It was an easy victory for Courageous over the Australian challenger Southern Cross in the opening race of this year's America's Cup.
It was an easy victory for Courageous over the Australian challenger Southern Cross in the opening race of this year's America's Cup. The American defender never looked back from the start, and by the end of the 24.3-mile (34 kms) course Courageous was a convincing 4 minutes 54 seconds ahead.
Conditions were mild for the Tuesday afternoon (10 September) race on the Rhode Island Sound -- there was nothing more than a 10-knot breeze, and even that fell at times. However, visibility was never much better than three-quarters-of-a-mile (1.2 kms).
The Australian crew were even outplaced in pre-race manoeuvres by the American yacht and helmsman Dennis Conner who put Courageous in a commanding position for the 2.10 p.m. start.
After the start, Conner gave the helm to veteran yachtsman Ted Hood -- Courageous's skipper -- and Hood put his boat a commanding 34 seconds ahead by the first mark. From then on, the lead steadily increased all the way to the finish.
The conditions favoured Courageous but Southern Cross's owner, flamboyant Australian land-developer Alan Bond, was unwilling to blame the weather conditions, or rather lack of them. The 37-year-old Western Australian, who has invested millions of dollars in the Southern Cross venture, and who has accused Dennis Conner of "rodeo tactics" in the past, said on Tuesday nighty he would protest if, in future races, Conner continued to "yell and give false calls at the start".
The start of the race, in fact, had been delayed for two hours because of morning fog over the course. Thousands of spectators were in Newport to see the start of the 23rd series of the America's Cup, which has been in existence for the past 123 years.