail America, phoned Davis Friday morning.

"He said he thought I was detracting from their effort to win back the America's Cup," Davis said. "He was serious.

"Apparently, he couldn't figure out the advantages of it. None of us (Americans) knew anything about fiberglass 12-meters before. Now I know more about them than they do.

"I offered to help Dennis with sails or anything else, but they never responded--not even a yes or no."

Hopkins said of Davis' offer, "I didn't know that. But I still don't think him sailing with New Zealand helps us."

The two aren't strangers. Hopkins was the coach of the U.S. Olympic sailing team in 1984 when Davis won a gold medal as a crewman in the Soling class.

Davis said that before he sailed with New Zealand he consulted with Eagle syndicate Manager L.J. Edgcomb "about the political implications, and we decided we'd have more to gain from it than the Kiwis."

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