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Cup Talk of the National Business Review

by Ivor Wilkins

They shall not grow mould...
He may be adept at the helm of a yacht, but he sure manages to mangle the English language now and then. John Bertrand, skipper of Australia II, which became the first yacht in 132 years to beat the US defenders of the America's Cup, was asked his view of Team New Zealand. He was generally impressed. Although the Kiwi crew is young, he said, they are certainly not green behind the ears."

Loyalty for sail?
I am the most loyal player money can buy" - Could Don Sutton, pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Houston Astros, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Oakland Athletics and the California Angels, be setting an example for America's Cup teams?

No hands up
When it comes time for the top teams to choose their opponents in a particular round of the Louis Vuitton Cup, it's a bit like those school dances we'd all prefer to forget. The difference is that in the America's Cup you hope desperately that you WILL be a wallflower. Nobody wants to be picked," says Ken Read, skipper of Stars & Stripes. Why? Because it implies you are the easy-beats. Of course, Read was selected by OneWorld. His comment: We have taken it as a chance to get a little mad."

Age-old conflict
NBR reported last week that OneWorld helmsman James Spithill had drawled a short and sweet explanation for skipper Peter Gilmour's absence on the last day of racing in the quarter-final: He's too old, mate." The battle of the generations continues, with the Australian being asked if he'd be taking the helm of the boat any time soon. Apparently not because, as he explains, James won't let me have a go, the young bugger." Eloquent lot, these Australians.

Plain sailing
Most yacht designers have eyes only for their own creations, but OneWorld designer Bruce Nelson likes the Team New Zealand yachts - not because of anything special in their design or construction, however. They go straight through to the finals," he explains, without all this crashing and bashing [that the challengers have to do]. I wish we had one of those."

Lowering the boom
The America's Cup is steeped in tradition, some of it quite obscure. Mr America's Cup, Dennis Conner, has traditions of his own that are well worth preserving. For example, he has a miniature cannon that fires real rounds. He loves to set it off every time Stars & Stripes wins a race. The little ritual was interrupted briefly after the police paid the Team Dennis Conner base a visit to ask about its firearms licence. Once that little item of bureaucracy was satisfied, lusty volleys of cannon fire boomed out once again.

Conversation stopper
Some sports become riddled with psycho-babble. Given half a chance, yachting can fall victim to techno-babble, as in this fine example from renowned designer Bruce Farr: I guess the advantage of forward appendages is to try and spread the lifting surfaces away from the centre of the boat and have some positive effect on the wave drag of the boat itself and potentially increase the efficiency of the lifting surfaces by getting more effective span due to the shallower wave at that point. In some conditions there are handling advantages and disadvantages." Be sure to mention that at your next dinner party.

Forget tacking and don't spare the horses

Is there anything more tedious than a yacht-racing event with no wind? After the third day in succession of the quarter-final repechage was lost to too little wind, race officer Peter Reggio devised a little excitement by organising a powerboat race for the syndicate chase boats, weather boats and umpire boats - anything with an engine. Mike Quilter, one of Team New Zealand's top weather men, won the event handily. It's amazing how well you can pick the windshifts when you have twin Yamaha 200hp outboards going at full revs.