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The America's Cup : Two Kiwis Recall Past Race Glory at Reunion

September 09, 1988|TOM KRASOVIC | Special to The Times

SAN DIEGO — It would take little to trigger Auld Lang Syne from anyone who is participating in this America's Cup.

But this was more than a faint image from the past.

Far away, next to the docked New Zealand, the Kiwi aircraft carrier of a sailboat, a red-faced man approached in a boat that, in comparison, resembled a toy.

"Dickson?" whispered Andrew Taylor.

Taylor sprang to his feet and trotted to the dock.

"God, it is Dickson."

Chris Dickson, the young skipper who had looked Dennis Conner in the eye before finally blinking, was paying a visit to his Kiwi brethren.

Taylor and Dickson had sailed together in a race neither they nor New Zealand will soon forget. That day 15 months ago, Dickson had asked more of Taylor than perhaps a sadist would, and Taylor had responded.

"That race was the highlight of my sailing career," recalled Taylor.

Scene:

The Americans hold a 2-0 lead over the Kiwis entering Race 3 of the best-of-four Cup challenger trials in Fremantle, Australia.

The two 12-meter boats, Kiwi Magic and Stars & Stripes, slug it out on an 8-leg, 25-mile course.

This was sailing.

The race was brutal. One-hundred and thirty times, Dickson asked his crew to tack, a laborious chore that zig-zags the boat into the wind.

Taylor, a grinder, spent most of the three hours hunched over, pumping a winch with his muscular arms.

Or he pitched in elsewhere. A huge, wetted sail needed to be moved quickly? There was Taylor. It needed to be bagged? There was Taylor.

Finally, the race ended. The Kiwis had won. Taylor could not celebrate.

"At the end of that, I was absolutely stuffed," said Taylor, 25, whose side lost the next race. "They took me and the other grinder to a press conference. I could hardly talk. It was the most tired I've ever been. Definitely.

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