Byline: Tony Chamberlain, Globe Staff
Memo/Corrections: Yachting / TONY CHAMBERLAIN
SO BOSTON GLOBE (BOGL)
LP Second in a two-part series: The Challengers. Assuming New Zealand is unsuccessful in overturning a September appeals court ruling that gave the America's Cup to San Diego, the next Cup regatta may be under way as early as February 1992.
TX While that seems enough time for anything to happen, in the sport of America's Cup racing, developments do not occur overnight. With a couple of notable exceptions -- the Kiwi 130-footer challenge and the catamaran defense -- events are evolutionary. So even if the Cup is held in 1993, the activity around the world now seems to support American Peter Isler's contention that "there's more international interest in the America's Cup than there was in Fremantle -- new countries, including the Soviet Union, West Germany, Japan with two efforts . . . just so much activity already that the next Cup is going to be very, very exciting." If Isler, the San Diegan who was Dennis Conner's navigator in the last two Cups, is the leading American contender at this point, the foreign efforts are coming from nearly every point on the globe. A strong European contingent, dubbed "Club Med" because its leadership comes from Italian Raul Gardini, has, in fact, threatened to begin its own regatta if the current Cup activity remains stuck in the courts. Here is the foreign lineup following a meeting of the challengers last week in London:- Italy (two boats) will launch its first boat next month by a group of industrialists calling themselves the Longo Bardo * Syndicate with Gardini at its head. Though the Aga Khan has lost interest in pursuing the Cup, this group has extremely deep pockets, and is being aided by American expertise from Paul Cayard, Robert Hopkins, John Bertrand and possibly John Marshall. Marshall was the design coordinator for Stars & Stripes, and Hopkins was Conner's crew boss. Cayard was Tom Blackaller's No. 2 man in Fremantle, while John Bertrand (not to be confused with the 1983 Aussie winner) was the right hand of John Kolius' America II entry from the New York Yacht Club. - France, after a merger of two syndicates, will come with a two-boat effort led by 1987 French Kiss skipper Marc Pajot. Though just a one-boat effort in 1987, French Kiss made the final four (of 12 starters) in the challenger semifinals. The building is under way here, and they could be extremely strong. - Denmark is strong on motivation to make a debut, as two-time Olympic gold medalist Vlademar Bandolowski has been planning an entry into Cup racing for many years. Denmark says it will be building within two months, but the financial backing is still a large imponderable. - Spain announced it would be building boats within a few weeks, and sailing on the Med by spring. - The effort of West Germany's Uwe Leibor, announced as early as 1987 in Fremantle, is up and running, though no word of an operation schedule or financial situation is available. - Great Britain had two efforts under way, but Peter deSavary's Blue Arrow group has suffered some business knocks; thus, some sort of merger seems imminent, depending on who calls the shots at Blue Arrow. - The Soviet Union, which says it is interested in sailing only if the racing is in San Diego -- giving rise to all kinds of Cold War mumbling about the largest Naval installation in the US being located there -- is said to be building four boats in Estonia. - Yugoslavia made the biggest splash last week in London by announcing its intention to start on a two-boat challenge very soon. - Japan still plans two campaigns, the Bengal Bay Yacht Club and Nippon Ocean Racing Club, both with very deep financing and more racing experience than many people imagine. In this game of international power prestige, the Japanese are taking their challenges extremely seriously, and building is under way. - Australia originally had two campaigns going, with Alan Bond of Royal Perth Yacht Club, the challenger of record. But with Bond's financial empire in receivership at this point, the winner of the 1983 Cup over Conner's Liberty in Newport will sit out 1992. This leaves RPYC's situation unclear. Meanwhile, Sydney sider Sid Fisher, who entered Steak 'N Kidney as a dark horse defender candidate in 1987, has built two 30-foot half-models of America's Cup Class racers. Though half-size models have never proved to be very telling in big-boat design, at least this is a sign that Fisher was seriously bitten with the bug in '87. - New Zealand, despite the current legal imbroglio, is well under way with a Bruce Farr/Rod Davis design, while 1986 wunderkind Chris Dickson is putting together a crew. Based on past performance, this has to be one of the most formidable efforts on paper. Of course, there is just no telling at this point which groups have the staying power to raise up to the $30 million estimated as the cost of waging the next Cup campaign. But despite the focus on what seems a totally messy seesaw battle between New Zealand's Mercury Bay Boating Club and the San Diego Yacht Club, the next Cup participants are well along the way toward the event. "It's really not like everything's standing still somewhere," says Isler. "There's plenty of activity: the new class of boat is a lot faster and more exciting; the courses have been redesigned with really short legs for lots of crew maneuvers and opportunities to screw up at the turning marks. "This next one's going to be great. Better than Fremantle. All we need now is to get out of court and back on the water. The Cup is ready for that."
chambe;11/06 LDRISC;11/08,22:03 YACHTS07
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