That evening the Australians lodged a protest over what they said was an overly close tack by Liberty on the second upwind leg. If the protest had been allowed, the score would have been 1-1. But after an international jury made up of representatives from Ireland, Canada, Mexico. Bermuda and Sweden had deliberated for six hours, the protest was disallowed, and Australia II was two down.
Friday was a lay day, requested by the Aussies. With two races sailed, both of them gut-busters and neither of them won by Australia II, designer Lexcen, who was the object of a great deal of unwelcome attention from the N.Y.Y.C. earlier in the summer over the issue of his innovative winged keel, vented his frustration. "We have a faster boat than Liberty, and yet we can't beat that bloody turkey," he said. "And it's all my fault. Instead of being in the bloody boat, checking the bloody gear, I've been harassed by the New York bloody Yacht Club."
What happened the next day hurt even more, but neither Lexcen nor the N.Y.Y.C. could be blamed. Overnight the wind shifted to the southeast and lightened to 10 knots, ideal conditions for Australia II, and the Aussies sailed a faultless race. They won the start by 11 seconds, and then they hammered Liberty all the way up the first leg to lead by 1:15 at the windward mark. The true Australia II, operating trouble-free and in her element, was finally revealed, and she was stunning. Even when the wind began to shift sharply, turning the first reaching leg into a downwind run, Australia II continued to build her lead—to two minutes at the reaching mark. But already the wind was beginning to die. On the fourth leg, it became clear that Australia II would have difficulty finishing the race within the five-hour, 15-minute time limit. At that point the boats were moving at 3.7 knots. Conner's navigator, Halsey Herreshoff, figured that to finish in time they would have to average 4.6 knots for the rest of the way. With that fact in mind Conner changed his tactics. He began sailing Liberty out on flyers and into holes in the wind, forcing Bertrand, who did not dare leave Liberty entirely uncovered, to duplicate these time-consuming maneuvers. And the stopwatches ticked on. What had now become a drifting match continued around the fifth mark, where Australia II led by 5:57. About halfway up the last leg, with Australia II half a mile in front, time ran out. The Australians returned to their dock and a well-deserved heroes' welcome, but the record still read Liberty 2, Australia 110.
Sunday, however, was Australia II's day. The racing began in hazy sun and a light breeze from the southwest—a breeze that held. Liberty was first across the line, eight seconds in front of Australia II, but by the first mark Australia II was ahead, as she had been in every race to that point, this time by 1:14. The surplus was enough to carry her through the two reaching legs, the only point of sail in which Australia II has shown the slightest vulnerability in light air.
At the third mark her lead was down to 42 seconds, but her predictable upwind performance took it back up to 1:15, and from there on out the race was a rout—2:47 at the last turning mark and 3:14 at the finish, the biggest winning margin scored by a challenger against an American defender since 1871. "We tried almost everything we could think of today," said Conner. "I guess we'll just wait for a breeze. Preferably 40 knots."
Bertrand and his burly crew have demonstrated in the races they lost, as well as in the one they won, that they have the boat and the heart for the job. With a bit of luck, and a glitch-free second week of racing, Australia could become the new home of the Auld Mug.