SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff
September 21, 1987
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September 21, 1987


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The San Diego Yacht Club, holder and defender of the America's Cup, staged a strange press conference last week. After months of fratricidal wrangling, the club's Cup committee announced that the next Cup defense will be held in the waters off San Diego in 1991—unless it is held in 1988, in which case it might be sailed somewhere else.

The uncertainty is thanks to Michael Fay, the tall, smooth-talking New Zealander who financed the Kiwis' surprisingly successful first-time challenge in Fremantle last winter. Brandishing the Deed of Gift, the legal document that for 100 years has governed the conditions of Cup competition, Fay, on behalf of the Mercury Bay Boating Club of New Zealand, has challenged the San Diegans to a best-of-three-race series to begin next summer and to be sailed not in Twelves, the Cup boat since 1958, but in vessels akin in size to the enormous 130-foot-long J boats that raced for the Cup in the 1930s.

San Diego at first simply ignored the challenge. But Fay has gone to court to force the issue. If the New York State Supreme Court, which administers the Deed and should begin to review the case this week, rules in the Kiwis' favor, San Diego may have no choice. "The Deed confers rights and obligations," says Fay mischievously, suggesting he hasn't forgotten that in Fremantle, Dennis Conner & Co. had accused New Zealand of cheating. "When you read the Deed closely, it is very, very clear. The challenger has the right to name when he will come and what boat he will sail."

Strictly speaking, Fay may have a strong case. When all parties to an America's Cup challenge agree, the Deed of Gift can be essentially ignored. But in case of a disagreement, the Deed is quite specific. What's more, Fay posits some seductive reasons for a Cup on his terms. A shorter campaign, he says, would cut the cost of an America's Cup adventure in half. Further, the longer a boat is, the faster it goes. Anything that would add drama to racing in the light winds and tame seas off San Diego is welcome.

If, that is, the competition is even held in California. Should San Diego lose in court, says Gerald Driscoll of the club's Cup committee, "All aspects of the match would be reconsidered," including the venue. If that were to put wonderfully windy Hawaii in the running again, a lot of newfound America's Cup fans would have good reason to raise a toast to the merry meddler from New Zealand.

On the lush and sylvan grounds of the Morris Williams Golf Course in Austin, Texas, a new hazard has cropped up, and it's enough to give even the most serene golfer a case of the yips. Three times in recent weeks a casually dressed male, genial but armed with a handgun, has hopped out of the woods to relieve golfers of their wallets or the contents thereof. Afterward the thief has slipped back into the woods, though not before telling his victims on each occasion to carry on with their game. According to Austin parks and recreation director Charles Jordan, security has been tightened at Morris Williams since the incidents began, and it will remain tight until a suspect is in custody. "One of the ways you do that," says Jordan, "is by encouraging your law officers to play for free when they're off duty."


We're not feeling well. That's because we just read the 1987 Atlanta Falcons media guide. Here's a sampling of the, uh, prose therein.

On quarterback Dave Archer: "William Tell may have been an archer of skill, but Dave is an Archer whose skills we want to tell."

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