The court battle between the San Diego Yacht Club, defender of the America's Cup, and its New Zealand challenger took an unexpected turn on Monday when New York State Supreme Court Justice Carmen B. Ciparick ordered the competition to begin on Sept. 19 off San Diego. The judge rejected the New Zealanders' petition to hold the defender in contempt of court if it entered a catamaran, a design that sailing experts regard as clearly faster than the 133-foot monohull the challengers have built and plan to sail. "Nothing in this decision should be interpreted as indicating that multihulled boats are either permitted or barred under the America's Cup Deed of Gift," said Judge Ciparick, who added that any more complaints between the two parties could be brought to the court after the race.
The decision was hailed as a victory by Tom Ehman, chief operating officer of Sail America,' which is handling SDYC's defense. "The judge is saying, 'Go race the race, boys.' " said Ehman, "and she's also telling [ New Zealand challenger] Michael Fay, 'You don't know what kind of boat San Diego is showing up with until the day of the race, and San Diego doesn't have to tell you.' " A spokesman for the New Zealand syndicate, Peter Debreceny, said, "If it's a mismatch, it will destroy the future of the America's Cup.... But the judge has ordered us to sail, and we are ready to sail, mismatch or not."
When Fay, citing the 1887 Deed of Gift, first won the right to compete for the America's Cup this year in boats twice as large as the traditional 12-meter yachts, there was genuine excitement in the sailing world—the prospect of a return to yachts the size and grandeur of those in the J-boat era. But after months of litigation and the decision by the San Diego Yacht Club to employ a catamaran, it seemed that the contest had more to do with spitting than with sailing. The judge was saying, in effect. Behave like the gentlemen you're supposed to be; get out of court and settle this at sea.
THE GIRLS OF SUMMER
There's a baseball league in Glenview, Ill., with a difference. It's the two-team American Women's Baseball Association (AWBA), and though the pitcher's mound is only 50 feet from home plate and the bases are 80 feet apart, real women are playing real hardball on Saturday mornings this summer.
The AWBA was founded by Darlene Mehrer, a 44-year-old free-lance editor in Glenview, a suburb of Chicago. Mehrer, an avid Chicago Cub fan who also puts out a newsletter called Base Woman, had attended a fantasy camp run by former Cub catcher Randy Hundley last year and wanted to pursue her interest in the game even further. "I couldn't find a league, so I started one," she says. Her league has 34 players, ranging in age from 17 to 55 and in occupation from bookkeeper to veterinarian. The only other concessions the league makes to gender besides the shorter distances are seven-inning games and a ban on stealing. "If I could throw runners out, we might have had stealing," says Mehrer, a catcher for the Gators.
The spiritual foremother of the new league is the All American Girls Baseball League, a four-team loop that was started in 1943 by Cub owner Phil Wrigley and that survived until 1954. Seven alumnae of that league were among the 100 spectators at the official debut of the AWBA on July 16 at Elm Park in Glenview. In the first game the Daredevils defeated the Gators 11-6. The heroine of the day was Daredevils shortstop Kathy Landeweer, a 29-year-old house painter from Arlington Heights, Ill., who hit a three-run homer. Mehrer was disappointed in her own performance—she was fanned all three times up—but she says, "Everybody had a great time."
SOCK IT TO EM
Marty Noble, who covers the New York Mets for Newsday, walked into their clubhouse the other day and noticed that relief pitcher Randy Myers was wearing argyle socks.