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THE MOMENTS THAT WIN RACES
Peter Scott
August 24, 1964
Sailboat races arc not always to the swift. In "Constellation" and "American Eagle" the U.S. has two potential cup defenders, either of which could no doubt hold her own against Britain's "Sovereign" and "Kurrewa" (see cover and page 27) if speed were the only criterion. During the next three weeks, therefore, as it tries to decide which of the two new yachts to pick as defender or whether to pass both of them by in favor of old "Nefertiti" or older "Columbia," the U.S. selection committee will be less concerned with a boat's speed when she is footing than with her crew's behavior in the jibes, tacks and sail changes—the seconds when alacrity on deck and a skipper's split-second judgment are what matter most. Properly handled, the spinnaker heading aloft in a tight bundle on "Eagle's" lee side as she nears a windward mark in the picture opposite may open at the precise moment necessary to give her a huge downwind advantage over her opponent. On the other hand, impatience, clumsiness, an order barked too soon or too late may turn the big chute into a vast, flapping handicap. As shown on the following pages, the crews of "Eagle" and "Constellation" have practiced maneuvers like these in turn after turn during race after race, knowing that only by their near perfect execution can the cup be successfully defended.
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August 24, 1964

The Moments That Win Races

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Sailboat races arc not always to the swift. In "Constellation" and "American Eagle" the U.S. has two potential cup defenders, either of which could no doubt hold her own against Britain's "Sovereign" and "Kurrewa" (see cover and page 27) if speed were the only criterion. During the next three weeks, therefore, as it tries to decide which of the two new yachts to pick as defender or whether to pass both of them by in favor of old "Nefertiti" or older " Columbia," the U.S. selection committee will be less concerned with a boat's speed when she is footing than with her crew's behavior in the jibes, tacks and sail changes—the seconds when alacrity on deck and a skipper's split-second judgment are what matter most. Properly handled, the spinnaker heading aloft in a tight bundle on "Eagle's" lee side as she nears a windward mark in the picture opposite may open at the precise moment necessary to give her a huge downwind advantage over her opponent. On the other hand, impatience, clumsiness, an order barked too soon or too late may turn the big chute into a vast, flapping handicap. As shown on the following pages, the crews of "Eagle" and "Constellation" have practiced maneuvers like these in turn after turn during race after race, knowing that only by their near perfect execution can the cup be successfully defended.

For the first time in the century-old history of America's Cup racing, the challenging boat from overseas will be selected only after a grueling schedule of trials in U.S. waters—the waters in which the winning boat will race for the cup itself. Last week, as the trials began, the sleek blue 12-meter Sovereign beat her pale-green rival Kurrewa V to the finish three times. At Sovereign's helm was a British yachtsman as articulate as he is versatile. The son of famed Polar Explorer Robert Scott, Peter Scott (below) is a noted explorer in his own right. He is also an author, a painter, a former champion dinghy sailor, a former champion glider pilot, the president of the International Yacht Racing Union, a naval hero who won a D.S.C. while in command of an English motor patrol boat in World War II and an ornithologist who has amassed the greatest collection of living wild geese ever assembled.

Right now Scott has a full-time job trying to steer Sovereign to victory over Skipper Stug Perry and Kurrewa V in the trials off Newport for the honor of being the 1964 challenger. On these pages, he tells what this taut competition has meant to the British effort and what it may mean to the contest for the cup itself.

WE MEAN TO TAKE IT BACK

The schooner America sailed to England 113 years ago to win an ornate silver jug for a race around the Isle of Wight. Not long afterward this trophy passed into the custody of the New York Yacht Club, and in the intervening period 18 yachts have come to the United States to challenge for it, and 18 times failed. Does this mean that the goal is unattainable? Certainly not. But it suggests that the task is rather difficult.

A challenge for the America's Cup is an act of faith—a belief that what for so long has seemed unattainable can in fact be attained if the effort is great enough, if the yacht is well enough designed and built, if the sails are well enough made, if the crew is well enough trained. It is a challenge in more senses than one, like the challenge to climb Everest or to discover the North and South Poles. There must be a first time, runs the argument, why not this time if we try harder than ever before?

I suppose a competitor in any sport these days must have some sort of a quick answer to the question: What are your chances? One approach is to clasp his hands over his head in the manner of some boxers and say with all the confidence at his command that he is bound to win. At the other end of the scale is the admission that if he is going to win at all he will need all the luck he can get because it is going to be very difficult indeed.

As skipper of Sovereign, I find my approach to the 19th challenge perhaps nearer to the second than to the first. But if we are realistic enough to know the difficulty of our task, we do not lack confidence or determination. There are, we think, good and solid reasons for believing we have a better chance than our 18 predecessors. The most important of these is that for the first time the challenging yacht club has two new boats to choose from. The U.S. has always had at least two and sometimes up to five actively participating candidates from which to select the right boat and the best crew to meet a solitary and largely untested challenger. This year Britain's challenging club, the Royal Thames, has two new 12-meters, Sovereign and Kurrewa V, both designed by David Boyd and built at Robertson's shipyard in Scotland.

They are almost identical except for minor differences in their keels and the layout of their decks. Sovereign began racing in the middle of last summer and has been constantly at sea since April 1 this year. Kurrewa V, on the other hand, first went sailing on May 3 of this year. In three sharply fought series of races near the Isle of Wight in May and June, honors were almost even at 10 races to Kurrewa, nine to Sovereign, while a short, informal race for television was won by Sovereign to square the official score. The two boats are evenly matched. This is proved not only by the final score but by almost every race. In their next-to-last meeting in British waters the two boats sailed for six hours in a fluky wind that twice swung through 180� like a pendulum. At the end Sovereign crept over the line a scant 11 seconds ahead—half a boat's length.

Having flexed their muscles in the Solent, both boats were then shipped to the U.S. to resume competition at the scene where the cup races will be held, in the waters for which they have so carefully been prepared.

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