There is a saying Down Under that Australian sailors never quit until the wind is strong enough to blow dogs off their leashes, but it was agreed that, in consideration of the brittleness of six-meters, no race would be sailed on blustery San Francisco Bay in winds exceeding 25 knots. In that first series (in July 1969) Taylor's brand-new boat, Toogooloowoo IV (a pseudo-aboriginal name that means nothing), was beaten four races to three by Goose, a 13-year-old U.S. hull skippered by a University of Washington undergraduate, Brian Wertheimer. Sailors of the St. Francis Y.C. were so taken by the series that they offered to buy Toogooloowoo IV provided Taylor would build another challenger and race again. Taylor agreed. When the club's lawyer, leery about the possibility of joint property entanglements, asked Taylor his full name and his wife's maiden name and whether at the time of the construction of the boat he had been married to the same woman, Taylor replied, "Look, hold on a minute. I've only sold one boat in my life and, whereas the way we do things in Australia may seem funny, I sold it at the bar of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on a handshake. If you want to buy Toogy IV and want me to build another to race again, all you have to do is shake my hand." In 1970 Toogooloowoo IV, renamed St. Francis IV, returned to Australia and, with Blackaller at the helm, she won four straight races against Taylor's new Toogooloowoo V.
In the third series, held on San Francisco Bay in 1973, Blackaller again won four straight races, sailing a new Gary Mull design, St. Francis V, against Taylor's Pacemaker. In 1976, in St. Francis VI, he defended once more without a loss against Taylor's fourth boat, Prince Alfred, a bulbous-bowed craft of dubious worth. By then the Swedes had heard about the six-meter revival, so in 1976, in his home waters, Taylor first had to defeat a Swedish six, May Be X, to earn the right to be beaten by Blackaller.
In spite of his exceptional American-Australian Cup record, Blackaller really does not care much for six-meter boats. "It is a whole lot of effort for very little sailing," he says. "We have only sailed this present boat in 20 races. The amount of planning and effort required for such little sailing doesn't appeal to me."
Blackaller had planned to quit the six-meter game after his third defense, but this September he again returned to the series on San Francisco Bay, tempted by the quality of the competition. There were three other American boats on hand, vying with Blackaller's St. Francis VII for the honor of defending. Blackaller beat Wertheimer, who had skippered the 1969 winner, and, without suffering a defeat, also beat two America's Cup helmsmen, Malin Burnham and Ted Turner. Meanwhile, on a separate course the four Swedish boats were scrapping to determine which would meet Taylor's Pacemaker for the right to be beaten by Blackaller. In this semifinal round, Pacemaker lost to the Swedish May Be XII.
In the defense against May Be XII Blackaller once again won four straight and led at every mark. On almost every downwind leg the Blackaller crew won five seconds or more simply on the adroit raising and lowering of their spinnaker. On almost every tack they were a second better getting the jib across and filled. If, as it truly seems, a constant thrashing by Yankee crews is what keeps rivals coming back for more, then Blackaller is about the best drawing card any match-racing class could have.
Although his boat was shut out of the finals, John Taylor, the Aussie who started it all, was not dismayed. All he had intended to do a dozen years ago was to keep the six-meter alive back home, and somehow he had done much more. "I'll have another bash at it in 1982," he said. "But to see the new boats competing here, and to know there are 20 or 30 new ones now in Europe and maybe 15 in America, that's dream enough for me. In losing I have really won."