Article

 October 20, 2016   Karen Higginson

cat1From the March 1988 issue of 48° North by Larry Edwards

And it’s aaaaa…. catamaran!

A catamaran? In the America’s Cup?

Well, probably. Of course it could be a trimaran.

A trimaran!! How in God’s name could a #*&$* multihull be allowed in to sail for the Auld Mug? George Schyler must be turning over in his grave!!!!

Quite the contrary, Schyler is probably sitting at the bar of the Pearly Gate Yacht Club tipping a hot toddy and having a good chuckle. He did author the America’s Cup Deed of Gift, after all. And what does our cantankerous Kiwi, Michael Fay, have to say about this catamaran idea?

Said he “got whacked in the teeth.” And the race, I’ve heard, will definitely not be in San Diego?

Try Long Beach, San Pedro Bay, the site of the 1984 Olympic sailing courses. The San Diegans say the winds are just too light – averaging about 8 to 10 knots – in September, but the winds off Long Beach – averaging 12 to 16 knots – will be just right for a catamaran.

I’ll bet that scuttled his timbre?

It did quiet him for a moment, but he was quick to say his “legal costs are even cheaper” than San Diego’s.

So it’s back to court to force the venue to San Diego, the area his boat, New Zealand, was designed for?

Coh-rect. But the judge, in essence, has already ruled that San Diego can race in Glacier Bay in an iceboat, if it so chooses. Besides, if Fay does go back to court, it would probably delay the race until after November 1, according to the Deed of Gift.

Ah, the Deed of Gift again.

And if that happens, the San Diego Yacht Club will want to race in San Diego anyway, since the spring wind blows much fresher and the catamaran should still perform well.

Aiiii-yi-yi!!! So what’s keeping Fay out of court?

He will loose his time advantage. He’s got the SDYC backed into a corner by forcing them to have its boat ready to race by September.

Was this guy wearing a mask when he walked into the yacht club and threw down his challenge?

There are those who would say so, yes. And according to a New Zealand journalist, even some of his own countrymen see him as being “a bit of a bandit.”

Are these guys willing to compromise on anything?

The SDYC offered to hold the races in San Diego and open it to all comers if Fay would agree to postpone the event until 1990 and sail in 70’ waterline boats, for which a specific design rule would be formulated. That would give no one an unfair time advantage and ensure the boat were of the same class.

Let me guess, he refused to give up his head start.

Would you if your multi-million dollar boat was due to be launched March 27? And your competitor didn’t even start building until the end of January?

Speaking of which, what do these 12-meter boys know about multihulls?

They know they’re faster than monohulls.

But as far as building and sailing gear…

According to John Marshall, head of Sail America’s Stars and Stripes defense team, they’ve brought in some hired guns to handle that. Randy Smyth, for starters. He’s to catamaran sailing what the San Diego Sockers are to indoor soccer. And Gino Morrelli, for another. He designed and built Smyth’s world championship Formula 40. There area a couple C Class catamaran designers, too, not to mention the hold-overs from 1987, Bruce Nelson and Britt Chance Jr. There are 18 members in all.

That’s not a defense team, that’s a posse.

Then there’s big John Ronez, the guy who designed the airfoil section of the wings on Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the globe without stopping or refueling.

Are they going to sail this thing or fly it?

There was mention of hydrofoil wings.

But what’s this I’ve heard about New Zealand being an illegal boat? The Deed of Gift again?

Rule 62 of the USYRU. His boat, its seems, is somewhat of a blown-up Aussie 18, ballasted by the 40-50 man crew on hiking racks extended 45 feet on each side. Rule 62 prohibits this.

How many crewman will Stars and Stripes have?

Marshall said 11, maybe 12. Rumors from Tinsel Town are that the movie, The Magnificent Eleven, is already in pre-production.

Just how big will this catamaran be?

Marshall refused to elaborate, but he did say they had Dennis Conner on a diet.

Say, they taking this thing seriously.

They’ve got to. They’re still planning on hosting that beach party for 12-metres in 1991.

Assuming they win, of course.

That goes without saying.

So what do the citizens of San Diego make of this? I mean are they steamed that the SDYC has turned its back on them?

Mayor Maureen O’Conner is miffed. She doesn’t want it anywhere else but San Diego.

She wanted to do a little more grandstanding, I take it?

Something like that. And the civic leaders, the ones who had been hoping to line their pockets and feather their nests while the 22 America’s Cup challengers were in town, are, predictably disappointed.

And the person on the street?

I don’t know if he speaks for more than a few, but former-mayor-turned-radio-talk-show-host, Roger Hedgcock, referred to Malin Burnham, president of Sail America, and his cronies, as the pompous, stuffed-shirt crowd and called the entire group involve in this farce, including Fay, a bunch of cry-baby millionaires.

So there are those who don’t give a fig one way or the other?

You could say that.

Okay, let’s see if I have this straight. Fay and his Mercury Bay Boating Club won the right to challenge the San Diego Yacht Club with this 100-foot-plus boat. The SDYC, in turn answered his challenge by building a catamaran and setting the venue as San Pedro Bay, near Long Beach, instead of San Diego. Now Fay is threatening to return to court, but virtually has nothing to gain. And his boat may be illegal anyway?

You got it!

Is there anything these guys can agree on? Or will they continue to fall back on the Deed of Gift for all their answers?

The SDYC has proposed that the regatta begin September 4, rather than September 15, to avoid running up against the Olympics – they wanna be on TV – and that it be a best of seven series raced on a triangle course, similar to that used in recent America’s Cup regattas.

Fay has not responded?

Not yet.

And if he doesn’t agree, the first race will be 20 miles to leeward and back?

Right through the shipping lanes.

ESPN ought to love that!

So should George Schyler.

march-88