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Murray Insists It Wasn't His Yacht's Cup to Lose

March 11, 1987|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

"We won it. Don't you lose it." --ALAN BOND,

1983 America's Cup winner

Alan Bond's warning to Australian rival Kevin Parry after the America's Cup defender trials rolled off Iain Murray's back like salt water.

The skipper of Kookaburra III says now as he said then: "We never won it, so how could we lose it?"

Murray, in Long Beach to sail in the 23rd Congressional Cup starting today, isn't even sure that Dennis Conner won in 1987, any more than Bond and skipper John Bertrand did in '83.

"It was the same as '83," Murray said. "The guy that had the boat-speed advantage won."

So maybe the Cup should have been presented to Ben Lexcen and John Marshall, who headed the design teams for Australia II in '83 and Stars & Stripes '87, respectively. If Liberty is to be blamed for Conner's defeat in '83, how can he be credited for winning with Stars & Stripes in '87?

"The skipper holds the whole crew together, but he's not necessarily going to sail the boat any faster," Murray said. "(Starting helmsman) Peter Gilmour could have sailed our boat equally as well as I could, and in a short time (tactician) Tom Whidden could sail their boat as well as Dennis.

"They got their design right. It's as simple as that in my mind."

Bertrand has implied that the Australians in general weren't as dedicated to keeping the Cup as his team was to winning it in '83.

"I don't think he was criticizing us," Murray said. "I think he was criticizing the system. I can tell you, we worked a lot harder than they did in '83 . . . a lot longer and a lot harder, in many different ways.

"But you've gotta have the boat. If you don't have the boat, it doesn't matter how good your crew is. There wasn't anything wrong with our crew."

Murray would have a better chance to prove his point in the Congressional if Conner were competing. The 10 crews will sail identically tuned production Catalina 38 sloops with identically cut sails. They also will rotate boats after each day of competition.

The only instrument permitted is a compass. Knotmeters, wind indicators and the sophisticated computers used on 12-meters are out. Rig tension and mast position are preset and no adjustments are allowed in a painstaking quest for a test of pure sailing skill.

Congressional Cup Notes Each skipper will sail once against each other skipper over a period of four days, with Sunday left open for a sail-off or lay day, if necessary. Iain Murray will open with three tough races against two-time champion Dave Perry, '84 Olympic Soling gold medalist Robbie Haines and New Zealand's Chris Dickson. The committee will try to stage three rounds today, wind permitting. . . . America's Cup skippers Marc Pajot of France and Mauro Pellaschier of Italy withdrew only last Thursday, forcing the Long Beach Yacht Club committee to scramble for replacements. They sought Ted Turner, America II skipper John Kolius and Canada's Terry Neilson, among others, and finally got Olympic gold medalist Carl Buchan of Seattle and local veteran Barney Flam, who will be sailing in a record 10th Congressional Cup, although his last was in '78.

Congressional Cup

PAST WINNERS Year--Winner 1965--Gerry Driscoll

1966--Gerry Driscoll

1967--Scott Allan

1968--Skip Allan

1969--Henry Sprague III

1970--Argyle Campbell

1971--Tom Pickard

1972--Argyle Campbell

1973--Dennis Conner

1974--Bill Ficker

1975--Dennis Conner

1976--Dick Deaver

1977--Ted Turner

1978--Dick Deaver

1979--Dennis Durgan

1980--Dennis Durgan

1981--Rod Davis

1982--Scott Perry

1983--Dave Perry

1984--Dave Perry

1985--Rod Davis

1986--Harold Cudmore

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