"I wonder if that's spelled s-h-o-o-t or c-h-u-t-e?" one of them muttered. Parker stuck with the spinnaker he had.
Spinnakers turned out not to matter much, however. Up to his starting tricks, Conner had Parker floundering far out of position when the starting gun sounded. Conner's boat crossed the line more than a minute ahead and the race, for all practical purposes, was over.
It was later in the afternoon that Conner suffered his loss to Buchan, who was tactician aboard the rival Intrepid when Hood, with Conner at his side, sailed Courageous to victory in the conclusive race of the America's Cup trials. Losing to Buchan now, Conner suffered a perhaps understandable letdown, but he could ill afford a similar lapse against New Yorker Graham Hall. Having likewise lost just one match, Hall, a notable small-boat racer, was still very much in contention.
For a while it appeared that Hall might have to sail the final day without tactician Andy Rose, a Congressional veteran and one of the few sailors who can hope to outwit Conner in match racing starts. When it came time to leave the dock, Rose was missing. After repeatedly checking his watch and casting anxious glances toward the parking lot, Hall finally headed out into the harbor. Five minutes later Rose arrived on the dock.
"I had trouble getting my car started," he said. "Then I was going 80 on the highways, but I hit every red light." He clambered into a powerboat and was transferred onto the Cal 40 just in time.
The start was lost to Conner by 13 seconds, which was somewhat better, start-wise, than Rose had done with his car. But as Hall's craft approached a leeward mark, a fitting on the spinnaker pole worked loose, playing havoc with efforts to jibe. Then the spinnaker ripped and had to be replaced in midrace. Somehow Hall succeeded in pushing Conner all the way, losing by a scant 23 seconds. It was after this win, the one that wrapped it up, that a jubilant Conner and his crew broke out the beer for their celebration.
Then came the final race, pitting Conner against USC sailing star Benny Mitchell. Conner won it although outsailed at the start, which had not happened to him all week, not even in the defeat by Buchan. "If you win the start in match racing," Conner says, "you'll win the race 75% of the time." The race against Mitchell was meaningless, but the hottest skipper afloat dislikes losing starts under any circumstances. Next time Dennis Conner may have to take off his blue blazer and get tough.