sun without wind. For two hours the fleet waited. Meanwhile the astonishing
series of firsts continued. En route to the cup buoy, Tactician Steve Van Dyke
of Intrepid was stung by a bee, and the reaction was so severe he was taken to
a hospital after a helicopter pickup. He had hardly disappeared when a
barnacle-encrusted sphere was identified as a floating mine. In time a Navy
demolition team discovered it was only a fishing float.
bizarre events, it might be expected that the race would be anticlimactic.
Instead, after the contenders had circled lazily in a six-knot southerly, the
fireworks began. Intrepid reached away from the line, and as she came back
Gretel was waiting near the committee boat. Intrepid was moving faster, but in
trying to break through to windward the two yachts came together. In the melee
Gretel lost part of her bow, so once again red protest flags fluttered.
Intrepid led by
42 seconds at the weather mark, and gained an even minute on the two reaching
legs. Gretel got back 30 seconds the second time to weather. So far the script
was in accordance with previous performance—both boats closely matched upwind,
Intrepid definitely superior downwind. But on the spinnaker run Gretel threw
away the book. In a slightly fresher breeze she took off, reversing her form of
Friday; aggressively forcing a series of jibes, interfering with Intrepid's
wind whenever possible and going faster at all times, the Aussies rounded the
fifth mark 50 seconds in the lead. On the last windward leg Gretel continued to
open the gap and crossed the finish 1:07 ahead.
It was a popular
victory, and no fluke. But the least credible event of the whole bizarre week
still lay in wait. The next day Gretel was adjudged in the wrong at the start
and the race was given to Intrepid, making the score 2-0 instead of 1-1. An
international rule had been violated, but unfortunately it was the race
committee of the New York Yacht Club that had to apply the penalty. Another
explosion ensued. The first rational words were those of Sir Frank Packer:
"We are disappointed, but now we'll win the next four." And Gretel just