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New Zealand Group Refuses to Race in San Pedro Bay

February 11, 1988|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

Leaders of New Zealand's sailing syndicate say contesting the America's Cup in their monohull against Sail America's catamaran will be "a bloody farce," and they aren't even thinking about doing it in San Pedro Bay.

"We are shipping our boat to San Diego," spokesman Peter Debreceny said by phone from Auckland Wednesday.

Also, the syndicate's New York lawyer, George Tompkins, said: "If on the day of the first race we're in San Diego and they're in San Pedro, we'd go to court the next day and ask for forfeiture of the Cup.

"Common sense would dictate that the defense has to be in (what is considered to be) the home waters of the defender at the time the challenge is issued."

Otherwise, Tompkins says, the defender need only wait until the challenger, as required, commits his boat design to the anticipated conditions, then move to a venue with different conditions--precisely what Sail America plans to do.

"They're playing Russian roulette," Tompkins said. "San Diego has to sail us in accordance with the notice of challenge."

The statements followed syndicate chief Michael Fay's earlier objections about having the races outside San Diego.

Meanwhile, Sail America proceeded with plans to base its boat operations in Long Beach and sail the defense in the San Pedro Channel somewhere between Pt. Fermin and Seal Beach.

Dennis Conner has been designated as the skipper, but a more experienced, world-class catamaran sailor--probably Randy Smyth of Huntington Beach or Cam Lewis of Newport, R.I.--will actually steer.

Fay's "New Zealand" is scheduled to be launched March 27 in San Diego after a trip from Auckland, N.Z.

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