On account of the necessary secrecy in a game where hull design and sail cut count for as much as helmsmanship, not much can be said with finality about a boat's potential, particularly since the nabobs in charge of her do not themselves fully understand the nature of their beast. In this regard, for his candor and earnestness in trying to say as much as possible without damaging his own cause or burdening the world with technology, Alan Bond, team captain of
, deserves some sort of reward, if not from God in heaven, at least from the journalists who constantly plague him. His many comments on the potential of
are aptly summed up by what he had to say on the eve of the first race. "In crew work and sail handling it should be a real fight. Neither boat is going to get a race as a gift. We have both done enough racing now so that the obvious mistakes have been truly and well gone over. Neither boat will be able to say she blew it because she went here when she should have gone there. The Americans may still have an advantage, but it is not the overwhelming edge it once was. It will be a much fairer test of sailing, unless one or the other has an advantage with a faster boat, and we won't know that until tomorrow. I am at least sure we have a better hull than we had in Southern Cross."
Ted Turner is equally candid, although he is sometimes east of the sun and sometimes west of the moon. If Turner ever wandered on the race course the way he often does in a discourse, he would never make it to the first mark within the 5� hour time limit. After his first victory, he declared for the benefit of his beaten rivals, "It was a relatively close race. Three years ago when we were on Mariner, we usually lost by 10 minutes. The greatest thing about the U.S. trials this summer was that on every race we were always close enough to hear the finish gun, even when we lost." After leading
by a wide margin in a race that was abandoned because the time limit expired when he was little more than a quarter mile from the finish line, Turner told the assembled newsmen, "The official Courageous statement on the abandonment is this: If you have ever heard 11 grown men cry, it was when the gun on the committee boat went off."
Two days later, after Turner had put away his third win and needed but one more, he said, "We have met
in light air and medium air; for the race tomorrow, I'd like 20 knots, so we can see how both boats do in that." Despite Turner's wishes to see the game played across the board, the winds were moderate on Sunday. The start was like the preceding three, both boats seemingly more intent on showing their worth on the course than in preliminary skirmishing. They were dead even across the line on port tack, with
apparently pointing higher than in the first three races. When she tacked over early with starboard rights, Courageous was obliged to tack under her. By the 10th minute
was getting slightly backwinded and was forced to tack away. Courageous rounded the first mark 44 seconds ahead and improved her position in subsequent legs to win by two minutes, 25 seconds.
While the boats remain untested in heavy air, in light and medium
had scant chance for a win without getting a decided edge at the start. The problem was her inability to point high, which probably was the result of slightly inferior sails and tuning.
It was a placid series on all counts. There was not a single prolonged tacking duel or any luffing games. There was no protest flag flown or any verbal shot fired. Indeed, about the only record set was for falling bodies. After throwing Turner into Newport Harbor, and throwing each other in, the crew of Courageous tossed in their rivals. They then dunked the brass of their team as well as Commodore Bob McCullough and Vice-Commodore Harry Anderson of the New York Yacht Club. Having run out of dignitaries, they tossed in their wives and sweethearts.
Since the first challenge in 1870, the U.S. has won 73 races and lost only seven. In the face of the ever-climbing odds, Bond said, "This time we averaged about two minutes difference in an average of 260 minutes per race. We came 13,000 miles to sail in new waters, and we came close. I can tell you this much, I think we have improved enough to justify coming back in 1980."