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A Collision Course Down Under
Sarah Ballard
February 24, 1986
The 12-meter world championship off Fremantle brought out a bright array of contenders for the '87 America's Cup
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February 24, 1986

A Collision Course Down Under

The 12-meter world championship off Fremantle brought out a bright array of contenders for the '87 America's Cup

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News has already begun to leak through the plastic curtain—mustang wings, diamond wings, delta wings, cigar wings. America II, competing at Fremantle, is the first of three new 12-meters that will represent the syndicate and has seven sets of wings that can be snapped on and off her keel at will. "We've probably imported more lead into Western Australia than anybody else," said Kolius.

As an indicator of things to come on the water, the world championship was more a bold reminder of the enormous energy being expended on America's Cup '87 than a provider of clues as to the potential winner. First, this was fleet racing, not match racing as the Cup will be. Second, most of the Twelves that did race will be replaced by newer boats by the time the trials begin. Finally, two major syndicates stayed away—Conner's Sail America and Taskforce '87, Bond's closest Australian rival, which chose to race its two Kookaburras against each other out on the horizon.

As a preview of coming attractions onshore, the event was both festive and ominous. The Italians, as has become customary in their brief association with the Cup, are doing things in lavish style, throwing the best parties, building the grandest quarters, designing the prettiest boats. And the Australians have wrought miracles, creating facilities for boats, media and tourists virtually overnight.

These, however, were the trimmings. Behind the festive facade tension is building, what with chain-link fences, plastic curtains and devices to foil prying underwater cameras. Time is running short, ever more money is frantically being sought and internal battles are breaking out within previously united syndicates. In short, the smell of war is in the air.

But, oh, what a lovely war it promises to be.

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