Turner is just as vocal on land. He theorizes that the reason the New York Yacht Club was long content without his company was that he once called club members stuffy old codgers. He says it was an unavoidable indiscretion, explaining, "I was crocked at the time." Adopting a more diplomatic policy in Newport, Turner proclaimed, "I say only nice things about people now." Accordingly, he has staunchly refused to criticize Brit Chance in public.
"We're not looking for people to blame," Turner says. "We're trying to solve problems."
There were enough of those. Complaining that Mariner's aluminum wheel was slippery when wet, Turner ordered a custom-made rawhide cover, an $80 extravagance that annoyed George Hinman—especially since Hinman, the Mariner syndicate manager and 1974 skipper of Valiant, had no such cover on his wheel.
Then there was Brit Chance's reluctance to accept defeat. As customary in the creation of most U.S. Twelves, Chance had tested five-foot models—at some $1,200 a day—in the tanks at Stevens Institute in Hoboken, N.J. He was satisfied with the results. "Testing is controlled," he insisted. "In general, I'd take test results over race results." When syndicate members grumbled that the boat was a flop, Chance sulked. "God, Brit, we're grown men," Hinman pleaded at one point. "Can't we even say what we think?"
Of the several embarrassments that finally sent Chance back to the drawing board, the worst came one crisp, metallic-skyed afternoon during the June trials in a race against Courageous. The margin was so great—nearly 10 minutes over a 21.7-mile course—that even the Goodyear blimp hovering overhead might have had trouble keeping both yachts in view at once. Afterward a glum Brit Chance was observing silence, like the followers of Swami Satchidanandaji.
By contrast, Intrepid's supporters were as vocal as Chance was silent. The West Coast interests that had resurrected her have a "people's" campaign going. Into this most dignified of sporting classics, an event that flourishes without TV revenues or paid admission—and nary a single STP sticker on any hull—they have injected a touch of pizzazz, including the unheard-of step of advertising for donations in boating magazines.
Intrepid went into the sea off San Diego in February, giving her a two-month head start in crew preparation over her aluminum rivals. This was an apparent factor in one of her two preliminary-trial wins over Courageous, whose crew required an agonizing four minutes to get the spinnaker down after rounding a mark. The crew gap will likely narrow in time, but Skipper Gerry Driscoll's old campaigner had also proved quickest to windward of the four U.S. Twelves.
"New designs are assumed to be faster in auto racing or boats, but it doesn't always work out that way, does it?" Driscoll said wickedly. Driscoll, a baldish San Diego boatbuilder, has twice triumphed in Congressional Cup match racing and once was world champion in Star boats. He added, "We're fast—just as fast as Courageous."
Next to those pretty young aluminum beauties, Intrepid was a weight-conscious dowager. Aluminum has the advantage of being lighter than wood, and Intrepid was being dry-sailed—hoisted out each evening so as not to absorb more water and become still heavier. It also helped that her mast was made of titanium, a weight-saving metal banned on new Twelves. Meanwhile, with the "people's" campaign still $178,000 shy of its $750,000 goal, Eustace (Sunny) Vynne Jr. was forever running to the phone to drum up contributions. Vynne is syndicate manager on behalf of the Seattle Sailing Foundation, the boat's owner, and after one strong Intrepid showing he taped a gust-by-gust account that was played at a fund-raising dinner the same night at the Tacoma Yacht Club. The next day, Vynne happily reported, "They raised $1,200."
And so, for now anyway, it was Intrepid against Courageous, the one seeking to defend the America's Cup an unprecedented third time, the other out to prove that Reynolds is good for something other than flip-top cans. In the water, too, was Valiant, with Mariner soon to follow—and George Hinman's syndicate playing catch-up.