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AMERICA'S CUP 1987 : Notebook : Aussies' Battling Rages On

January 30, 1987|EDITOR'S NOTE: Stories for this special America's Cup section were written by Rich Roberts, Times staff writer, who has been on assignment in Fremantle, Australia, since late November. Roberts, a recreational sailor, has written extensively about the sport and covered all classes of sailing for The Times during the 1984 Olympics. He will report on the final series, along with Times' sports columnist Mike Downey.

FREMANTLE, Australia — Kevin Parry's attack on rival Alan Bond was partly touched off by a boxing kangaroo.

Information surfaced that Bond apparently had agreed to lend Parry's Kookaburra syndicate his boxing kangaroo battle flag, then changed his mind when Kookaburra III won.

Bond first used the flag when he won the cup at Newport, R.I., in 1983.

But Parry told Bond: "I don't think the kangaroo belongs to you."

Kookaburra syndicate spokesman Tim Flynn said: "We looked to using the boxing kangaroo as a national symbol. (It) is an Australian sporting symbol."

Parry called Bond "childish" for needling him, "If you lose it (the cup), we'll have to go get it back."

When Parry left on a business trip to China, the Kookaburra syndicate's public relations took another plunge. Syndicate chief executive Malcolm Bailey tongue-lashed West Australian columnist John Hamilton, who had written about Parry's tirade and the lack of excitement over the Kookaburra victory.

Hamilton had been invited with three other Australian journalists to interview skipper Iain Murray at the Kookaburra shore-side compound but was confronted first by Bailey.

"You're Hamilton?" Bailey said. "You're pathetic."

As Bailey continued, Hamilton said: "I don't have to take this," wheeled and left.

He never met Murray. He planned to write about his meeting with Bailey, instead.

Germany, whose sea power ebbed when the Bismarck went down, is plotting a comeback in the America's Cup.

Ulli Libor, 46, announced formation of a syndicate from the Federal Republic for a 1990 challenge, supported by a consortium of Boot-Dusseldorf, West Germany's largest trade fair.

"With such a battle of high technology going on, it's not good for us at all to be out out if," Libor said.

That reasoning has won the support of West German industry, but Libor, who won Olympic silver and bronze medals in 1968 and '72, anticipates a more difficult problem in selling the cup to the West German people.

The idea, Libor said, is to have the German people doing it with German industry supporting it. "What we have to do is change the image of the America's Cup in Germany from that of a few egos playing around with some very expensive boats and tell the German people that the America's Cup is a very important sporting event."

Libor may not realize that the same problem exists in other countries, such as the United States, but he hopes to sell it with a massive promotional campaign appealing to national pride.

"We will demonstrate the German high technology in a variety of ways," Libor said.

He mentioned computers and "chemical technology with resins," indicating an inclination toward fiberglass boats.

"We'll go for fiberglass because that's the way to go," he said.

Libor will start by hiring foreign sailors with 12-meter experience to coach West German crews over the next three years and plans to buy two 12-meter boats for them to sail.

"The cheapest I can get," he said.

No worries, mate. It's a buyer's market for 12-meters in Fremantle right now.

"We just need two to fight against each other so the German people can see it," Libor said. "Our background at the 12-meter level is nil."

Despite the Germans' intentions, nobody has been talking about a 12-meter fiberglass revolution.

"My personal opinion is that aluminum's just fine," said Dennis Conner.

But the Stars & Stripes skipper also isn't totally sold on sailing the America's Cup in the 12-meter configuration, either.

"The (organizing) yacht club can change the deed of gift to read anything it wants," Conner said. "They don't have to race in 12-meters. They've raced in 17 different boats in the 25 defenses."

Only the last 10, since 1958, have been in 12-meters.

"I can see a change," Conner said. "Why not? You change to keep pace with the times.

"You could do the same thing in something that would go twice as fast and not cost any more money and would be a lot more exciting for the people to watch.

"Just open your mind up. These boats are dinosaurs."

Having said that, Conner said he wasn't proposing a switch to another formula.

"I didn't say that. I'm just saying the yacht club can change the deed of gift."

Bond complained recently about the Royal Perth Yacht Club's proposal to keep a potential $2 million in America's Cup profits for its own purposes rather than distributing it among the defender syndicates, which are running on deficits.

He didn't evoke much sympathy.

Before returning from Hong Kong last weekend for the truce with Kevin Parry and Kookaburra, Bond wrapped up a deal to acquire 23.77% of Hong Kong's two commercial television stations for $181 million.

Earlier, Bond Corp. International had invested a similar amount in Hong Kong real estate, apparently anticipating a bonanza when the British crown colony reverts to Chinese control in 1997.

Meanwhile, Parry Corp. is working on major deals with the Chinese government, including media interests.

What's a few million spent on 12-meter toys?

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