The five syndicates eliminated last Friday from consideration for the America's Cup trials probably don't realize what a favor was done them by San Diego's America's Cup Organizing Committee.
At first glance, the act smacked of the arrogance of the old days, when the New York Yacht Club was running the Cup. After watching the potential defenders sail a few races among themselves, the race committee, wearing traditional blue blazers, straw hats and red pants, would cruise over and politely inform a luckless skipper that he was excused from further competition.
The late Tom Blackaller, who was inevitably excused, railed at the system, which was scrapped when the Royal Perth Yacht Club, as host of the 1986-87 defense for Australia, switched to the innovative method of picking the survivors on victories and defeats.
The New York Yacht Club never thought of that.
The ACOC, which is managing the 1992 defense for the San Diego Yacht Club, simply refined the New York system by excusing apparent non-contenders before they could waste money they didn't have building boats they wouldn't sail as well as some others in the fight.
"It's not the old straw hats, red pants routine," said Tom Ehman, the ACOC chief. "This is a much sounder process. We've borrowed a page from both New York and Royal Perth."
Ehman said he talked to Stan Reid, who was commodore of the Royal Perth during the '86-87 defense.
"Stan said, 'You have significantly strengthened your defense. We should have done the same. And you've done the (five) a favor.' "
Reid always felt that Australia's cause was hurt by allowing too many weak syndicates to clutter up the defense program for too long, diluting the competition and available sponsorship funds.
Of the five excused syndicates--Advance America, Betsy Ross, Christina, U.S. Women's and Yankee--only two were able to meet the deadline for posting a $150,000 performance bond for programs that will cost about $15 million each. They also were asked to show evidence that they could raise $6 million to build boats by the end of the year. Some still lacked design plans or sailing programs.
"But in the financial area, none of them had developed the $6 million capability," Ehman said.
Ehman added: "I hope you'll print that each of the five was serious and spent a lot of time trying to make it happen. There weren't any T-shirt salesmen or shoe clerks."
The four syndicates remaining--Team Dennis Conner, (Peter) Isler Sailing International, Larry Klein's Triumph America and Beach Boys America--will continue to share in the Partnership for America's Cup Technology (PACT) to cut costs for all by pooling research and design--up to a point.
Pete Ives, long a respected international racing judge, now merits respect as a sailor, as well.
Ives, of Long Beach, swept the field in the recent Audi/North Sails Race Week.
Sailing Ravage, his modified Newport 30 turned 33, he won Class G, along with the Quattro Trophy for winning the most competitive class, the Lydia Kent Trophy for the best family-sailed boat (minimum of three members) and led the Long Beach Yacht Club to the three-boat team trophy.
Carolyn Ulander, 20, of Costa Mesa, has been added to the U.S. sailing team in the Olympic Yachting Committee's program designed to fund and train the top five sailors in each class for the '92 Games at Barcelona. Ulander, a graduate of Newport Harbor High School who attends Connecticut College, won the spot recently by placing third in the new Europe dinghy class of the U.S. women's single-handed championships at Marblehead, Mass.
Although the America's Cup Organizing Committee has eliminated both women's syndicates from the defense competition, J.J. Isler says there are some individuals who would qualify as crew members. She is one, of course, but is going to concentrate on another Olympic campaign for '92. Two women who should be considered are Martha McKechnie, a regular in major events, and Dory Vogel, who was Isler's backup navigator with Dennis Conner in '87. There will be a crew weight limit of about 195 pounds a person in the new America's Cup class. "The teams are going to have to go with smaller people (to bring the average down)," Isler said. "The grinders will be bigger than that."
The Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club will hold the CBYC-Texaco Starport Regatta July 14-15, with five races in one-design and three PHRF classes. . . . John MacLaurin of Los Angeles, second and first in the first two Ultimate series pro events at Hawaii and San Francisco, will compete next at Corpus Christi, Tex., this weekend. . . . An exhibit of Geri Conser's sailboat racing photography is being featured at the Maritime Museum in San Pedro through Sept. 30.